Thursday, October 16, 2014
Going With the Floe
Warning: life is habit-forming. Side-effects include: drowsiness, nausea, anger, anxiety, complacency, boredom, headache, indignation, crankiness, all the ills to which the flesh is heir, up to and including certain death. But I still wake up in the morning glad to be here another day. Yes, I'll choke a bit on my saliva and cough and drool here and there. Yes, I'll thrash and maybe shake for good measure. Perhaps I'll fall and break my arm again. I suspect that it's only a matter of time.
What can you do in a messed-up world except mess up? We hop from one shrinking ice floe to the next, reeling, slipping, stumbling, pumping adrenalin, panting for breath that we never completely catch. Meanwhile, the hounds have our scent. We fall to fitful sleep with them baying in the middle distance, and awake to hear them unmistakeably closer. So we must be away again, making it up as we go along.
The young, healthy and strong may fool themselves about the terms we agree to each day. But if you've been tagged with a diagnosis like Parkinson's Disease, that is not an option. In a defective universe, we're extra-botched, super-screwed, bungled-plus. But still. Please sir, can I have some more?
The old cliche says there is nothing certain in this world but death and taxes. Well, I'm here to tell you that this is not just a cliche, it's also wrong. In fact, there are numerous other certainties that I will stand behind. I guarantee the sun will rise tomorrow in all its fiery magnificence. The light from this merely middle-sized star will shower down on us from millions of miles away, yet still so bright we can't look directly at it. This glow will flood the world, making broken glass shine like a polished diamond, and picking out every golden leaf on every tree. At night the stars, many of which are actually entire distant galaxies, will continue to send their brilliance across the light years, beyond our reach, but not beyond our imaginations.
Under our medium-sized star, we will continue our dogged battle against entropy. Yes, haters gonna' hate. But builders gonna' build, dancers gonna' dance, painters gonna' paint and healers gonna' heal. I guarantee that the arc of the human drama, with its predictable failures, unexpected triumphs, its giddy slapstick, and moments of transcendence, will play again tomorrow to standing-room-only crowds right here on the third stone from the Sun.
We don't want to miss that. Each of us has a major role in this drama. There are no bit parts, we're all the hero of our own story. You can surrender to the senselessness, or you can build a campfire, pool your vulnerability with your companions, and hold the demons at bay for awhile with your shared strength. In the flicker of this tiny fire, this borrowed sun, you will find meaning enough among your comrades to make the trouble worth the going. Absolutely guaranteed.
That's a Hell of a promise. What makes me so confident? Because we're simply built that way. We are pattern finders, and meaning makers. We can't help it. Where there is no meaning, we create and impose it. And what other choice do we have? (Hint: none.)
So, while I'm at it, let me offer one more guarantee. If I'm wrong, and the Sun does not rise, the stars fail to shine, if the whole thing were to be called off, hounds, breathlessness, Parkinson's and all, I guarantee most of us would be disappointed. We are happy, even lucky to be here because we get to hear the next chapter. It may be "a tale told by an idiot", but we still have to know what happens next.