old emails

I kept this folded in the back of a photo frame behind a picture of my dog for ten years, so I’d know where to find it, but hidden so no one could figure me out. It’s part of an old email exchange about a book.

“Absurd

Your life is, without a doubt, out of your control, but that’s not to say that it has a purpose, that you have a destiny. Accident. Chance. Concidence.

So why are we here? The question has no answer. Not only will you never know, but there’s nothing to know.

X: ‘What the hell are people for?’

There is nothing to understand, nothing to know. You can invent reasons, sure. But so what?

Can pursue pure, rational truth (science). Might get facts, but facts don’t tell you anything about life.

Can pursue religion. Relates to life, but religion = lies.

The rational vs the irrational. Absurd actions. X and Y have reasons for doing what they do, but they’re rationalizations more than reasons. Not based on moral beliefs. Even Z’s desired last act is meaningless—because God’s not going to care.

Heck, living is irrational. So what do you have? These options:

Science: No connection to life. No responsibility. No morality. Death.

Cynicism: Main is vile and man makes nothing worth making, nothing worth knowing.

Religion: Lies. Happy lies, perhaps, but lies nonetheless. And it leaves you unable to question why you believe what you do, which puts you in the absurd position of having to ignore A LOT.

Laughter: Recognize the absurdity. Recognize the ridiculousness of humanity. Laugh not at humans (cynicism), but with humans (you are one, after all, and just as prone to irrational insanity as the next). Laugh with humans and keep your own humanity. Remain a part of humanity, not at the distance cynicism imposes. Laugh. And love. And laugh at love. And love to laugh.

A: ‘We are healthy only to the extent that our lives are humane.’”

I reproduce it here because I’ve lost it a couple times, since co-opting the photo frame for something else, and worry it’ll be gone forever. I didn’t carry it around with me for all that time; I kept it elsewhere. I like to flatter myself with the idea that I did so out of a healthy uneasiness with the idea of taking some written worldview so deeply to heart and making it my own. I like to imagine that having read it, and put it aside, finding things out for myself, unguided, was my chief concern. But probably I just didn’t want it to be found by anyone in my travels, since it would make it to easy for people to pigeonhole me, too quickly. Oh, well. There it is. I gave it ten years but I’m still pretty much in agreement with it. And it’s more eloquent—and, blessedly, brief, which any reader here has good reason to be grateful for—than I tend to be, so I didn’t want to lose it.

ETA: Oh, I should add that while I recognized the imperative in the last option at the time, I honestly wasn’t sure I could do that. I was a very lonely kid. I have, happily, been proven wrong.

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