Salisbury Street in downtown Raleigh, NC is populated by people wearing a host of expressions ranging between very serious or very sad. The reason-I later realized- is because the Wake County Jail faces the Court house on the same street. In between the two buildings, are a variety of people from vastly different walks of life.
On the intersection on Salisbury Street there is a flashing Bail Bonds sign, and the headquarters of what I assume is the local Newspaper, ‘The Observer’. Emotions on people’s faces that I passed registered frustration, boredom, pain, anger and resignation. Outside the court house policemen or guards- I couldn’t tell the difference-segregated themselves creating an impenetrable wall. Their boisterous conversations suggested camaraderie. They seemed to be the only festive group on the street.
Next to the guards a man was seated on the stone bench, head bent as he contemplated something cupped in his hand. And then unexpectedly, I see something I haven’t seen outside of TV. A man in cuffs was escorted from one of the buildings that I assume was the jail to the court house across the street. His head was bent in humiliation. The officer escorting him looked resigned. Another day on the job. I remember feeling sorry for the man and the officer escorting him. There in plain sight, for the whole world to see, he has just performed his shame ceremony. Soon, the pair was swallowed up into the ominous looking doors to the court house.
While walking down to pay off my ….ummmhhh…dues, I decided to do something different to counteract all the heaviness in the air.
I decided to smile while walking. I decided to make time in my life to smile and be childish. For that moment to be a happy absurd entity on that street full of sad, serious looking people.
Eye contact with some of the people I passed confirmed that my smiling was causing confusion. Some smiled back. Some looked flustered. One complimented my smiling and said that it’s great to meet someone smiling down the street in the morning.
It’s all so absurd isn’t it? Life that is. Especially how seriously we take it so that we can’t find time to be present to the experience of living. Most of life really makes very little sense. Life’s unpredictability means that we have to participate in living life fully despite the curve balls that might come our way.
It’s all quite absurd. I remember thinking that day, How tied we are to our individual stories whether it’s in our past or what we hope will happen in the future.
I came across this TED video that summarized just how easier life would be were we to take the time to share in the absurdity of it all.
Experiencing each moment means to stop striving. Swimming along with the current is easier than swimming against it. To find ways to just ‘BE’; even as life forces us to make adjustments. Find ways to look around and enjoy our surroundings as we make the changes necessary to live out each moment.
There really doesn’t have to be a point to everything. It’s okay to kick back and enjoy being alive. It’s okay to laugh at the absurdity that is life.
In the end, and there is always an end, how do you handle being alive?
- Storytelling – Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Attempting the absurd…. (trishborgdorff.wordpress.com)
- Philosophy Word of the Day – Absurd (greatcloud.wordpress.com)