“What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying.” - Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
Any reason to live may be undermined. Life is less a rational activity than it is an absurd one infinitely susceptible to being upset by the winds and whims of people you’ll never know. If we agree with Descartes, then our only intrinsic certainty is doubt, question marks our constant accompaniment. We don’t know, but we agree to stop doubting, and we begin to believe.
So, why do we want a reason to live? Why is it imperative to erase the question mark after ourselves? As if writing in an answer, filling in the blank, won’t inevitably create another cross upon which to hang ourselves. What’s so strange is that we don’t question the existence of the world in the same way; it is, without any further justification. An oblate spheroid orbits a nuclear reaction in space at a distance permitting fascinating phenomena—beautiful. It doesn’t need to be, yet it is. Because what justification could existence accept? What justification could be anything more than an absurd string of syllables signifying nothing but the desperate hope to be seen?
Sisyphus struggles to push his boulder to the heights, only for it to roll back down to the depths. Each day we return to our struggle, and, in the quiet moments of the walk back down the mountain, we are aware. Hide the Knives is a guide down the mountain—some of its most treacherous slopes—unafraid of vertigo, willing to brave the shaky ledges of despair without giving way to hopelessness. After a long struggle, convalescence is a reawakening to the absurd beauty of existence beyond oneself, and it is “[at] that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life…in that slight pivoting, he contemplates the series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him,” and how can one not smile along with the mania of it all?
Is the struggle itself toward the heights not enough to fill a man’s heart? For every restless descent or melancholic return, let’s confess we are sometimes also satisfied, happy, content. Life is loss and reward, and, whether the gods keep score accurately or not, genuine efforts represent time well spent. These songs are a guide as well as a monument to the significance of weathering the storm, enduring the struggle, and keeping true to the passions which underlie every worthwhile endeavor.
Shame. Anguish. Guilt. Melancholy. Love.
Living is saying yes to the absurd fatality of existence, yes to the absurd futility of struggle, yes to the absurd lucidity of reason. At the end of the day, you can’t sway the gods.