Saturday, February 9, 2019

Everything Eternal

Right now I’m on the couch, listening to the wailing voice of Adam Duritz, whose songs with Counting Crows have helped me cry for 25 years.  I’m thinking about time, and love, and how little glitches in the brain keep us from living a joyous life.

Last night I sat with someone I love inside an idling car, staring at eyes, and then snow, and then eyes, and then snow.  The feeling was temporary; as temporary as the snow. It felt like eternity, but it wasn’t eternal.

I realized I don’t know how to process this life outside the lens of eternity. 

Everything used to be the long game.  The sell for the next phase of existence.  The mortal coil was the pre-game.  It made pain more bearable.  Suffering could be understood because it would end.  Eventually, all would be made right.

I still process things through the lens of eternity.  When I love, I don’t know how to view it as anything but forever.  It puts an unrealistic weight on every feeling I have.  An “I love you” is forever.  Rejection is forever.  Indifference is forever.  All things are for a single purpose, the endless melding of souls with the ultimate. 

Bazan once wrote, “the crew have killed the captain, but they still can hear his voice.” 

I no longer have a captain, or a boat, or a crew.  But the voice of eternity is still haunting my feelings every day.  I don’t know what it’s like to know someone I love is a temporary love.  That a hobby won’t last forever.  That friends will die.  None of it makes sense to me. 

I’m beginning to feel that I’ve lived too safe a life.  I think I’d like to little less safely.  Take more risks.  Enter conflict voluntarily.  Kiss someone I know I’ll never see again. 

I have to learn to live a temporary life.  The weight of eternity is souring the best things I have without my permission.  I need to hold the people I love with a weaker grip.  Learn to detach from places and people and things a little more, to give them the freedom to come and go without it meaning so much to me.  With attachment comes suffering, and I am tired of suffering. 
Following the time in the car, I returned home, picked up a guitar, and sang songs to a small group of people who had taken mushrooms, were sitting near the fire and watching the snow fall. For a moment, I knew how to live in the temporary.  Here's to more moments like that in the near future.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Other Side of the Door

I attended Quaker meeting by myself today.  The past 18 months I’ve attended maybe 3 times, never alone.  I’ve been feeling the pull to come back recently.  Not sure why.

The meeting has an interim pastor I hadn’t heard speak before.  I liked her style.  Scattered thoughts, loosely connected, but full of interesting questions.  Today, she asked us to imagine that outside the church door was a surprise, just for us.  It’s the thing you’d be willing to climb over pews, and shove people out of the way for.  And when we think of that surprise, what comes to mind?

I had various things come to mind as what kind of surprise would prompt me to scale the pews and run.  Most prominently was a mind that contained joy and peace, but was not susceptible to anxiety or fear.  I would climb mountains to reach those heights.  I considered a life of no responsibilities, where my days were spent in conversation with people I love, or was curious about.  I’ve always wanted to retire early so I could pursue that kind of life.

It took about 20 minutes before I realized the thought that hadn’t crossed my mind; An existing God.

When the absence of that idea dawned on me, I’m pretty sure I froze for several minutes.  And then I hid my face with my hands, and sobbed for several minutes in the back of a church, by myself, hoping nobody would notice.

I’ve been fighting the good fight with atheism for a long time now.  The pursuit for something outside the natural world has been a good friend to me.  It sent me on long, wonderful journeys.  It introduced me to new people and ideas, and provided several of my best friends. 

But I’ve been aware for over a year that I needed to let that question go.  Searching for God had stopped making my life better.  I once wrote a poem about sitting on top of a flight of stairs, always hoping God would show up and open the door (link here).  I used to imagine I’d be on those stairs forever. 

Today, I realized I’m not there anymore.  The question, and the need for the question, have left me. 

In my tears today, I held that question, the question that had tormented me for so long.  I gave it the respect it deserved, thanking it for keeping me company on some painful and dark days. 

And by myself in the back of a church, I let it go.