Without absurdity, where would we be? If Thomas Edison hadn’t thought of turning something as natural as light into something technological, we would all be sitting in the dark. If Robin Hans hadn’t thought of inventing chairs, you would all be sitting cross legged on the floor. And if the concept of speech hadn’t progressed, well, we wouldn’t be here. All of these inventions must have seemed completely ridiculous at the time, but look what a positive impact they have made. Most great ideas stem from something seemingly absurd and it is a huge risk for people to transform those ideas into something real. In my opinion, the only way to achieve true success and happiness is by constantly risking absurdity. You have to continuously take chances on ideas that may seem completely illogical at the time. Absurdity is all about risking possible failure, however if no one took chances such as these, we would all still be unable to communicate, sitting cross legged in the dark.
You cannot achieve something revolutionary and ground-breaking by playing it safe. Yes, you may get far in life by sticking to the rules and avoiding risks, but you won’t make a difference. Anne Brontë, one of the greatest feminist writers of all time, was thought of as an idiot in the early twentieth century. Her ideas were very advanced and ahead of her time, and her peers did not understand her. They could not comprehend the notion that there may be more to the world of women than serving your husband day and night. Her most famous novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, stood as a testament to the critique of the woman’s role in society. Many women loved this novel and its forward thinking and at times, bold ventures into feminist ideas, but many condemned it. The majority of men saw her novel as an absurd and ridiculous attempt at trying to equate women to men. However, her absurd risk proved successful, as she is still remembered to this day as a great literary feminist, and all of her work is still relevant to present day society.
It is all good and fine to say “take risks and it will all turn out for the better”, but how easy is it? Everyone has fears, and many of these fears are about the unknown. Taking risks is all about hoping for the best about the unknown future. When I was in grade 9, I was very bored in Johannesburg, and I just wanted a change of scenery. I wanted to take a risk about the unknown future. I was eager to go to boarding school, but my mother casually suggested an exchange program as an alternative. Two months later, I was on a British Airways flight, forty thousand feet above the sir, looking down at the Eiffel Tower. I had decided to do a six month exchange program in France for my grade 10 year. As I was looking down at the Eiffel Tower, it suddenly hit me what I was about to do. Six months away from my family, friends, and everything I had ever known. I was about to live for half a year with an unknown family, speaking a language I had never learned. I almost burst into tears right there and then as the stewardess asked me “beef or chicken”. It had all been decided so fast and I was scared I hadn’t really thought it through. But once I met my host family and went to school, I was completely settled down. The six months went faster then anything I have ever experienced, and before I knew it, I was back at home. I learned a lot form the experience and have never for one moment regretted the decision. I took a huge risk by going, and was terrified initially, but it was a very valuable trip for me, and exactly what I needed at the time.
When you look back on your life when you are old and nearing the end, what do you want to see? Is true happiness not the feeling of fulfilment at the closing stages of your life, when in retrospect, you see all the risks, the mistakes, the absurd things you have done, and smile about them? I could not think of anything worse than looking back on your path, and realising that everything went perfectly, as planned, that you made no mistakes on the way, that you played it safe. Lee Minh, the Chinese philosopher once said, “Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.” If you play it safe your whole life, perhaps you will arrive at the grave perfectly in tact, having achieved the plan, but I would prefer to arrive at the grave, screeching to a halt, exclaiming “Phew, what a ride!” If living absurdly is what it takes to lead the most exciting and bold life possible, I am willing to risk absurdity everyday, to the extreme.