Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Capacity to Enjoy

The Belmont Stakes took place this weekend. It is the third-leg of the elusive Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing. It's a lot of fun. We like horse racing for its uncertainties and random elements. Pursuits of chance, like poker and the stock market, showcase much of the absurd.

Before the great race at the Big Sandy on Saturday, we were re-reading pieces of Andrew Beyer's classic, Picking Winners, while sitting under the shade of a great maple tree, under a bright blue sky, while puffing away at a tasty hand-rolled Sancho Panza. We came across this passage, which highlights another aspect of the absurd:

"A friend of mine from Boston was obsessed with playing the horses. He would awaken at dawn so he could study the horses all morning, spend the afternoon at the track, and devote his evening to a stack of yellowing Racing Forms... He didn't have much money but his life was a joy. Every day was a new challenge, an adventure.... "I am thankful," he said, "that God gave me the capacity to enjoy...

"The capacity to enjoy: so few people have it. Most citizens live lives of such routine and drudgery and are so concerned about security that they cannot imagine how delicious uncertainty is. A gambler may have as many periods of pain and frustration as he does exhilaration, but at least he knows he's alive."

We think this is one great aspect of the absurd. The true absurd man enjoys life all the more because he knows that nothing matters in the end. The ride is the the thing. The absurd man does not seek certainty in a world where there is none - except the certainty of our own demise. He relishes the uncertainty and cultivates the ability to see life anew and fresh everyday.

The absurd man has the capacity to enjoy.

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