I sit in a cafe to stifle despair. Assaulting the cortex with caffeine to stimulate further thought and distraction from reflective despair of self. Is everything a distraction from self? From a past that is over? From the realization that my community has shrunk to almost nil. I am like a Karamozov brother whose isolation diminishes his world, his influence, presence shrinking, while Alyosha’s world and Zossima’s expands by the grace of God. Alyosha grieves for his brother, continues to love him and seeks to pull him out of his despair. This is what divine love is and what friendship is, a continual presence to those who are lost, in despair, those who suffer, to shine a light, to extend a hand like the hand of Christ at the resurrection depicted in the icon.
The existentialist finds a hope in a cosmos without a God or Creator in creating one’s own path or fate. Setting goals, finding one’s own telos. Realizing one’s own finitude, yet striving on seeking a flourishing in the midst of a finite universe and existence. Creating one’s own meaning. But this too is despair, for me at least. Kierkegaard sees the self that is in relation to God as the only existence one is not in despair. I think he is correct in this assertion. Otherwise I am in cognitive dissonance if all is finite and there is nothing that is infinite, no God. The burden of being responsible for one’s own subjective freedom is crushing. I cannot happily push my despair and melancholy up the hill to have it roll down continuously. I can suffer well. I’d rather not, but what brings meaning to suffering is Christ’s suffering, the cross the affliction but also the redemption because of the resurrection. The infinite entered this broken finite world–that is our hope. But our hope lies in the renewal of this mess not its entropy and destruction.
Each day brings a vacillation of slight joy or despair or something neutral. Would living elsewhere alleviate any of this? Potentially. But one brings oneself wherever one goes. After an initial excitement, feelings will vacillate as well. Time away temporarily helps renew as well, until the next burn out. Sisyphus continues to push the rock up the hill. Life a seemingly monotonous repetition, with some pleasantness, some despair, some joy, and repeat in all kinds of variations.
Kierkegaard thought his age was too self reflective. I think we are in that same boat in this age. But it depends on the person. Self reflection has its uses, but it can paralyze too. We want someone we trust to tell us what to do, someone wise. We, alone, only know so much.