Last night, my heart changed. Or actually, maybe it was after I woke up today.
Something happened last night -- something stupid and, ultimately, inconsequential. But, to me at least, it was symbolic. One small thing, combined with far too much alcohol, sent my heart on a tip. And when I grabbed my bag and just walked out of that club at 3 am this morning, without saying a word, I walked out on a lot more than that.
My last year in New York was traumatic, to say the least. A lot of shit went down. And, I mean, a lot of shit went down. Then I went home to Texas and it was like the second wall of shit I left behind decided to cave in on top of me as well. By the time I was ready to leave for Korea, I was ready to leave a lot more than New York and my hometown behind. I had made up my mind that life just wouldn't be like that anymore. I'd keep my mouth shut about the past, not over-think things. Live simply. And, for God's sake, be happy.
Of course, I didn't imagine Korea would be a paradise devoid of difficulty. I knew there would be a whole lifetime of challenges to face. But there's a difference between the challenges you face when undertaking a new situation, and the ones that just seem to follow you and cling on from behind.
The trouble, my friends, is that new challenges eventually become old challenges.
In an email to a dear friend today, recapping the situation, I mentioned having a feeling akin to Sisyphus. You know the guy -- the pushing the rock up the mountain guy. The guy condemned to a fate of an eternity of completing the same meaningless task over and over and over, only to watch the result all of the hard work he has just completed crumble before his eyes, only to have to turn around and complete the same arduous task again, all the while knowing that effort is futile.
Dramatic much? Stay with me, guys. I am getting to a point.
I spent the day with another dear friend who helped me to put things into perspective, and who also reminded me that I'm not alone here, and that everything I try to do is not in vain -- after all, I did meet him. And he's an A+, gold star kind of guy -- the kind who gets a teen angst text message from you at 3 am, and instead of deleting you from his phone book, comes over the next day to cook a late breakfast and talk some sense into you. After that, I got thinking more about this Sisyphus thing. And I remembered that Albert Camus wrote an essay about Sisyphus, which I had never read:
At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.
If you studied anything like what I studied at university, you've seen this argument made a thousand times by a thousand different philosophers and scholars, from a thousand different perspectives, all coming to basically one of only two conclusions:
1. Life, and all of its struggles are futile. There is no god, no higher purpose and no meaning. We're fucked.
2. Life, and all of its struggles are futile. There is no god, no higher purpose and no meaning. Except for that which we make for ourselves, in our everyday undertaking of the futile. In our acknowledgment of the futile. In our defeat of our fear of the futile. Or in the small moments that happen in between, in which we find some small escape from the futile.
It's enough. Because it has to be enough. And it's okay, because it has to be okay.
And one friend made out of a thousand attempts is valuable enough to make it worth it. My handful of people scattered all over the globe, gained from ten years of existing and interacting and three continents of traveling, are valuable enough to make it worth it.
What it all comes down to, really, is this:
The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
So, that's it. The struggle has arrived in Korea. But that small, stupid thing that happened last night was probably the best thing yet. I've given up on trying to get out from under the weight of things for now. Life isn't simple. And we all know what they say -- wherever you go, there you are. I'm re-focused now. I feel like I just woke up.