The Outsider by Albert Camus reminded me that I’m afraid of dying.
You might laugh at that because if you asked 100 random people, most would say they’re afraid of dying.
And yet I feel that society as a whole forgets this. Mainly because of the way we choose to live – as if it will be forever – and the way we react to people around us dying – with shock and often indignation, as if there’s some guarantee that any of us will be around tomorrow.
Books that reveal these kind of thoughts are so precious to me, they’re like a conversation with a wise friend who gently introduces me to deeper parts of myself.
The story is about a man who is condemned because he’s unwilling to play the game laid out by the world around him
“Lying is not only saying what isn’t true. It is also, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels.”
Albert Camus reminds us that by saying more than what we truly feel we are eroding at the trust inherent in all relationships.
In this way the character Meursalt reminds me of characters from Ayn Rand novels or Aldous Huxley, those rare individuals who are unapologetically themselves, despite the persecution it brings them.
I found the final chapters during the trial and prison especially intense. Peeling back the curtain of words and thoughts, twisted to manipulate the crowd, is uncomfortable to witness. Reminding me how easy it is to form an opinion on things I don’t truly know or unserstand.
Although it may seem trivial, the largest lesson I received from this story is that I often speak when words are no longer necessary, and rather than bringing me closer to people, it dilutes the strength of our relationships or the message I wish to convey.
A wonderful story I highly recommend if you like books that make you think about the thin veneer of niceties that society functions upon, what is normal anyway, and how will you face death when it visits?
If you would like to read it, you can access The Outsider here.