Battling Absurdity

Everyone at some point in their lives will encounter moments of absurdity. In those moments of absurdity, people often feel angry, sad, confused, disappointed, and generally unhappy.

What is absurdity? The answer varies depending on the person you ask. Albert Camus defines absurdity as the confrontation between man’s expectation and the world. Due to my Buddhist beliefs, I respectfully deviate from Camus’ definition and would like to add to his definition. Absurdity is the moment when you let your attachments (or expectations) get in the way of happiness. Perhaps starting off with a definition is a bit too abstract and the concept seems too unclear. Instead, I will begin with a list of absurd moments in my life (ranked in order of increasing absurdity):

  1. I spent my free Sunday driving to Los Angeles to eat at my favorite restaurant. Upon my arrival, I am disappointed to find that the restaurant is closed on Sunday.
  2. During my freshman year of college, I studied all week for a math midterm. It seemed that the more I studied, the less I understood. I cried in my room the night before the exam, certain that I would fail. On the morning of the exam, I found that the exam was postponed due to a chemical explosion in the building. A week later, I took the exam and passed with a decent grade.
  3. In high school, I couldn’t wait to leave my hometown. Even more so, I was so excited to leave behind the cliques and drama of high school. Unfortunately, I found that the social life of college reflected that of high school and its drama was elevated by ten fold. Moreover, I remain nostalgic for the times I spent in my hometown.
  4. When I was very young, my parents divorced each other. This moment changed my concept of “family” forever.
  5. On more than one occasion, I have had loved ones die unexpectedly.

Think about your life and your moments of absurdity. How did you feel? How did you deal with it?

In all of these events, I have asked, “Why me?!” and perhaps even shouted, “This is CRAZY!” These phrases are the trademark of absurdity. Yet the questions remain, where does absurdity originate and how can we eliminate it? Absurdity is the product of our attachments. Let’s look at scenario #1. Because I was so attached to eating at a particular restaurant, I became disappointed, even angry, to find that they were closed. If I would have “gone with the flow”, I would have taken advantage of the multitude of restaurants LA has to offer and I would have had a great time. Instead my anger of not having my attachments met, poisoned what could have been a very happy day.

My point is, letting go of your attachments will make you a happier person. Instead of desiring something and getting disappointed when you don’t get it, try to appreciate what is in the moment. Although absurdity has its way of creeping into to all of our lives, just know that we are not powerless against it. Let go of your attachments and enjoy the present.

Let go…

Let go…

Let go…

Happy yet?!

-Jen / Nita


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. T
    Apr 01, 2011 @ 12:16:12

    Your post reminded me of one very wise quote, from Ajahn Chah, which goes: “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace.”.


  2. ST
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:22:40

    I can see why this post is filed under “wisdom” – because there sure is a lot of wisdom here. Thank you for the great post. May we all cultivate the wisdom that will free us from the absurdity of attachments.


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