As I continue to do battle with my concussion, I occasionally sink into despair. What is the point of living, if you can’t do things you love? I found comfort in a 2022 popular philosophy book, How to Be Perfect, by Michael Schur, who created the TV show The Good Place (and worked on many other shows including The Office and Parks and Recreation).
Specifically, I found hope within one of the most depressing philosophies ever espoused—existentialism. Schur states the philosophy of the existentialist Albert Camus as follows:
“The only way to cope with our desire for meaning inside an empty, pointless universe is to recognize how absurd it is that we exist in an empty, pointless universe and still desire meaning. He wants us to stand in the middle of the hurricane of absurdity, neither denying it nor allowing it to defeat us.”
—Michael Schur, How to Be Perfect
This reminds me of the recommendation by Judson Brewer that I wrote about in my recent post Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer. If you feel curious about your feelings of anxiety, you can hardly be anxious at the same time. Likewise, if you are noticing the hurricane of absurdity from its eye, you can hardly be swept away by it.
When you’re caught up in absurdity—like a bizarre health problem that doctors can’t understand or fix—there’s something deeply reassuring about the idea that all of life is absurd, not just your specific situation. And there is something deeply reassuring about the fact that we can find calm and contentedness within the absurdity.
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” Schur notes that Camus wrote. Indeed, I believe that one of my most important jobs is to find happiness within the eye of the absurdity of my trauma. I may have to push the @#$%^* boulder up the @#$%^&* hill every day, but I must indeed find joy within that, my allotted fate, at this time in my life.
Writing this blog post makes me happy.
What makes you happy?