Once again you are wrong, sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light…You cannot measure darkness. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.

I’m sure most of you have come across the email forward that goes about how a young boy gives it nicely to his atheist professor. Sometimes the boy is Einstein, sometimes APJ Abdul Kalam. In either case, the fact remains that neither actually participated in this dialogue – in fact, no one really knows if such a dialogue ever took place at all, other than in the author’s head.

(In case you haven’t read the story, here‘s your link to the ever-reliable Snopes’ analysis, and eventual shredding to bits, of the urban legend. The quote above is only a part of the whole – I’ve used only the bits relevant to this post.)

However, the great thing about that the story above – I’m assuming that you’ve read the whole of it – isn’t that it proves the existence of God in a logical manner. What it does, is…

The way I see it, it proves that we will always have a need to look up to a certain being of power, and since there’ll always be naysayers, will always feel the need to justify His, or Her, as per your beliefs, existence. The world may have a fair share of its battles between Good and Evil, but a greater battle will always run in our hearts, and we’re the worse for it, in our minds – between Faith and Doubt.

We have had, the most of us, this experience in life when, apparently out of nothing, springs a mirage. You’re looking at things, living them, and quite content with the nature of proceedings. Until, in no time at all, everything goes KABOOM! And you realise that it was all a mirage. Nothing concrete. Nothing stable. Just vapour. I guess, in short, very frequently, we have our Matrix moments. Unfortunately, there’s no kind Morpheus giving us a choice between the red pill and the blue pill. There’s no choice, just one smack, rude awakening. And when all has collapsed, when the very semblance of life that we’d been leading for so long has dissolved into nothingness, what remains?

A void. A blank space filled completely. With nothingness.

Each one of us shattered, collapsed, and saw in front of their eyes the end of life as we knew it. It feels, in hindsight, almost unjust for us to have been revived and given another chance – only to suffer a similar fate again. Like sailors to Australia in the previous century, we rise, we seek the skies, we see hopes of life and freedom. There are currents we trample, there are storms we defeat. There are entire lifetimes that we spend on the seas, hunting for that mystical moment, when, out of his mind with joy, a hand would cry “Land, ahoy!” How many travellers, seeking a new life, did the sea inhale? How many dreams were put to rest in that most silent of graves, in that most painful of deaths?

How many did, everntually, see land?

Again, and like with most important things in life, the numerical answers are the most irrelevant ones. Life was, is, and almost always will be a struggle – against the world, but mostly, against our own selves. There will always be the despair of Doubt, which will pull us back from life, based on the wisdom of experience. There will always be Hope, telling us that tomorrow still awaits you with open arms. There will be darkness, and we will board that ships that shall do nothing more than give up on us above the deepest of the ocean’s trenches, and leave us to pant and struggle, until we will eventually sink. But then, it will be upto us to stop crying hoarse about the darkness, and as Vivekananda said, get hold of a match and bring light. It will be up to us to be Ulysses, and fight infinitely against an angry Poseidon in his own realm, and spend ten long years in the mad seas.

But when we do fight, when we do spur, we are possessed by an idea. We sail not because we must the high seas, we do because, whether or not known to us, Penelope awaits us. Because, whether or not known to us, Ithaca, our home awaits us.

Journeys don’t end because of the absence of destinations. Journeys end because of the absence of spirit.


– Constantine P. Cavafy


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,

pray that the road is long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge.

The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,

the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:

You will never find such as these on your path,

if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine

emotion touches your spirit and your body.

The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,

the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,

if you do not carry them within your soul,

if your soul does not set them up before you.


Pray that the road is long.

That the summer mornings are many, when,

with such pleasure, with such joy

you will enter ports seen for the first time;

stop at Phoenician markets,

and purchase fine merchandise,

mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

and sensual perfumes of all kinds,

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

visit many Egyptian cities,

to learn and learn from scholars.


Always keep Ithaca in your mind.

To arrive there is your ultimate goal.

But do not hurry the voyage at all.

It is better to let it last for many years;

and to anchor at the island when you are old,

rich with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.

Without her you would have never set out on the road.

She has nothing more to give you.


And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.

Wise as you have become, with so much experience,

you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.


2 thoughts on “Absence

  1. “Again, and like with most important things in life, the numerical answers are the most irrelevant ones. Life was, is, and almost always will be a struggle – against the world, but mostly, against our own selves.” ONE WORD: PROFOUND


  2. What I don’t like about such stories is it makes the whole issue look like a competition. Instead of an honest investigation into the matter, we get two opposing parties trying to win. I hate that. For me, I believe the aim of argument should be to elucidate Truth, arguing to win is just a sad state of affairs. Perhaps, such things result not from an inherent inclination to win but due to the arrogance of the opponent.

    That particular argument above hinges on the problem of ‘the man’ or ‘man’ as evinced by:

    “You cannot measure darkness”


    “Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present”

    Both of them are the ways of man. If the ‘God is the absence of evil’ argument also hinges on the ‘darkness-measurement’ point then it is also just a way of man and as such discredited just like the ‘darkness-light’ point.

    It is always man who cannot measure darkness because he can measure only light. Likewise, it is always man who cannot measure evil because he can measure (in this case: knows) only God or ‘Good’. We shouldn’t even be here because refuting the first point of darkness-measure upon which the entire argument is based kills the entire argument too. It is just a follow-up from the new premises set up by the counter-argument I present.

    “Journeys don’t end because of the absence of destinations. Journeys end because of the absence of spirit”

    I like that. Very much, I do


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