Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Stranger on a Plane

I read The Stranger by Albert Camus while flying to LA last week.  The below paragraph was worth the effort required to read the rest of the book, as it reminded me of a wonderful story.

"I know that at one time or another you've wished for another life."  I said of course I had, but it didn't mean any more than wishing to be rich, to be able to swim faster, or to have a more nicely shaped mouth.  It was all the same.  But he stopped me and wanted to know how I pictured this other life.  Then I shouted at him, "One where I could remember this life!"
                                                                           - Albert Camus, The Stranger

I love this statement.  Imagine if we could "remember" the results of all the decisions we'd made before we made them.  How would our lives be different?

A woman and her mother came into the church and asked to hear about the Purification rundown.  I was the person available to tour them.  The mother was obviously nervous, but interested.  Her daughter, who appeared to be in her mid-40's, was nervous to the point of distraction.  It was clear to me that she was in pain of some sort, and that this kept her from being "present" enough to answer even the simplest of questions.

During our discussion, I discovered from the mother that her daughter was experiencing drug withdrawals.  She had quit taking meth just three days prior.  Their family had reached a breaking point and the mother felt something had to be done.  The daughter could not hold a job and was unable to care for her child, who was cared for by the mother; and the mother feared that if the daughter did not recover soon, she would become a "new mom" again and would raise the son to adulthood by necessity.

The daughter did the Purification rundown and some additional counselling to assist her with her drug addiction, during the course of which her body and face once again took on an appearance more appropriate to her age - 26.

Since that time, the daughter has gotten married and has re-united with her son, and is stably employed in a career which she enjoys.  I talk with the mother periodically, and she explains that while neither she or her daughter describe themselves as Scientologists, they tell everyone they know about Scientology and how it saved her daughter's life.  The daughter now has the opportunity to live a new life while remembering the results of her earlier decisions.

The Stranger is a horrid little book.  Mr. Camus used it as a vehicle to express the philosophy of "absurdism," which demands that humanity cannot find meaning in an apparently meaningless universe; and further, that one must recognize that this conflict is impossible to resolve - which amounts to the worst sort of apathy.

Mr. Camus and other materialists who hold similar views can keep their universe in which human kindness, dignity and courage don't mean a thing when pitted against an uncaring cosmos.  In the meantime, I'll keep working with people - those of any faith or decency - who think that it is worthwhile to relieve the pain of drug addiction or to re-unite a mother with her son.

Popular Posts