Sunday, June 17, 2007

On Reading, Part Two

About a year back while in a medical study, I read all of Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus in one sitting.

I don't recall much about that book except that I truly enjoyed it. I don't recall many of the chapters nor many of the scenarios he describes in his theories. For that matter, I barely recall the theories themselves. I
remember it ending upon the myth of Sisyphus itself - a man condemned by the gods to push a boulder up a mountain for eternity - and how at each moment when the boulder is at the top of the mountain, before it falls back down to the bottom, Sisyphus had beaten the gods. He accomplished his task and for that one, brief moment, he should be smiling because he did it. The fact that it was to start over again did not matter; that was another challenge to be conquered. Camus' final conclusion was that Sisyphus, a man condemned to an eternity of meaningless physical labor, must be happy. I recall after reading it that, for reasons I still do not quite understand, I was happy.

Two years prior my fiancee had left me and I had sunk into a rather deep depression: slept on average 14-16 hours a day for about three months straight, worked a graveyard shift at a tech support job, dropped out of college for a semester and was never happy to wake up because I knew the day would only bring more sadness. I had somewhat pulled myself back together over the two years time. I had gone back to school and was getting good grades, I was sleeping regularly; I still wasn't happy or really making any new friends.

When I read those final words, I remember smiling. I remembered what it felt like to look at a cloudy day and smile at how it looked like God had put a blanket over the world, keeping it safe. I remembered how beauty could be found in watching a leaf fall from a tree, thinking about all the various physical forces acting upon it caused it to move in a completely unique way and how, for that one instant when it fell, it was able to get noticed over all the other leaves on the tree and on the ground. I remembered what it felt like to wake up and be happy that a new day started, because it was a chance to learn new things, appreciate beauty, and experience life itself.

I remembered what happiness was. I smiled, and I've always kept a part of that smile with me since then.

Things haven't always been good for me since then and I've been sad now and again. It's part of life. But through it all, I've always remembered the final line: "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." That line alone has always made me smile because it embodies everything that happiness is. Happiness isn't something that I achieve or finally arrive at. It's not something that will come around when all my problems go away. It's something that I have inside me. If Sisyphus is happy, there's no reason I shouldn't be.

I can be happy.

I am happy.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Dear Brother:
Jeff told me you have a blog. I have never blogged or left a message on a blog, because I'm not technologically up-to-date. But I think your blog is cool and I think you are an talented writer and very intelligent.