Posted by: nancykenny | January 19, 2010

So You Wanted A Sign

I was having a bad day. It was one of those days where everything was going wrong: I slept through my alarm. I ripped my shirt. I gave myself a charlie-horse putting on boots. I watched my bus drive away two minutes early and the next one was five minutes late. I ran out of bus tickets (you know, since I lost my bus pass two weeks ago). My key pass wouldn’t work in the building door so I was locked out. Everyone I tried to call for help was in a meeting. I arrived late for said meeting. My computer wouldn’t work. When it finally did work, I couldn’t get access to certain programs I needed nor could I get it to print. My Rogers service suddenly cut out on my phone. I lost my favorite sweater somewhere (if I knew where it wouldn’t be lost now would it?) I got stood up (again). But what really made me go crazy, what really did me in was the fucking (I’m French, I can use that word) elevator being out of service. Since the previously mentioned key was not working, this meant I could not take the stairs or I would be locked out of the building (again). I had finally decided that I was going to give up, grab some readings and have lunch, but I couldn’t even do that. I felt trapped. I felt nauseous. I felt like the walls were closing in and I just had to get out.

It seems so stupid. I don’t have a bad life. I have a roof over my head. I have food in the fridge. I’m employed. I work with nice people. I have my health. My world was not literally shaken up by an Act of God (or you know, whomever that was). I’m not stuck in the middle of a war. I just had to spend an extra 15 minutes on the floor I worked on. That’s all. And I panicked. In a fight or flight situation, apparently I choose flight.

People think I have my shit together, but frankly, I don’t have a fucking clue.

So I ran away. I’m good at that. Years of practice. I contacted a friend for support who immediately told me to join her at the Rideau Centre for a hug. Since I am a firm believer that a great hug can solve everything, I did just that.

Getting back on the bus, I noticed that someone had forgotten a book in the seat. I felt bad. I’ve lost things before (see above, re: bus pass & sweater) and I hate when that happens. Then of course the selfish part of me thought how much I love books and hey, what’s one more? But I shoved that aside and opened the cover to see whom it might belong to. It turns out it didn’t belong to anybody. No, no, not in a “there was no name on the cover kind of way.” The book actually belongs to everybody. This book is a traveling book. It’s been logged onto a site called BookCrossing. Now, I had heard of such things before, but I had never actually encountered one.

Could this be a sign? This book is about philosophy and life and probably holds all the answers my soul has been longing for. In my darkness, could this be the beacon of light I was hoping, nay yearning for? Could it be? Could it?

The book? The Outsider (or The Stranger or L’étranger) by Camus.

Uh, yeah. Have you read this book? I now have. Let’s just say I may have been a tad too exuberant in quest for answers. My realization: if you’re feeling bummed out, Albert Camus may not be the best guy to go out for lunch with… you know, even if he were still alive. Which he isn’t. Which probably doesn’t matter to him anyway since life is pretty much meaningless. At least that’s what I got from the read.

I got a sign alright. A sign that The Universe was having a laugh.

It did get me thinking however, in existentialism and the absurdity of life and all those other things I had to look up through Wikipedia because I couldn’t remember exactly what they were from my first year philosophy and political thought classes in university. So I open up the floor (or the comment section or whatever) for a meaningful philosophical discussion.

Go nuts everybody! In the meantime, I’ll be dropping this book off at a coffee shop somewhere in the hopes that someone else gets a little more out of it than I did.


  1. I had the misfortune of being “gifted” that very book by a pseudo-philosophical would be beau. Once I read the damn thing I knew we could never date. I do think it’s endearing you’re still open to signs from the Universe, a trial for all of us sometimes. Loved your post.

    • Thanks for the comments!

  2. The universe is a strange place, what a day you had!

  3. […] BASH’d Reviews Okay, just so everyone doesn’t think it’s all doom and gloom. […]

  4. I love Camus and The Stranger (which is a better translation) He is frequently misunderstood and that book especially. The Plague is a little more accessible.

    His fundamental point: life is absurd, you can live or you can kill yourself. If you choose life, live well and stop worrying about its absurdity.

    The point relates exactly to your experience. You were “trapped” only because you choose to see it that way. Alternatively, you could have found it humorous and a great opportunity to chill out. One perspective creates a crisis, the other creates a moment of unexpected fun. It’s your choice.

    Some people spend their whole lives trying to escape from prisons that exist only because they choose to see their circumstances as a prison.

    Just like life and its absurdity.

    • What a great comment, Sterling! Yes a day later I pretty much came to that conclusion as well. The book is now off somewhere else, with someone else. I hope they find some use in it.

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