Create Meaning out of Absurdity
Today I feel overwhelmed with the state of the world. Throughout the week, the looming fear of war in Eastern Europe has now assumed the form of an abominable monster. Now and then, my stomach clenches, my heart seized by existential misery. I feel constant revulsion inside my body, whenever I see videos of missiles hitting Kyiv and mass exodus in the wake of the unfathomable winter that enveloped the terrains and the future of Ukraine. I don’t know who is right and who is wrong, my epiphanies are not groundbreaking, and my empathy might not lead to any change. But I am swaying in and out of the collective pain, and I long for its healing. I can feel everything at once - the loss and separation of the Ukrainians, and the guilt of the Russians. The images of war rubbles spotting the white snowy landscape, and orphaned children left to fend for themselves have left me incapacitated. Although I am a writer and words are the tool of my choice, today I feel the limits of the power of language. I feel vulnerable as if a wound is left open to ooze out in flowing water. I feel rocked to the depth of human despair and endless suffering. I feel ashamed at the diplomacy and the double standards of my helpless government. I don’t blame them either because their stance was necessary for the well-being of my country. I feel ashamed of my double standards too. To wake up to the devastating news and then go about my day, having sumptuous meals, laughing with family, and taking time to relax. I feel guilty of my joy, of the blanket of fulfilling abundance that surrounds me. I feel fretfully awake in the conundrum of existence. And yet I feel human. Shockingly, miserably, hopelessly, pitifully human. No matter what philosophy or higher ideals I embrace today, nothing changes the fact that I am going to sleep in a warm bed tonight while children will be shivering in the cold basements and bomb shelters. I am painfully aware of that reality, and my heart remains wide open to cradle their grief.
Berkana, my brainchild, that embodies the spirit of fierce opposition to crime against humanity, is shaken by the unfoldings of several war crimes happening right now in the war zones. The ethos of courage, that I had so thoughtfully stitched through the fabric of my work, today seems distant, even vague. The pointless suffering around the world is debilitating rather than infuriating. Today, I beg your pardon for not having an inspiring story to tell. And I request you to allow me to meditate for longer on what it means to face despair and continue living a meaningful life. My aspirations might not be of any particular importance, yet I dream today. I harbor a ravenous hunger for peace. I remain constantly arrested in my need to evoke a sense of justice in the collective consciousness. I remain rooted in my fervent intention of setting on fire the passive indifference of people towards each other. To invoke their conscience and initiate them on the path of change created through the inner space of deep compassion.
Today, I encourage you to stay wide awake while facing the consequences of human deceit. I insist that you look straight into the eyes of the malevolent monsters of greed, to acknowledge their presence, to defy handing them over your inner power. I assure you that you are not alone in this struggle, that I, in all my presence, am struggling right beside you. I implore you to keep your heart open amid all this ghastliness, to not despair at the brokenness of the world. To hold on to your flickering soul, to plant sunflowers in ashes, to refill barrels of gunpowder with pixie dust. I urge you to create hope and happiness everywhere you go, even if all you can taste is molten melancholy in this treacherous display of human conceit. My dear reader, I pray that you implode with the intensity of a million supernovas and create a space for inspiration, love, and compassion in this world. I invite you to create meaning in midst of all these absurdities. And if like me, you too are contemplating on how to stay purposeful amid such suffering, I bring into your consciousness this deeply evoking and poetic work of Carl Sagan. Now that we are standing on the brink of nuclear warfare, this piece echos the truth of our immediate reality.
Finally, I leave you today with an old and imperfect lyrical musing that I wrote for myself a long time back. I call it 'Death of the light'
There will be no sun, no moon, no glory of the ephemeral light in the night sky today as I sit here ranting dubiously
Madness is eclipsing human civilization announcing doom
Today the earth won’t be graceful as the amazon burns, and baby joey burns alive with it
Today there won’t be any music as the symphony reimagines itself dancing on a distance on melting ice glaciers, fading through the blankets of dark silence.
The wind will stand still as the abyss will beckon softly to the wild hearts with precarious promises of vanity and power
The temples won’t see strings of festive lights, no celebration of being alive today as the dead and the poisoned swirls on the ocean bed
God has abandoned his house today as his sons plunder the city feasting on the blood of the innocent
The flowers have refused to bloom, and the mandolin is out of tune
And the hungry scavenge through garbage for food
The world will stand still today as children and women burn in the war of influential men who are trying to forge identity through the assertion of brutal force
The cuckoo bird sits quietly not filling my empty spring afternoon with songs of Mother Earth today, only echoing gunshots spill over the valley of despair
Is this the planet I live on, the one with a cancerous heart and plastic soul?
The one that I don't recognize anymore, the one that doesn’t feel like home?
Is this the civilization I belong to, the one that tastes like disaster and gunpowder, where nightmares are distributed through technology?
Is there a pertaining hope, in this dead darkness, is there a mountain beyond which dawn will rise in glory again?
Can this civilization be nurtured back to health by the same pair of hands that torn it apart?
Will I ever encounter hope in the death of the light?
To these existential questions, I found a resounding 'yes' in ‘Return to Tipasa’, written by the French Algerian writer and pioneer of absurdist philosophy, Albert Camus.
In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.