Death comes to us all.
As news feeds fill with the demise of Robin Williams the realization that even the most humorous suffer the toils of life overwhelms. I cannot know the preponderance of misery that befell this man, but I know of human suffering.
Have I had a bad life?
Has Robin Williams?
Money? Fame? Success? Family?
All of this wasn’t enough?
Maybe he suffered great trauma as a child?
But perhaps not. I believe it was Charlie Chaplin who said, “to truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it,” but I could be wrong. I think his point is that life is tragically comical. We invest time trying to answer the whys and hows, as if we could arrest the twists and turns of life events.
If somehow they could be contained by human – oh, so human – understanding, I could rest…peacefully.
What a great equalizer human understanding can be. To generate a playing field so ripe in reason must be the most laughable invention known to man! Accepting that things happen, happen to me, with no rhyme, or reason; that’s simply unacceptable!
He didn’t just leave me.
I didn’t just quit my job.
She was not just tragically taken (from me).
War zones don’t just occur.
Droughts don’t just happen.
Earthquakes don’t just take millions.
There are reasons for all of this!
There is the scientific variety.
There is the religious variety.
There is the psychological variety.
Whichever paradigm one gravitates to reasons are by default the method by which human understanding explains, justifies (category mistake!) the freak of circumstance that is otherwise unfathomable.
Why is this unfathomable?
Kierkegaard, Sartre, Nietzsche et al. They knew why.
If not for reason, then for what?
The answer? For NOTHING!
Where does this leave us?
The paradox? With human understanding!
What is the meaning of this?!
Finally a good question.
Immersed in self-doubt over this narrative, self-awareness is raw with potential.
God is dead, exclaimed Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. But you suspected this all along.
If God is dead who, what, will keep everything from falling a part? Will causal events no longer be ordered by His will? Is there no agenda albeit hidden from humanity upon which we can hang our moral hat?
Don’t despair. Well actually do. For in despair there is abundance!
No longer looking outwardly for cause and reason, the journey is inwardly enveloped.
No longer enslaved by reason – for some personified as God’s will, for others as the modern God, Science and yet others it appears as Justice – the freedom felt is both frightening and exhilarating.
For now there is an infinite stream of waters to traverse. Do not worry that the wind shall be your master. Cast your sails and chart you course. And on this voyage do not endeavor to look beyond what the eyes can see.
A passage from Blindness –by Jose Saramago – (fitting, you say?) comes to mind: “If you can see, look. If can look, observe.” (Yes, yes, this is out of context!)
And what then of human suffering?
Were it not for the flood of feeds regarding the passing of the beloved Robin Williams, death, rather her contemplation, would not have reached my consciousness.
Contemplating death, the finality of life suddenly appears like a spoiled child demanding attention.
Why must she cry so?, banging her little fists against the ground. Why does the ground disappear with each sounding blow? Why does she look out onto the world demanding that her suffering be taken away?
Here lies the tragedy of human existence!
The ultimate life affirming force is in despairing over the understanding of ourselves as castaways who must conjure meaning by planting invisible roots.
Those who suffer greatly, live extra-ordinarily. They laugh laudably.