There Is No Sun Without Shadow

There Is No Sun Without Shadow

“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”Albert Camus

Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus sees the question of suicide as a natural response to an underlying premise, namely that life is absurd. Both the presence of life and the absence of life (that is, death) give rise to the condition that it is absurd to continually seek meaning in life when there is none, and it is absurd to hope for some form of continued existence after death given that death results in our extinction. But does life end with death? As life itself, filled with so much mystery and profundity, who can say for sure what death holds for us.

Sisyphus is the absurd hero. His scorn for the gods, his contempt for death, and his passion for life won him the unspeakable penalty in which his whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing; he has been condemned by the gods for all eternity to push a rock up a steep hill only to have it roll down again once he reaches the top. No punishment could seem as cruel and heartless, even death itself. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of the earth.

There is no fate, however, that cannot be surmounted by scorn. Therefore, Sisyphus gains freedom from the senselessness of his life by accepting his fate. This might seem counterintuitive, but his scorn for the wrath of the gods, his scorn for their threats, their punishment, their supposed superiority, is enough to give his life meaning. As Camus concludes, we must find Sisyphus happy, even though he is condemned to a life of futility and extreme exertion. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.

We are all, in one way or another, condemned to a life of isolation and obscurity, but there is nothing wrong with this. We must take heart in a belief that pain and suffering are a condition of life, not a condemnation. We have not been judged and sentenced to a life of obscurity; on the contrary, we are simply living. There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night. There really isn’t any other way to look at life. My life might be viewed by everyone else as one of frustration and absurdity. In fact, because it is my life, turned on the lathe of my own hopes and disappointments, it can’t be viewed in any other way. In the end, however, it is my life, influenced by my own whims and fancies; this is all I have, but it is enough.

In reading my stories, the reader might be struck with their darkness and sense of despair. But there is always light. Nothing should ever seem so dark or absurd or meaningless to warrant suicide. Curiosity alone should motivate someone to choose to live. My stories are really about coming to terms with the unthinkable, facing what seems incapable of being faced, finding the strength to fight through despair. There is indeed a lot of suffering and despair in my stories, as there is in life. But one should come away from my stories with a renewed belief in one’s own resolute invincibility. One is defeated only when one gives up. We are all vulnerable because we are human, and subject to the human condition. But just what is the human condition? It is different for each of us; some of us see the world under a more glaring light, hoping to reconcile our sense of disorientation and confusion in a universe believed to be absurd; on the other hand, some of us seem to breeze through life relatively unscathed by life’s horror. Either way, life is filled with surprises and disappointments. What defines us as individuals is how we deal with these disappointments and the accompanying sense of hopelessness. As Sisyphus, each of us must scorn life’s ruthlessness, and find his way through the darkness. There is always light.

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