There are many facets to living the absurd life. Indeed, we are often struck by how broad and deep the concept of meaningless turns out to be--just when we think we have it figured out, along comes another fascinating application. How can something so simple, we sometimes wonder, also be so complex?
For example, one of the most liberating parts of the absurd is that once you realize nothing matters, there is no need to be afraid. Think about this for a minute. Consider the source of your fears--not just of physical harm, but that you will lose your job, or not have enough money to retire, or be abandoned by your friends, or that something horrible will happen to a loved one--and examine why you fear such things. Where does this fear come from? What purpose does it serve? In short, are there valid reasons for fear, and (most importantly) would you be better off without it?
This concept plays into a theme we have previously explored, which is the large number of people who are sympathetic to the absurd, but only to a point. After all, they argue, what about loved ones? What if something really bad happens? What if, what if, what if...
We sense this is a fairly common viewpoint, the idea that certain things "matter," such as family, or friends, or health. Of course, if the world is meaningless there is no reason to view anything as more (or less) meaningful than anything else, even such culturally sacrosanct ideals as these, but nevertheless a great many people reject this simple (to us, anyway) explanation.
This is certainly understandable, particularly given enormous and persistent societal pressure to do so. However, in our opinion this is a tragic error. In short, by accepting that certain things matter more than others, such individuals unwittingly create the source of their own fears. This is ironic, since they no doubt believe they are doing the opposite (i.e., increasing their happiness) by caring about such things.
Consider: If you have no fear of death, why be afraid of pain? If you know your children will die someday, then why fret about their education, their marriage prospects, their "place in the world"? If you live moment to moment, for experience rather than meaning, what does it even mean to "retire"?
The bottom line is that fear is divisive, destructive...and entirely self-created. We all have the ability to live without fear if we choose to do so. But we cannot live this way so long as we cling to our hope--the hope that things matter, that our life has purpose and meaning, that we are something more than random collections of atoms thrown together in a fantastic cosmic accident.
The wonderful thing about embracing the absurd is not only that it frees one to live as one chooses, but also that it strips away these self-created impediments to loving freely, unconditionally, and without reservation. When the fear is gone you find that all that remains is peace and harmony with the world as a whole, which is simply not possible when one "wants," and "prefers," and "chooses" one thing over another.
As with many issues, we have found Krishnamurti enormously helpful in this area, and we close with what we consider to be one of his most thought-provoking passages--on how to live peacefully (i.e., free of fear) in a violent world.
"If you are free of violence in yourself the question is, 'How am I to live in a world full of violence, acquisitiveness, greed, envy, brutality? Will I not be destroyed?' That is the inevitable question which is invariably asked. When you ask such a question it seems to me you are not actually living peacefully. If you live peacefully you will have no problem at all. You may be imprisoned because you refuse to join the army or shot because you refuse to fight, but that is not a problem; you will be shot. It is extraordinarily important to understand this."