Monthly Archives: December 2022

A Reflection Upon Some Reading I’ve Done

The actions of my past are part of me. Like sediment, they build over time. They may impact me in the present moment and influence my decisions for the future, but they are not a prison. They do not completely predestine me, though I cannot avoid consequences. I will always reap what I have sown, but what I choose to sow next is not forced upon me. It is always my choice.

My hopes for the future are part of me. Hopes, however, are easily twisted into fears should I become caught up in a worry that the universe might produce an unjust, unbearable outcome. But those fears, I come to learn, are unjustified. There is no promise of a terror-free existence. There is no guarantee of justice in this world. The absurdity of existence, whether I read of it in Camus or Ecclesiasties, is all there will be. Fearing what will be because it will not be what it is not is – that is irrational. Life is unbearable when I expect it to be other than what it is. When I come to accept that things happen to people regardless of the goodness or badness of things or people, and that I am a person to whom things happen, I find that my fear of the future subsides.

Does my hope remain? It cannot remain, not by itself. It is a psychotic vision to hope alone. Hope must rest upon a realization that my present state permits me a capability to choose. My hopes must help guide my choices, in context of my life thus far. I have no reason to fear or dread when I accept that I always have capacity to choose.

Camus said of Sisyphus that we must suppose him to be happy. That is to say, any of us can be supposed to be happy when we know our own absurd situation and persist in making choices and efforts. I may suppose to hope for a better tomorrow, but am I realistic if I do not acknowledge that tomorrow, I am one day closer to my eventual death? Tomorrow may actually be the day I die, but why should I fear that? My experience is that, on the whole, most days – if not all of them thus far – I have not died. So I am free to live my life with an assumption that the choices I make today are of value and that they will give me something to reap tomorrow from what I sow today.

And what of disasters that could befall me? They will happen. I don’t know when or what form they manifest themselves in, but they will happen, and I will adapt. I will cope. I will persevere. Sisyphus pushes his rock up the hill and, upon reaching the summit, the rock rolls back to the base of the hill. So what? Sisyphus simply walks down the hill to labor again. His work is futile only if we fear for a future that does not exist for him. His work may have no meaning, but it is only a punishment to him if he chooses to dwell upon his fate with dread. One could suppose a Sisyphus who, over time, accepts that his life is what it is. He accepts that there is nothing better and nothing worse ahead of him: existence for him is what it is. Why not accept the absurd, the wheel of fortune, the blur of life as a given and fear not?

Our ability to choose means the past is not a prison and that our future is not a trap. All things happen to all people, so why anguish over the absurd illogic of existence? Instead, let us accept that we exist, that we can do things that we choose to do, and that we, like Sisyphus, can be supposed to be happy when we find choices that develop a meaning for our lives that extends beyond the mortality of our earthly existence. Such a meaning is a matter for another discussion. But I can see a way in which Sisyphus, in his mind, is not being punished in a hell, but may have found a gateway to heaven.