What if there is more going on within us than we realize? The philosopher Kierkegaard once asked, “What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?”

In The Stranger, philosopher Albert Camus wrote,

"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."

Albert Camus

Do you feel “something stronger” pushing back against the world?

In his classic War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy explained that pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy. It seems our emotions are often more intertwined and complex than we understand. But, what if the distance from hate to love or chaos to calm is shorter than we think?

Can one simply decide to choose love, joy, or calm…?

In the final chapter of The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat the same meaningless task of forever pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.

Although Camus insists one must imagine Sisyphus as happy,

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’sheart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”

Albert Camus

It is easy to forget the agency we have to push back against life. As the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus put it, “If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” We can find meaning in the face of the absurd, choose love over hate, and find calm in the chaos of life. It simply comes down to choices.

To quote Camus a final time,

"For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the unstoppable grandeur of this life."

Albert Camus



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