An Absurdist and a counterfeit Birkenstock

I woke up this morning and in a haze of semi-dream and semi-consciousness, my mind was doing an accounting of the biggest worries in my life. On the top of the list is my broken pair of counterfeit Birkenstocks, purchased at a Turkish bazar in Antalya for about $7. I loved them! I even purchased a pair of socks with a separate big toe just so I could wear-in the Birks and make the pleather softer. Yesterday on the way out of Winn-Dixie on Big Pine Key, FL, as I was picking up my left foot, Erik (my wonderful Partner) stepped on the back of my shoe and the clasp broke. I felt sad, mostly because he was not paying attention and my favorite cheapo Birks were broken. I was angry because Erik blamed this on me; he was walking behind me and I, allegedly, stepped to the left and “made” him run into me. Absurd! – but this little incident has stuck with me for hours. Editor’s note: Erik actually did say that he was sorry but I was not ready to accept the apology.

The second thing on my mind was a dream in which my friends and former colleagues were asking what will I do for work? Frankly, I wonder why I am not yet released from the concept that I shall work for money. If I am financially secure then why it is so important for me to work? Why should we work and not like our jobs but perform them never the less and only dream of extended vacations? Somehow the concept of working for money still rings in my mind as the correct way to live. My brother related a comedian’s act to me about aliens observing our Earth and noticing a bunch of unhappy people. To make themselves happy these people exchange little pieces of green (or colorful) paper, but these constant exchanges make them even more unhappy. Absurd!

The next items on my worry list are house chores. I always had house chores and somehow they never had such an impact on my psyche. Maybe because I had bigger worries related to work-stress and family stress. My current list includes: installing a 24v power source on my Nest thermostat to provide C-wire connection, fixing a little pipe on a simple irrigation system, hanging 3 pictures on the walls and buying a green plastic cover for a water meter. Absurd! Simple house chores are now my worries! Apparently, I feel good about everything else in life and my list of worries is a totally superficial bunch. I am indeed blessed, lucky, fortunate or all of the above.

Now I turn my mind to art. In the past, I was very much into impressionists mostly because of the color pallet and esthetical value, less so because of the narrative and contemporary social commentary. Today, I turn to surrealists and specifically an absurdist Michael Cheval ( At first what attracted me to his art is what I call an Alice in Wonderland theme with its imaginary. As I learned more about him, I realized that his Russian origins strike me with familiar folk images of flowers and fairy tales, concepts ingrained in his and my subconsciousness. This is what we grew up with, this is our common culture and folklore. One looks at his work and as the eyes focus and defocus more and more images pop up and each one of them has its own expression and its own set of imbedded concerns. I am sure that the faces in the drawings so full of expression are not worried about a broken counterfeit Birkenstock or a C-wire connector. Surrealists look at life trying to unleash the unconscious and revolutionize human experience by putting it into a decorative art. Absurdists look at the world from the logical and invert it into the illogical and that makes me go hmm? I am learning that absurdism also comes in a literary form of playwriters and novelists and the father of the absurd is Albert Camus but here I am only scratching the surface, I need to read up more on this genre.

“The Absurd can be defined as a metaphysical tension or opposition that results from the presence of human consciousness – with its ever-pressing demand for order and meaning in life – in an essentially meaningless and indifferent universe.”

Happiness is a self-delusion as measured against general delusions; Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I do wish to acknowledge other writers who could see the world from the point of an absurd:

The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslaw Hasek

All books by Kurt Vonnegut, of course the favorite is Slaughterhouse Five

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