“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.”
— Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
profluent, adjective: Flowing smoothly or abundantly forth.
In comparison to the incomprehensible age of the universe, the age of our own solar system, or even the microscopically brief length of time that we have even been “human,” this is an insignificant fraction of an insignificant fraction. To me, that ineffable smallness is a beautiful thought—that I mean absolutely nothing in the near infinity of time and space, and yet am here all the same, with my own small thoughts, emotions and experiences, and the power to decide upon and create my own meaning.
“I suddenly felt very deeply that I was alive: Alive with my own particular thoughts, with my own particular story, in this itty-bitty splash of time. And in that splash of time, I get to think about things and do stuff and wonder about the world and love people, and drink my coffee if I want to. And then that’s it.”
— Julia Sweeney, Letting Go of God
This is something that never made sense before I came out as an atheist, and something that doesn’t make sense to my friends now who are theists. And I think that’s rather sad. I could be wrong, of course, about the notion that this is all there is; that there is no deity outside of the universe measuring the threads of our lives; that nothing awaits us after we die. There could be a god, but the probability of that being true is astronomically small, or at least insignificant as a fact.
A few days ago my friend Emily turned 30. In my experience, after 25 age doesn’t start to matter again until around 40, but reaching 30 is still a cultural milestone. While I was making coffee this morning, and taking the dishes out of the dishwasher and putting them away as I waited for the grounds to steep, I considered the idea that there is nothing we can do to stop time, the process of aging, or the inevitability of death. Someday, probably sooner than I’d like to think since time itself is a fiction that we create to make sense of our waking moments, I am going to die. Life is uncertain, but of that I can be certain as an organic being.
This past weekend we threw Emily one hell of a party as only twentysomethings with too much education and access to alcohol can. Since we aren’t teenagers it wasn’t a wild party by any definition. However, I did end up getting very drunk since the only thing I’d had to eat the entire day was a scone from Starbucks and two pieces of chocolate cake. The result was that I blacked out for part of the evening, although I do recall playing a Bach prelude from memory and then breaking down in tears because I’d just played a Bach prelude from memory and no one at that party fully appreciated that fact; the fact that I love Bach, the fact that I write music, write stories (or this blog), or all of the sundry incongruous elements that make up Me.
And there’s no one special person right now who appreciates that. That’s mainly what upset me this weekend. And I was up until about three in the morning talking in my bed with the only other gay guy at the party (who I wasn’t even sure would like me since 1) he’s a Christian and a pastor; 2) I’m an outspoken atheist and a loud one, and he knew that) about some of those things—including Seth, with whom we’ve both had unfortunate experiences.
In the little over a year since I came out as an atheist, the desire to deeply and intimately share the experience of being alive with another human being has grown a lot. In the past my youngest sister has expressed a total lack of sympathy or understanding when I’d talk about wanting to find a guy. (This is the sister who, incidentally, is currently substituting a dog for a meaningful relationship with a guy because she “can’t find anybody good enough,” which is not-so-subtle code for “fear of intimacy,” the congenital malady of my family.)
For me, the desire to be with someone comes out of the knowledge that this is the only go-round that we get on this planet, and I want to spend that time with someone who, out of all the other guys in this world, wants to spend it with me (and vice versa); who finds my quirkiness enchanting, and my insanity endearing (even if, at times, infuriating); and who desires as much as I do to deepen his understanding of humanity and of existence by exploring life with another person.
“I speak of none other than the computer that is to come after me,” intoned Deep Thought, his voice regaining its accustomed declamatory tones. “. . . A computer which can calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer, a computer of such infinite and subtle complexity that organic life itself shall form part of its operational matrix. And you yourselves shall take on new forms and go down into the computer to navigate its ten-million-year program!”
— Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 28
When you believe that “there are other worlds than this . . . that this world, that seems so real, is no more than a shadow of the life to come” (William Nicholson, Shadowlands), it doesn’t matter whether or not if you find someone in the Here and Now. To my youngest sister, all that matters is knowing Jesus.
I want to focus on making this life the best one possible—which includes waking up with the guy I’m in love with (and vice versa).