My Absurd Years

My Absurd Years
By M. Awais Aftab

"I don't know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know the meaning… What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms."
-- Albert Camus

It all began in early adolescence when I, a boy of mediocre abilities, found my imagination being sparked by the lives of great geniuses of history - the scientists and philosophers who had left indelible marks on human thought by their spectacular ideas and discoveries. Reading about their lives left such a strong impression on me that I longed to be like them; the life and routine of an average person repelled and horrified me, because it seemed to lack the nobility of the pursuit of truth and the sense of being a part of human history which I so craved for. What I felt then was sheer ambition: great dreams driving me forward and providing coherence to my life. They gave me a meaning, a purpose, a hope … something which I felt distinguished my life from the life-cycle of a fungus or a plant, which too is born, which eats, reproduces and then dies. But the hollowness of the ideals of truth and glory was soon to dawn on me. My disillusionment with the notion of truth, both religious and scientific, was a complicated process, and the result of a long period of philosophical study and deliberation. From Hume's skepticism and Kant's thinking to Popper's critique of science convinced me that the ultimate truth is beyond human reach. The only truth in our grasp is the superficial truth, the knowledge of the phenomena, and the fundamental reality, the noumena, is hidden and unreachable, even for science. The study of philosophical skepticism had already alienated me from religion, so I realized with bitterness that the pursuit of the truth was fruitless: I would never find the Truth. And as for the desire for achievement and glory, it was a myth which gave a fatal blow to these ambitions: the myth of Troy, the story of Achilles and his yearning for glory and the desire to be remembered for thousands of years. The tale made me realize the fundamental futility of seeking prominence and recognition. What would your fame matter to you when you have become but the dust in your grave. And the fact is that in our postmodern world, fame has been reduced to fifteen minutes, and once those fifteen minutes are over, you long for more; you become addicted to it, and an addiction can be anything but meaningful.

So, when the two great purposes of my life were snatched away from me, I found myself staring into the very eyes of absurdity. What is the meaning of my life? What is my purpose? Why am I here? I was lost and disoriented. Once you have become conscious of the absurd, you are forever bound to it. However, with time I realized that absurdity exists primarily at the logical plane; it is reason and logic which always ask 'why' and finding no answer, declare life to be absurd. But what about the role which emotions play in making a life meaningful, a life worth living? Maybe logic was never meant to give you meaning; maybe it was the task of emotions. Emotions don't speak in terms of the objective reality, of 'true' and 'false'. Perhaps the very act of feeling certain emotions is an end in itself, something to which the question 'why' doesn't apply, and something which is, hence, meaningful. And the emotion which fits this criterion most perfectly for me is love; not the ludic, flirtatious, Don Juan-istic variety of love, which is a form of Absurdism itself and only serves to enhance its awareness. I am talking of the love which holds the promise of eternity in every breath, which makes you cherish every instant, and when you look into a pair of eyes, makes you know that the meaning of your life is standing right in front of you, and that though impossible as it may seem, you can at last hold infinity in the palm of your hand…

[Published in Us Magazine today. See it online here.]

Comments

Nouman said…
and..if you love is gone, then what you will hold.
Haider said…
wow thats a brilliant piece of writing.Briefly speaking, u r trying to say that LOVE is the answer to the TRUTH which we seek for.But i think we love because we just want to love.We dont love to get to this Truth because love in itself is a priceless thing.
@ish said…
very well witten...i truly enjoyed reading it
Kunwal said…
and i m curious to read the second part in the next 6, 7 years. :)
Vasudha said…
A very interesting viewpoint.