Arun Kumar
3 min readNov 11, 2023

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Why we need to develop a force field against absurdity?

Recognizing the absurdity of life is also a way of surviving — Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof

Arun Kumar

Some time back I, like countless others who have lived on the Earth before, or are living now, or will live in the future, I had some musings on “is it even possible to ever come to terms with our mortality (and the thought that when life end it *really* ends) and develop a way to live and have a functional life?”

Two being together is a paradox; a a potential for being a dysfunctional couple hobbling along and never enjoying moments of harmony or peace.

Like all paradoxes, perhaps the paradox of mortality and living cannot be resolved but can only be managed. Think about “everything I say is a lie.” There is no exit ramp on the highway of this paradox.

In the context of managing this particular paradox, strategies have been developed to wriggle our way out of it. One of them is accepting the path of religion which offers us the olive branch that after our death we continue to exist in some form.

All these solutions resolve the paradox by eliminating one pole of the paradox itself, i.e., when life ends it really does not end, and with that, and one side of the paradox eliminated, it is easy to think about living a functional life.

The other extreme of possibilities, of course, is that the short span of time is all there is given to us and all we could do is to accept and try to reconcile with this notion and have a functional life.

One of the primary consequences of the harboring this thought is that when we get a respite from the daily grind of living and want to sit back and take a bird’s eye view of our life, then occasionally, then an uncomfortable feeling (or a question) why in the world we have been doing what we have been doing?

All the rat race, the politicking, and the conniving, holding petty grudges! Really? Tomorrow, we can fall off the cliff and holding grudges will not make us any lighter.

With the notion of a finite existence, everything we do in between can feel so profoundly absurd.

Feeling that the motions we go through are at best absurd, what are the options available to us to live with the absurdity and have a functional life?

While there may not be a cure for mortality and the feeling of absurdity it can bring, a possible path forward is to accept consequences and carve a way to live that can soothe the bluntness with which the realization of mortality can push against our flesh.

A possible path is to discover what we value in life and develop a portfolio of activities that aligns with those values. The way to know what we value is to recognize the activities that bring feelings of happiness, sense of accomplishments, emotions of connectedness that transcend our finite self.

Although the paradox of mortality and living would remain a paradox, the approach can still allow us to have a functional, creative, and meaningful life that is occasionally punctuated by the humbleness that mortality can bring.

Recognizing what we value and building a portfolio of engagements with activities that allow us to actualize what we value, is a key to be able to live with the cognizance of mortality and to have a functional life.

May the force of such a portfolio of engagements be with us.

Ciao.

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