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Invincible Summer

“Calidum Frigus”- At the West End Gallery



O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.

–Albert Camus, Return to Tipasa



Camus wrote the much quoted line above after revisiting the Roman ruins at Tipasa in Algeria in the aftermath¬†of World War II. He had visited that site a number of times and finally recognized that unlike the modern Europe still reeling from the effects of war and fascism, there was a freshness there in those seaside ruins, an elemental dimension in them that couldn’t be smothered by time or modern events.

A sense of newness and the joy that comes with it was part of that place, was something that couldn’t be eroded by time and the elements.¬†

He was able to equate that with the part of our nature that we all carry, that being our will to go on, our will to find joy and meaning.

An invincible summer contained within us all.

Here’s an expanded version of the excerpt from Camus’ essay:

I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. I had always known that the ruins of Tipasa were younger than our new constructions or our bomb damage. There the world began over again every day in an ever new light. O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.

In these crazy times, it’s especially easy to fall prey to the somber melancholy of winter, to forget that you carry your own invincible summer within you when the sky is slate gray and the cold winds blow.

But it remains there in this winter and in other dark times of our lives. Our invincible summer.

So, hold on to that and have a good day.

 

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