It’s my belief that the great ideas of literature, religion and philosophy are—at their core—really about the same things that your life is about and my life is about.
It’s all about the wonder and mystery and pain and joy of being a person in the world.
Albert Camus expressed this well in the following quotation. (Please forgive the ‘genderness’ in the quote. By “man” he clearly means “person”.)
“Great ideas come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirrings of life and hope. Some will say this hope lies in a nation, others in a man. I believe, rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and words every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. Each and every man on the foundation of his own suffering and joys builds for all.”
A couple of responses.
“If we listen attentively, we shall hear…the gentle stirrings of life and hope.”
There is so much noise in the world, so much uproar—on TV, online, in schools, churches, politics. But where in all that noise do we find something to nurture the heart?
As T.S. Eliot wrote:
“Where is the knowledge lost in information? Where is the wisdom lost in knowledge?…Not here. There’s not enough silence.”
Maybe what we need is not more noise…but more silence. More quiet awareness.
Maybe the choice we face is this: to be in the world as one who is merely adding to the noise…or to be one who listens attentively…listening quietly to his or her own life…listening carefully to others…listening for what truly matters in life.
“Each and every man [person] on the foundation of his own suffering and joys builds for all.”
I think Camus is suggesting that the quiet, thoughtful listeners are the ones best equipped to stir up life and hope in themselves and others. And that your quiet quest to be alive and aware adds something significant to the world. As poet Mary Oliver wrote:
“It is a serious thing to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.”