In the preface of his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus states that the story is “A lucid invitation to live and to create, in the very midst of the desert. “ I agree with this statement as I believe that life is meaningless unless we create our own meaning. The world is merely arbitrary effects of causes that manifest and create life as we know it.
When Camus says that the myth of Sisyphus is an invitation to live and create, he is saying that from this story we can learn to live on although life is meaningless, and create meaning in life as Sisyphus does. He was given a destiny which he was forced to live by, but still gave it meaning even though he was not doing anything that truly meant anything to anyone but himself. I agree with Camus statement, as i believe that meaning is different to everyone, and that the only way to live a life that you feel is fulfilled is to follow what you believe.
In this essay, I will explain why I agree with Camus by first explaining how arbitrary the meaning of life is, I will then give a rebuttal pointing out that we all share common ideals, and then I will end off ultimately refuting that point by saying that life is only meaningless when you follow the ideals of others. It is evident that the meaning of life is different for everyone. To one person, what is a meaningful and successful life, is a life wasted to another. Who can truly be the judge of what is a meaningful life?
Take a religious Christian person for instance, they feel that their life is only worth living if they follow the rules set out by their God. So they go through their whole lives abiding those rules, and living for God. Obviously, to them God is very real, there is no doubt about that. To live a sinful life means to spend the rest of eternity in the depths of hell after they die, which is clearly torturous, and any Christian’s worst fear. So much so, that they would do absolutely anything for their God, if it meant they would be able to spend their afterlife in Heaven. To the serious Christian, God comes first before anything else.
That includes family, work, school, and any other earthly pleasures. God is something to devote your life to, it is something that is with you for the entirety of your life, and should be a factor in each decision that is made. To the atheist on the other hand, this is ludacris. As they do not believe in any God, they would never even think about doing half the things a religious person would do for their God. They would find meaning elsewhere. Whether it be to raise a family, pursue a career of their dreams, or travel the world. They have different priorities and different goals.
One could even look at a non-religious, middle-class person in the United States in contrast with a non-religious, lower-class person in China. There is the average middle-class American who finds meaning in having the newest pair of Nike sneakers to show off, and then there is the person making those shoes in a sweatshop, completely unaware of the fashion world in America, who finds meaning in seeing her children eat, as it is a struggle to put a meal on the table. You could offer this person a free pair of Nike sneakers, but the brand would probably be irrelevant to this person, as it has no meaning to her.
So The Myth of Sisyphus shows us that no matter the circumstances we live under, it is all about the meaning you give to your life. It does not matter if you are religious or not, rich or poor, have everything you want or are stuck doing something against your will, it is all about how you perceive it. Sisyphus was able to overpower the rock that was supposed to be weighing him down, because he created meaning out of it. The myth inspires us to live on through our struggles, and create meaning out of them. It is true to say that the meaning of life is different to everyone.
As a global community, we cannot all decide on one absolute truth. Therefore, it makes most sense to go with the majority of your country. This is what gives a society order and structure. For example, here in North America, having a job that makes you well off financially is seen as being successful in life. This is one of the major goals everyone wants to reach- to be financially well off. Nobody wants to struggle to get food on the table, nobody wants to be living out on the streets, it is seen as a very positive thing to have a lot of money.
We see people living in mansions, wearing expensive clothes, going on luxurious trips, living lavishly, and we want that. It has become the American Dream. Since this has become the ideal life, people strive to work hard and go to school so that they can one day reach that point where they have money to burn. Its seems as though once you reach that point, you will have no more problems, no more worries, as we have created a society where money can fix almost anything. For that reason, it is logical to say that money can and will give you a meaningful life.
At the end of the day, the only way you will live a meaningful life, is if you follow your heart, and live the life you truly want, a life you believe is worth living. You can let other people’s idea of the good life influence you, or you can take your life into your own hands and do what you truly want. Anyways, how can anyone now a days take someone else’s word for what is a good life? It is true that the majority of people at least in North America believe that being financially well off will equal a successful and therefore meaningful life, but then again there are so many depressed, suicidal rich people.
So if someone spends their life striving for what society says is successful, then they finally reach that point of success which they are worshiped for, does that mean the rest of their life will be meaningful to them? I can disprove this by looking at an example from the myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was living a life no one would want to live- merely pushing a rock up a hill, letting it fall back, and then bringing it back up again. To most people, this would be torturous, boring, tiring, and one of the worst ways to live.
Many people would want to commit suicide if they had to live a life like this. But Sisyphus was clearly different, as he accepted the present for what it was. He knew that he could not do anything to change his situation, so instead he embraced his hardships. The myth teaches us that happiness is a constant growth, not a destination. It teaches us if we think we need something else in our lives to make us happy, we will never be. Of course it is great to dream big and set a goal, but the main point here is to appreciate the journey.
If you neglect to appreciate your journey, you will merely speed through life never enjoying the little things, and that is truly what creates meaning to your life at the end of the day. To conclude, I agree with Camus when he said that the The Myth of Sisyphus is “a lucid invitation to live and to create, in the very midst of the desert. “ I believe that the meaning in life must be created based on the individual, and that a life spent following other people’s idea of happiness is misguided.
Meaning in life depends on the individual, it does not matter if you are religious or not, rich or poor, have everything you want or are stuck doing something against your will, it is all about how you perceive it. Yes, it is true that we naturally conform to the majority around us when it comes to what a meaningful life is. But then again, if there is anything that The Myth Of Sisyphus teaches us, it is that happiness is a constant growth, not a destination. The main point here is to appreciate the journey, and that is truly what creates meaning to your life at the end of the day.