A Travellerspoint blog

the stranger.

Tomorrow I fly to Iran for two weeks. Sitting outside and enjoying a perfect Summer evening here in Warsaw I'm not able to grasp whatever is ahead of me in the next 14 days. I don't feel fear nor excitement. I feel empty somehow, filled only with void. Curious about what this experience will bring, but serene.

I've been serene for quite some time now. Been contemplating a lot. It's a great feeling when we are able to stop looking into ourselves and just focus in contemplating the life around us. Especially the lives of those we love and cherish. To quietly notice not only their smiles, their happiness but also their worries and hidden sorrows. To observe them and their souls as a whole but without being noticed. As if, in a given moment, we press pause in life and make a print screen of that specific moment which then we imprint in our memory forever.

I did a lot of contemplation in the past 3 weeks. In that period I've been fortunate enough to spend meaningful moments with my family, my closest friends, with random strangers (like Stefano and Sara in Bologna, maybe one day I'll write about that) and also with myself. In the big scheme of things, our lives might seem an undifferentiated collection of days and moments but how nice it is to acknowledge the beauty in the precise moment it is happening. To let ourselves be overwhelmed by it and at the same time realize the frailty and fleetness of it.

The past weeks have been also a period of loss. My great-aunt recently passed away after a lifelong battle with health misfortune. Not many people know this, but she was and will always be one of the persons I admire the most. While I don't think there's a particular meaning for our existence, I can clearly identify the meaning of her life. She existed and suffered like few to be a beacon for those around her. Through her misfortune, I was able to be taught the most valuable lessons from my parents. Through her, I learned what unconditional love means, I learned what family really means and more importantly, I learned how to enjoy the beauty of my own life. Often my eyes became damp when she smiled. To me, her smile carried all the innocence and pain in the world. When a person that is born deaf, mute and gradually becomes totally blind over the years is able to laugh, I am left with an inevitable truth: how insignificant is our existence, with our petty problems and doubts. Her example helped me to be "happy" (happiness is always a misleading concept, however it is easily understood by everyone) with little and always be aware of how lucky and blessed my existence is. She never knew any of this, locked in her own innocent world. But her life, in all its limitations, was more much purposeful and meaningful than most lives. I always knew that sooner or later I would have to mention her here, so here it is, a simple homage to a divine person.

Camus has been on my mind as well lately. For a variety of reasons. Because it's getting late and I need to rest for my next adventure, I won't elaborate much. But let me just use the words of Sartre to describe Camus' "The Stranger", perhaps my favorite book and character: Meursault.

"If we are able to refuse the misleading aid of religion or of existential philosophies, we then possess certain basic, obvious facts: the world is chaos, a “divine equivalence born of anarchy”; tomorrow does not exist, since we all die. “In a universe suddenly deprived of light and illusions, man feels himself a stranger. This exile is irrevocable, since he has no memories of a lost homeland and no hope of a promised land.” The reason is that man is not the world."

"But that is not all; there is a passion of the absurd. The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusion, and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the “divine irresponsibility” of the condemned man."

"And now we fully understand the title of Camus’s novel. The stranger he wants to portray is precisely one of those terrible innocents who shock society by not accepting the rules of its game. He lives among outsiders, but to them, too, he is a stranger. That is why some people like him—for example, his mistress, Marie, who is fond of him “because he’s odd.” Others, like the courtroom crowd whose hatred he suddenly feels mounting towards him, hate him for the same reason. And we ourselves, who, on opening the book are not yet familiar with the feeling of the absurd, vainly try to judge him according to our usual standards. For us, too, he is a stranger."

Much love to all.

In my element. Maceda. June 2017

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Posted by ZackMeursault 12:21 Archived in Iran

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