December 07, 2007

Solitude and self–reflexion

  I am currently sitting alone in a cafe in Bordeaux, the city where I am studying as an ERASMUS student.  Being here, drinking coffee whilst watching people and contemplating, I am very much fitting a French stereotype. Studying in Bordeaux has proven to be quite a lonely experience at times and by having so much time to myself, I have the tendancy to reflect a great deal.   Reflection can indeed be productive as it can help organise and clarify thoughts, but if you think too much without writing anything down, the thoughts are left to buzz and clog up your mind and you can lose a sense of grounding. 
  Writing can relieve mental constipation and render ideas more lucid.  Fears or bad thoughts can often appear to be less serious when they are written down.
  It has been a long time since I've written anything I've been thinking down because I have always felt that talking to somebody about them would be better.
  However, when thoughts are written down they appear more concrete and act as a point of reference, so you do not always have to bounce off another person to have some clarity.
  Being alone has led me to think a great deal about death and the absurdity of life.  Thinking about this is not just a result of being alone; my grand-father's recent death has also been a contributing factor.  It may appear ridiculous to think about something which is beyond control, but I feel that I need to develop a philosophy towards it in order to accept it and give life some kind of significance.  If I am left to think about it for too long, my mind can wander and conjur up ridiculous fears because there are no limits to what is unknown.
  Albert Camus notes in The Myth of Sisyphus that finding reason is man's natural tendancy and that the absurd is born from this quest for reason and its confrontation with the unreasonable silence of the world.  There is no definitive conclusion that will satisfy our thirst to understand life, but what Camus highlights is that life is worth living because 'the struggle to live is enough to fill a man's heart'.  To believe in a God that grants us an afterlife is a futile practice because you are relying too much on something which you have no proof for and you may give less importance to the life you are actually living.  Camus' philosophy is one that gives me some consolation and makes me concentrate on what I have now instead of worrying about an unknown future.
 

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