Friday, August 21, 2009

Be Merry

“Sir, I have never complained of the world; nor do I think I have reason to complain. It is rather to be wonder at that I have so much.”

- Samuel Johnson, in Boswell’s Life of Johnson

When you first think about absurd nature of our existence, it seems somewhat abstract. And for a lot of people the idea of a meaningless existence seems sad and bleak.

We find the insight practical in many respects, as we’ve talked about on this blog. And we also find it uplifting. At bottom, we think the absurd philosophy contains within it a simple message that many of societal pressures that constrain our lives shouldn’t. In fact, if nothing matters in the end at all, you are pretty much free to create your life as you wish without the burden of living up to anyone else’s plans or expectations for you.

This is what we think lies beneath Samuel Johnson’s quote above. He recognizes that while it is easy to complain about our lot, the truth of the matter is that we have a lot more than we think. Existence itself is a treasure chest of many wonders, if we would only open it up and take a look. Absurdism is a key to getting in that chest.

Absurdity does not mean one takes life complacently. The absurd man does not sit there and absorb indifferently the experiences that roll his way. The absurd man, as we take him, grabs life with both hands and rides it as far as he is able. Absurdity is his key to freedom, to experiment, to seek out experiences for their own sake.

Since we were recently re-reading pieces of Hodgkinson’s book, we share with you another quote of his that we like:

“Lap up experience rather than complain about it. Celebrate the bad, celebrate the good, as they may even be the same thing.”

It is, we know, hard to live like this all of the time. However, we think the benefits of keeping a bigger perspective on life make it worth trying.

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