Art, Life

Life is Trying to Stand Upright in a Hurricane

(About a 3 minute read)

I think ever since our species first emerged in Africa, every generation of humanity has been a bit like a man trying to stand upright in a hurricane.  Not one of our species has ever been strong enough to stand straight and tall for long, but even the very few who managed it for even a moment unbowed — even they have died or will die in the end.

The difference today is the major threats of the past implied local, limited devastation while today, the major threats are existential in their scope and potential impact — whether you are talking about thermonuclear war, global climate change, over-population, or a handful of others.

Having said that, how does one once again stand upright in a hurricane and thus, in effect, assert that standing upright in a hurricane is worthwhile, is the thing to do? For the alternatives seem to be despair, nihilism, and defeat.

I think there are at least a few actual answers to the question, but I would like to take a brief look at just two of the answers here.

The first answer is the one I consider the most optional, the answer we can most easily refuse.  Whether or not it is a good idea to refuse it.  That is, art.

Art, in this context, should be thought of in the broad sense of anything that asserts beauty has its own intrinsic value, whether it be painting, sculpting, music, poetry, or some other such thing.

The very act of asserting such a seemingly absurd claim — that is, a claim no better founded in any evidence of an objective moral order than the claim the meaning of life is to take the garbage out nightly — is both perhaps unique to our species, and the spiritual equivalent of standing upright in a hurricane.

Then again, that is what our species does, that it is nature, that is us ever since someone carved and then blew the first flute, a flute made from the naturally hollow leg bone of a bird about 60,000 years ago.  It comes to our children instinctively, and continues to come to some of us through-out our lives.   And it is one of a handful of things that got us this far, and perhaps it will get us some distance further.

The second answer to the question of how one is to stand upright in a hurricane is for most of us, the least optional, the answer we can least refuse.  And that is, while we can take to our beds in despair and defeat, we must sooner or later get out of them again.

Or to put it differently, it seems to be generally against our nature to give up, to refuse to stand up.  Some of us might not, but they are a tiny portion of our whole.  For the rest of us, we seem to feel as if we have no real choice.  And maybe we don’t, for we will rise from our beds even without a mustard seed of hope or faith in some one or another purpose or meaning to it all.

9 thoughts on “Life is Trying to Stand Upright in a Hurricane”

  1. You touched something here that I tried to avoid in my elation, meaning of life.
    I don’t like the expression, as Camus likes to say, meaning of life is a useless concept that cannot be connected with the worthiness of actually living our lives.
    Again, this is where Absurdism and Nihilism like to come together and haunt our dreams with infinitely circular concepts, like assigning meaning to something that inherently doesn’t need one.
    But no need to be hopeless, there is a lot to look forward. Thank you for reading my text and, in turn, writing such an honest iteration of a real, cruel reality. I’m endlessly flattered to have inspired you.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. And for the inspiration!

      I would agree with Camus in so far as he might have been talking about the notion that there is some objective or intrinsic meaning to life. But I do think the psychologists are right when they tell us we need to find some purpose or meaning to our lives — even if no objective meaning exists. That’s been my experience. Happiness alone doesn’t cut it for me.

      Again, thanks, Johnny.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Re: your ‘second option’- the force to just keep going because it’s against our nature to give up- funny thing is that the people who don’t have that quality to fall back on (who succumb to despair and doom) don’t (from my understanding of clinical depression) usually obsess about “thermonuclear war, global climate change, over-population, or a handful of others” but rather their own private little hurricanes, or perhaps even what appears to be nothing at all. Brain biochemistry defies reason.

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  3. once we remove the secrets and the sadness only will we find our true purpose in this life. form the moment of understand that our actions have repercussions we lie about everything that’s of fundamental value of ourselves…my 2 cents. I thoroughly enjoyed your discourse here.

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    1. When you say, “we lie about everything that’s of fundamental value”, I think you’re almost as cynical — or, perhaps, as realistic — as I am about that. And your remark about the necessity of removing all the secrets and sadness before we can find our purpose is so spot on! So very spot on!

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      1. a lot of these thoughts stem from a time of reflection on the things I want to improve about myself. I am realistic but also a dreamer, John Lennon lyric kind of dreamer, I do want the world a better place and it hurts when I see it’s doesn’t always work out that way. Cynical? Hmm I had to think for a sec about that, I am selfish to a certain degree maybe as a form of self preservation but I don’t think i am capable of manipulation, influence maybe as I still trust the goodness of the human spirit. I was just a moment ago called evil because i always wear black, that hurt a little, people judge what they don’t take the trouble to find out.

        I am pleased you identified with the secrets and the sadness, I am struggling to overcome these two demons.

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      2. Just a note to clarify, I didn’t mean by “cynical” anything more than “perhaps unrealistically negative”. That’s how I tend to use the word.

        Like you, I have an idealistic side. For me, it’s not something to accomplish, but something to steer by. How about you?

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  4. In the better angels of our nature, we strive to be there for each other, the meek may inherit the earth perhaps not because they are the only ones triumphantly winnowed our, but because they are the only ones who truly see and live it for it’s true purpose: to be there for each other as best we can. This is my inoculation against nihilism, it actually works in clinical trials 47.3% of the time, 😉. I have been enjoying and pondering y’all, thanks

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