We’ve often wondered whether we could be absurd if we were in more – let us say – uncomfortable circumstances.
In other words, is the absurd a luxury? And could we be absurd if we lived more closely to a kind of subsistence living?
We like to think so. And we’ve found evidence of people who become absurd only after some trying experience, as we’ve written about before on this blog. We have yet another shred to add to our anecdotal pile.
Recently, we were reading Travel & Leisure magazine and came across a story of a woman who went hunting with the Hadzi, a tribe of hunter-gatherers on the shores of Lake Eyasi in Tanzania.
These hunters depended on what they caught that day. If they don’t have a successful hunt, they don’t eat as well as they might.
Ironically, given those apparently high stakes, the Hadzi are remarkably calm and cheerful even when they have an unsuccessful hunt. They seem to be having a good time, enjoying each other’s company and the process of the hunt, even though they catch nothing on this particular day.
Here our intrepid author speculates as to why the hunters have this calm and seemingly care-free demeanor, and hits on an absurd observation:
“I chalked it up to an enviable acceptance of their limits of control – something many of us spend years with therapists and yogis trying to develop. Even more than the natural history, anthropology, and zoology we were studying, this example of living in the present – and not getting hung up on outcomes – seemed to be the most important lesson we could take from Africa.”
We pass this along as a little reminder, if nothing else, of the benefit of living in the present. It allows one to remain cheerful – and view life with a kind of ironic detachment – even in the face of seemingly large setbacks. In the case of the Hadzi, it means not eating dinner.
Makes you put your own concerns in a new light, doesn't it?