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Some Ramblings


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Some Ramblings

I have sat down at least three times to write this column. About committees, about the science program, about Parker’s self-aggrandizement. But every time I have tried to write about those topics, I’ve come up with nothing original to say. The only thing I can think of, probably because of how incredibly dreary the state of the world and personal issues, is: what, ultimately, is the point of my actions? When I write these columns, am I doing anything but shouting into the void? Generally, these columns have been a concrete critique of Parker, however, right now, I don’t think I can do that. So, this issue will just be some ramblings.

I must warn you much of this column will feel like a surly teenager trying to grab attention and act smart. While this is probably true, I am writing this from as honest a place as possible. 

Years ago, I became interested in questions of our purpose. My parents aren’t super religious, however, I had still been taught to believe in the core tenets of Hinduism. One of those is the idea that you are born with a purpose and throughout your life, you are simply realizing this purpose. It’s an incredibly comforting thought. You can take solace in the idea that you don’t have to seek significance or meaning in your life, that it already exists. In fifth grade, when my asthma got to the point where I was being hospitalized week after week, I lost my faith in the ability for things to just fall in line. 

I abandoned Hinduism and embarked on a journey through the major religious texts. I read the Bible, Quran, Vedas, and Tripitaka, but I couldn’t see the world reflected in the texts I read. This changed when I read the novella “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus. Through this book I came upon a philosophy called existentialism. A philosophy based upon the idea that is, to quote the father of existentialism, Jean Paul Sartre, “existence precedes essence,” meaning that people are born without a purpose and most die without a purpose, but, if you acknowledge your purposelessness, you can create a purpose, or essence, for yourself. For the past two years, I have been immersing myself in existentialist and absurdist thought from the writings of Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidiger, Camus, de Buevoir, to the music of The Doors, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, JPEG Mafia, and the films of Ingmar Bergman, Kubrick, Hansen-Løve, and many more. 

My engagement with this philosophy got me through the monotony of the lockdown. When I felt moments of sheer pointlessness, I would reference sections of Camus’ masterful essay called “The Myth of Sisyphus” about how Sisyphus found meaning in rolling a boulder up a hill day in and day out, or I would watch the opening of “The Seventh Seal” in which Antonious Block challenges death to a game of chess. I tried my best to laugh and embrace the absurdity of ‘dissecting’ an animal online or in finding the answer to something where the answer is already known to all with an internet connection. More importantly, I managed to find meaning in smaller things I had control of, whether it be taking, developing, and editing photos, reading, or just sitting on the phone and talking to someone. 

I can’t tell you why but this method to create meaning for myself has failed to bring me motivation to care about the ‘embryonic democracy’ we supposedly all belong to. Maybe it’s because I had more motivation during online school to get tasks done as, in my mind, I was just killing time until life returned to some sort of normalcy. 

Or maybe it’s because I allowed myself to hope that, after last year, something was going to change in how our school and our world works. Maybe I’ve just lost motivation to work because it feels like I’m Sisyphus, cursed to constantly have the boulder roll down the hill, as though I’m working towards nothing. And, unlike before, I can no longer laugh at that monotony. I have lost my ability to embrace the absurd hypocrisy of the rhetoric of the society and especially the school we go to. I have lost the purpose that has allowed me to keep working and working and working and working. 

Today, I partially regret giving up the safety net of Hinduism—a faith where every person has a purpose. But I also know that’s a lie. I don’t have a purpose to drive me right now, however, until I find something that gives me purpose, I need to laugh at the absurd so as not to be swallowed by it.