I’ve witnessed Ifa rituals in which aspirants have their heads ceremoniously shaved, symbolizing the shedding of their former selves to make way for a new, transformed personality. This phenomenon is pervasive in various forms of expression around us. Whether it’s the solemn pledging ceremonies of black fraternities, teenagers dyeing their hair in vibrant purplish-blue hues, or young spiritualists emulating ancient rituals in their quest to transcend the monotony of everyday life and find a path to happiness. Albert Camus On Happiness provides us with the tools to live presently and fully:
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
However, it’s important to recognize that these external expressions of an inner desire for change are akin to performances, mere theatrics. True change, as Albert Camus profoundly articulated in “The Myth of Sisyphus,” occurs in the deepest recesses of the human heart. Camus eloquently delved into our innate yearning for familiarity, clarity, and the pursuit of simplifying the world into a manageable pill we can swallow each morning saying:
The mind’s deepest desire, even in its most elaborate operations, parallels man’s unconscious feeling in the face of his universe: it is an insistence upon familiarity, an appetite for clarity. Understanding the world for a man is reducing it to the human, stamping it with his seal. The cat’s universe is not the universe of the anthill.
It requires a great deal of compassion, introspection, and attentive listening to come to the profound realization that one’s experience of life is not unique. As a child, such a notion seems unfathomable, but the true appreciation of the human existence emerges when we hear narratives of despair, heartbreak, and the very emotions that silently gnaw at us, voiced by individuals we never suspected were grappling with similar afflictions.
Considering that the universe is an extension of ourselves, and we are inextricably linked to it, we can postulate that the universe possesses the capacity for both love and suffering. It can feel, undergo transformations, and evolve. This revelation implies that our addiction to formality and the monotony of rituals stands in stark contradiction to the fundamental essence of the universe.
Albert Camus, in his masterful exploration of the absurd, unveils our innate yearning for unity and our unrelenting nostalgia for the familiar, asserting:
That nostalgia for unity, that appetite for the absolute illustrates the essential impulse of the human drama. But the fact of that nostalgia’s existence does not imply that it is to be immediately satisfied. For if, bridging the gulf that separates desire from conquest, we assert with Parmenides the reality of the One (whatever it may be), we fall into the ridiculous contradiction of a mind that asserts total unity and proves by its very assertion its own difference and the diversity it claimed to resolve. This other vicious circle is enough to stifle our hopes.
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