Monday, December 28, 2015
Life is absurd and purposeful, all at the same time
No. I'm not dying. I'm just having an existential moment. As I prepare for Christmas, with a weather forecast telling me that North Carolina is going to be in the seventies for the next week.
It's taken me some 59 years (not sure if I beat Albert Camus or Leo Tolstoy). But I now realize that the lesson of life. It's true meaning. Is that life is absurd.
Yet, that realization leaves no explanation for the existence of my consciousness. Yours too. Unless, the further step of understanding is that we can only give that consciousness, our lives, true meaning if we use the realization of absurdity as the platform to give ourselves purpose.
In which regard, Norman Mailer is right as well.
Look. Of course life is absurd. How can it be other than absurd to imagine that our incredibly fragile bodies can possibly represent any kind of sustainable or effective vessel for the equally incredible consciousness that possesses it?
It is impossible that some grand series of universal accidents created this ridiculous collection of vulnerable cells, to house an intelligence that has me in awe each and every day I wake up.
This isn't going to be a discussion about creationism, or evolution, or intelligent whatever. It is a post about absurdity. And the first absurdity is ever to make plans on the basis other than that our vibrant consciousness is always hostage to a body that is likely to collapse at any moment.
So. Don't make plans? No. Make 'em up the wazoo. Otherwise, what's the point in being alive? But don't take them too seriously. And don't make them ridiculously extensive. Because, fragility of the body aside, and the next absurdity, why do we think that the eighty to ninety odd years we spend on this planet is really going to make any difference?
We had a Kennedy. Got shot. We had a Clinton. Got undone by a Bush. Who got undone by an Obama. Who most likely will get undone by a Trump. Or a Cruz. Which is worse?
Hitler was terrible. Stalin likely worse. Pol Pot the pits. Yet, they are gone. And yet, we have a Putin and fascism on the rise in the western world.
We had a Mother Teresa. And yet, we still have poverty in India. Alongside the Porsches and Lamborghini's. We still have some 50 million below the poverty line in the US. Yet, we have more billionaires than ever.
We elect Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour Party. In the absurd belief he will become Prime Minister. We have absurd expectations of Bernie Sanders. In the almost certain and realistic belief he will never be President.
Too many of us have too many regrets. When we know we could not have done differently. Instead of enjoying the moments that were good, and shrugging at the rest.
And that is the only reaction to the absurdity of life. To shrug.
I have no clue, no-one truly does, about purpose. Why create, evolve, cook, lego-build a consciousness that can produce a Mona Lisa, an Empire State Building, a community garden, a homeless shelter from scratch, if that whatever allows it only to live for eighty years, to leave little lasting legacy, no memory of a before, and no idea of the after?
Maybe the answer is in the question. Maybe the answer is so that we, a few of us, over time, maybe more of us, can realize that life, material consciousness, is not the be all and end all, that there is more, that this life is truly absurd, we are supposed to 'get' that, so that we are able constantly to laugh at it, to chuckle, while doing what we can, before the next, as consequence of a continuous 'before'.
And that what we can do is to eschew the arrogance that says we can change the eternal, the universal, and truly to focus on what is around us. To realize the absurdity of thinking we can control anything. Except what we think and do. Without thinking we can affect the consequences. While, at the same time, always being conscious that we are responsible for the consequences of what we do and say. Dreaming, believing, planning, and believing once more. All the while understanding that we have no control over what will actually happen. While believing (again) that it will happen as we wish.
Truly, truly, truly understanding that the biggest obstacle to joyfully accepting the absurdity of life is fear. The fear that we will not be taken seriously. Who cares? The fear that we will not have enough. Who cares? The fear that what we have will be taken away. Says who?
I never began to have any effect with my advocacy (not to mention my music or my writing), whether Weaver Street, or police, whatever, until I stepped back, and placed it in the context of absurdity, fear and personal experience.
Of course WSM is absurd. It is a concept based upon individuals truly believing that, by putting aside their personal fears, and committing to the collective conscious, that collective conscious, democratically expressed, free of fear, will actually take care of all the personal fears.
How absurd for us to believe that we could get the simple lesson that we conquer fear by simply not being afraid? Instead, we never get past the reality that the collective is no more that the collection of all the unaltered individual fears.
Why on earth do ISIS truly believe that they can overcome the unified fear of the remainder of the nations on earth? Because of their own fears.
Why do small-minded people persist in believing that restricting the freedom of individuals will ever lead to other than violent response? Fear.
So. There it is. Geoff's lesson of the day. Overcome fear to understand absurdity. Embrace absurdity with a chuckle, in order to understand purpose. Restrict purpose to making impact on what is around you. In a benign fashion. Always with the understanding that the purpose is not design or destination, it is the journey, the faith, the good works and the chuckle last thing at night.
Which is not to say we minimize purpose. Far from it. We energize it with faith. Not religious faith. Faith in people. Faith in ourselves. Faith in the concept that opening our eyes to the immediate, the possible and the realistic allows for the collective to be achieved by the combination of the many realities.
For universal ambition is an arrogance that serves only the self. Helping those around us, understanding the power of our immediate limitations, is the means truly to serve those we know, ourselves and life purpose. That is the lesson of life. That is the power of life. It's magic. Along with a good chuckle.
I believe in St. Peter. Not the guy in the white robe. But some sort of higher power, collective enlightenment, continuing universal consciousness. Some sort of meter that will affect what happens next. But I like St. Peter.
And I look forward to saying to St. Peter. Sorry, mate. I ain't Barack, or Bill, or Steve, or Dave, or Angela. I did nothing big. Nothing lasting. No legacy. Not even a footnote. I'm the guy who laughed. Who realized it was all a cosmic joke. And spent a few years trying to help a co-worker not to cry. Gave a bike to an unknown little girl. Wrote a song that made people laugh. Got to the bottom of a twenty-seven mystery. And sold 270 books to the only folks who cared. And yet. I feel good. And don't give a toss what you think. What's next?
Only to hear him say. Huh. Barack and the rest are back in kindergarten. Big Fella wants to see you. Or some such. Yup. Time for one of the purple ones ...