Finding Happiness in Absurdity

Tim - Blackburg, Virginia
Entered on April 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance

I believe everyone should find happiness in absurdity.

My life, from the time I was a child, revolved around the spoken word of Jesus Christ. My parents were raised Catholic and imparted to me a very Christian lifestyle. For 13 years I spent two hours at St. Johns every Sunday in mass and religious education. My childhood flowed by without much worry but as I grew every decision became subject to analysis. Had I cursed too much today? Did the devil have a warm corner of hell reserved for me because sometimes my faith felt worthless? As high school wore on these questions became more frequent and upsetting. My mother assured me not to worry and it was perfectly normal to question the doctrines of Catholicism. This advice suited me for a while but eventually felt empty.

Virginia Tech was my salvation. I entered my freshman year as a Communications major and took to philosophy. The words of Descartes, Kant, Butler, and many others consumed me. They made it possible for me to tackle ethical dilemmas without the use of God all together. Within a year and a half I became an atheist and severed my affiliation with organized religion. Disdain for my local pastor and parishioners proved too difficult to keep from my parents and eventually I confessed my feelings. They were heartbroken. I became alienated from my family and felt like a guest at home.

One afternoon last semester in my ethics class our professor brought up the late philosopher Albert Camus. He believed that human beings exist within a reality that demands the creation of meaning. Camus thought it was impossible to live with the paradox “I think my life is important but also meaningless.” For him the universe is a ridiculous place full of ambiguity and absurdity. In accepting this absurdity and the meaning we as individuals must create we can find meaning (however we define it) in our existential world. After class I felt expatriated. I was simply one individual looking to cultivate my own personal meaning in a world that would be meaningless to me without it.

I called my mother that evening and told her I didn’t resent her views. We both got choked up and apologized for refusing to acknowledge each other’s opinions. Each of us wanted so desperately to convince the other they were right instead of coming to grips with the meaning both of us found value in. Our relationship grew closer and while we still talk now and again about God and morality, the discussion operates on a healthy and respectful level.

I believe in accepting the meaning that others have chosen to accept in their lives. It may not always seem right and you may disagree on every point. Life is absurd and we all cope differently. What’s not absurd is that we die having believed something worth living for.