Accepting the Absurdity of Life

He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.

Albert Camus

The tragedies of life — a plane crash, a baby born with a terminal condition — can make one cry out, “Why, God?”. It is safe to assume one cannot expect any answer back from the heavens. The almost brutal indifference the world can show to our dreams and our prayers leads one to think that life is absurd. The French existentialist Albert Camus (1913-1960) likens the human condition to that of Sisyphus in Greek mythology:

Sisyphus, the founding king of Corinth, was known for his trickery and evil deeds. As punishment for his sins, he was condemned to the never-ending task of rolling a boulder up to the top of a steep hill, only for it to roll back down and be repeated.

This might seem an extreme comparison, but if you ask the wife of a fallen soldier or mother of a stillborn, she may find the parallels between the absurdity of Sisyphus’ punishment and human life. Camus offers us a sort of solution to the Sisyphean task of life: instead of despairing in the struggle and stress of an incomprehensible world, one should ride confidently into the eye of the storm; one should find enjoyment in rolling the boulder up the hill.

The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Albert Camus

With the right attitude, accepting the meaninglessness and absurdity of this world is not the end, but the beginning. It allows for the acknowledgement that not only you but all your fellow kin share in this struggle.

To live for life’s sake is to live passionately and without restraint. It is admirable to willingly accept your fate, to start again at the foot of the mountain and roll your boulder back up once more.


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