CHRIS FILPO ’17
“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” – Albert Camus
Are people really happy? It is difficult to know what makes people truly happy today. It seems as if society strives for happiness, but when do we actually experience those moments that truly make us happy?
In our culture, people may be happy for a moment, a day, or maybe a weekend. Yet, in the morning, many individuals wake up feeling upset and disappointed that they are back in their usual routine and no longer living the fantasy of the weekend. On Mondays, we always follow the same repetitive routine and weekly schedule, experiencing things in life that may not be as joyful as our days off. At the start of the weekday, we wake up in the morning and get ready either for school or work. You might hate your job and say, “Damn! I have to go to work today” or you may be in college saying, “Ugh, I have this big paper to write.” Some people cannot wait for the weekend to either relax or go out and have fun. Usually the good times are cherished and remembered for a couple of days after they occur. However, when life is tough and you start to become unhappy, it feels as if this unpleasant feeling becomes unforgettable.
In our fast-paced culture, the chances of failure are constantly present. People are always struggling and experiencing conflicts instead of having a good time. People always have responsibilities, and this causes us to feel worried, anxious, and concerned. And that’s how life is. In the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus illustrates a great image of our world. Constantly pushing a rock up over a mountain and watching it roll back down; Sisyphus embraced this as his life. This notion reflects how people’s lives never change as they constantly accept their daily routines. It may seem upsetting but this is how people have to behave in this world. Never quitting and constantly fighting to reach the top will eventually bring joy to their lives.
Happiness has become this cultural objective that society should pursue. If you say you are not happy, people pity you and view you with disgrace. Honestly, I haven’t been truly happy in a long time because I don’t wake up in the mornings looking to be happy. There are many experiences in my life that bring me joy, like celebrating Mother’s Day and watching my mom’s smile as she appreciates the day with her two sons. I will always remember when Dr. Viktor E. Frankl stated in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” One must let happiness come to them. It should not be something to strive for in life. The same way love is unconditional, so is happiness.
Life has many phases where we try to enjoy or accomplish things. Once it’s all over though, we move on and time fades this good feeling away. We wake up the next morning, with new purposes and new things to strive for. As I move on to the college phase of my life, I have had people ask me, “What do you think about college? Isn’t it wonderful?”
“It’s ok. It’s just college.” I would respond unenthusiastically.
“Well are you not happy? Are you not having a good time?”
“Some days I have a good time but nah, not really.” I would say.
These people would look at me as if I am crazy. College is seen as a great accomplishment that should make people happy. Yes, it brought joy in my life but the days in our lives are still moving forward. That happiness faded away and now I have new purposes, a new drive. As a scholar and an athlete, I aspire to continue to reach the top of the mountain in both fields. As we continue to move forward, life only becomes more challenging.
However, that is how we grow as people. It is this challenge that pushes me forward. We should push, not to find happiness, but to discover meaning if there is any. And in order to find meaning in our lives, we must embark on challenges and experience moments of suffering. Eventually, facing these moments of hardship may lead us to understand and value what happiness is.
I think we have two options in our lives. We can either live pursuing happiness while we’re young or we can live life finding meaning to live and grow old looking back at those experiences. In order to understand the world we live in, we must look within our self and discover what we really want. Once we figure that out, we need to persevere, like Sisyphus, for the rest of our lives. At the end, happiness will find us.
This essay was written for a first-year writing course with Professor Irene Papoulis.