THE FOOLISH UNIVERSE
June 5, 2008
It occurs to me this morning that the universe is rather like a good comedy show – maybe a Marx brothers farce. All of creation seems a bit absurd (in the Charlie Chaplin sense), at least when I view it from the perspective of my private little mind. In so many ways, life makes no sense to me. Things happen which seem entirely unreasonable, irrational, and perverse. Contradictions abound: one minute I’m faced with wondrous happiness, and the next I read about a mind-numbing tragedy. If I try to “figure all this out” – try to analyze and “make sense” out of what occurs in this universe, I’m left with the feeling that it’s utterly absurd, much like a Saturday Night Live skit.
And yet, surprisingly, this realization is exactly what helps me to relax. If the universe is absurd, it just means that little, isolated “I” can’t figure it all out, and that I should stop trying. The universe is not a puzzle that I need to spend my life trying to solve. Rather, I should think of it as a very entertaining show – a zany comedy/tragedy, a farce, a series of crazy Jay Leno routines. Sometimes the show is funny, sometimes it’s sad, but it’s always interesting and engaging, and – this is essential to remember – it’s always just a show. To be sure, it's often a thoroughly sorrowful show, one that makes me feel like I am the miserable main character -- but if I'm patient enough, and remember that I actually don't have to be onstage but can just watch "myself" from the audience, the scene will soon change to a happier one. It always does. The point the Marx brothers and all comedians try to make is that life is not as serious as we make it out to be. It’s an eternally changing, endlessly renewing, and amazingly varied performance, and perhaps I need to relax, settle into my seat, and appreciate the astonishing and beautiful craziness of it all.