I watch my cursed boulder tumble down my mountain. I heave a sigh of relief; my aching muscles allowed a brief respite. As I stand on its majestic craggy peak, I survey my mountain beneath me. My boulder is now far out of sight, but I can feel it down below in the darkness waiting for me. I send my thoughts out to it — my boulder you are my work, my affliction, my friend and my enemy. I shall see you soon enough. In these seemingly countless days, logically countable but practically indistinguishable, my mind is not always so clear. At this instant I am aware — tomorrow I may not be. I grasp the moment, tenderly. Let me slow it down and take joy in my thoughts. Before my curse — I can barely remember — I took my thoughts for granted. Mortal, I had a limited amount of time for thoughts, yet I did not enjoy them. Immortal, and now each thought is precious — I have forever and thus have infinite thoughts, yet I take joy in each, insignificant as it is. The absurdity continues, the one constant along with my rock and my mountain to keep me company. Yet as I stand there, the cold rare mountain air turning my breath visible, I am happy.
I remember the moment when first I became fully conscious of my eternal meaninglessness — the horror I felt. With time I came to understand that my previous life, filled with hopes and dreams, was as absurd as my rock and mountain world. I lied to myself then in order to avoid becoming conscious of the true nature of existence. Now I have no such luxury, the stark landscape, unchanging except through my actions, reminds me continually of the futility of my labor.
Mercury says that Camus once wrote about me, "His fate belongs to him."1 He calls me an "absurd hero."2 I now accept this role. My existence is an analogy for the futility of rebellion -- there is no escape from the absurd. I have no hope of completion and no hope of a purpose. Hope would be a lie — I can not console myself with lies. In my acknowledgment of my own ridiculousness I find freedom. I am free to experience, to find joy within myself or to not, and I am free to create my own happiness, even while I am not free from the binds of my curse.
Another mortal writes, "Because there is no absolute certainty to which to turn, each person must discover ultimate purpose on his or her own."3 Is my revolt in spite of meaninglessness my purpose? More often than not I get so caught up in the pure action of my task, nothing else about my condition matters. However, I have accepted that although the task is itself futile, I am free to enjoy it. The feeling of my body straining against the massive weight, navigating the treacherous terrain, my ragged breath, the pulsing of my immortal heart, these things I look forward to. This world is my creation. By my actions I define it. It is my flesh and blood and thought, and thus my purpose.
I listen to my breathing. I start my descent down my beloved hated mountain. My parting thought at Camus is this: He should not use me as an example of an "absurd hero," as by that action he gives my existence semblance of meaning. He takes away my freedom to pursue my own meaning. Is his "absurdity" the lack of knowledge of the bigger context or the knowledge that any bigger context is meaningless? If the context of my existence is a persistent analogy for absurdity then it might cease itself to be absurd. Perhaps Camus was simply ignorant of the larger context of his existence as a tiny thread in the cloth of existence, locally appearing insignificant but with ripples of continuity that pervade everything.
Camus maintains that it is an ascesis to be an absurd creator. This I can understand. I lean into my burden, striving for the purpose of striving or for the purpose of illustration, either way happy to be reunited with my boulder.
1 Camus, A. (1964). The myth of Sisyphus,and other essays. New York: A.A. Knopf. (pg. 123)
2 Ibid. (pg. 120)
3 Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991; 1990). Flow :The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperPerennial. (pg. 225)