Every time a man (or I myself) gives way to vanity, every time he thinks and lives in order to show off, this is a betrayal. Every time, it has always been the great misfortune of wanting to show off which has lessened me in the presence of the truth. We do not need to reveal ourselves to others, but only to those we love. For then we are no longer revealing ourselves in order to seem but in order to give. There is much more strength in a man who reveals himself only when it is necessary. I have suffered from being alone, but because I have been able to keep my secret I have overcome the suffering of loneliness. To go right to the end implies knowing how to keep one’s secret. And, today, there is no greater joy than to live alone and unknown. My deepest joy is to write. To accept the world and to accept pleasure—but only when I am stripped bare of everything. I should not be worthy to love the bare and empty beaches if I could not remain naked in the presence of myself. For the first time I can understand the meaning of the word happiness without any ambiguity. It is a little different from what men normally mean when they say: “I am happy.”

–Albert Camus, notebooks, 1937

(With the additional thought that in the Christian and many other religious ethics, “those we love” equals–ideally and in attempted practice–everyone. So that what matters is not really to whom we reveal ourselves, but how and why.)

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