Thursday, September 10, 2009

Keeping perspective

We were on a plane the other day and happened to have a window seat. As a result, we spent a good deal of time watching the houses, cars, trees, etc recede (as we ascended) and come back into view as we landed. We imagine many people have experienced the unusual feeling of detachment that comes from this - basically, the sense that all our worldly concerns seem ridiculous when we see how small we actually are. The cars and houses look like toys, and the people (when you can see them) like ants - the feeling that everything happening "down there" is irrelevant can be incredibly powerful.

This, of course, is what the absurd is all about, but what we want to focus on today is how to keep that feeling of detachment when you are not at 30,000 feet. In fact, we consider this to be one of the most critical aspects of the absurd. How do you keep your perspective when you are not only predisposed by genetics to non-absurdity, but also surrounded (for the most part) by people who are not absurd?

It would be nice if there were some sort of soundbite answer for this. Unfortunately, it is a great deal easier to recognize the absurd than it is to maintain this perspective on a day-to-day basis. One can, of course, meditate, read books, and generally try to maintain a sense of inward calm, but this is difficult for the majority of people (we among them) who live in the hectic world of modern society.

For us, the process of writing this blog (and responding to reader comments) has become a powerful contributor to our own sense of absurdity. This was something we did not necessarily expect - our primary motivations for creating the blog were that we thought it would be an easy way to share what we have found to be an incredibly liberating outlook on life with others, and also that we hoped to develop a community of like-minded individuals. But in effect, writing this blog helps us stay absurd.

We have other tricks, of course. As discussed on the blog, we like to view life as "pushing our rock," or playing a role in a movie, and Inigo and I have a meeting place we have dubbed "absurd HQ." But how you choose to remember the absurd is irrelevant. We, for example, tend to "worry" our wedding ring, and thus decided to "remember the absurd" every time we catch ourselves doing it - this is but one of many "triggers" we have for remembering our own irrelevance.

Not surprisingly, the more of these habits you adopt, the less you need them. When we first adopted the wedding ring "trick," it would often shift us from bring quite worried about something (whatever it was) to a far more calm and relaxed state. But now we generally find it to be more a reinforcement of our current mood.

To being this full circle, our newest "tool" for remaining absurd is to simply remember the view out the plane window and how it made us feel. Why, we ask ourselves, should we feel any differently now than we did then? Why shouldn't we always take the 30,000 foot view?

This is water. This is water. This is water.

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