“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
On days when I’m pretty sure we’re all doomed and that human beings are too busy being right about things they don’t really understand to find space for wonder, on days when bits of “news” seep through my news-free fortress and infest my optimism, on days when I feel every ache and pain in a body that’s mostly holding up pretty well and I am more focused on the parts that don’t work instead of the parts that do—on those days I look for reassurance that it’s not over until it’s over, that doom and gloom are mind-made even when they’re man-made and I can choose what I want to bring into my heart—on those days I am happy for books and lines from books that speak to me in a language meant for looking past the “truth,” which I don’t believe in because how could there be one truth?—and the understanding that people are not ever really “finished,” as in “this is how I turned out.” We are not a pudding or a painting or a loaf of fresh-baked bread. We do not “become” a this or a that; rather, we pass through, like visitors, observing and adjusting, trying this on and giving that up, always moving and changing—if not growing.
At lunch today, Cousin and I talked about our love of end-of-the-world movies and what draws us to watch them, enjoy them, think about them. What makes them so attractive? I see that I get to recognize what a dim view I take about human beings in general. I like the idea that all human life could be (will be) obliterated one day, and I don’t like to think about there being any survivors of such a thing because I don’t have faith that human beings can restart life without war and greed. When has it ever been so? And where?
I like the idea that human life will disappear and that plant and animal life will be left to do what they do without destroying the earth to build monuments to their self aggrandizement. Of course, that doesn’t make for an interesting story, not nearly so much as seeing a few survivors try to live on in a hostile environment that is hostile because of other human beings.
So I watch movies like Day After Tomorrow and I know that I would want to go with the first wave of the New Ice Age, flash-frozen with a bite of chocolate in my mouth, a good book on my lap, and my honey snuggled next to me.
Or on a really good day, I have hope that more and more of us will take the opportunity to see beyond “truth” and wonder about our ability to give birth to a self that doesn’t need conflict in order to feel alive. What if we could all imagine—and trust—that there is an unimaginable way to live and just because we can’t imagine it doesn’t mean we can’t create it. I think that’s what faith really is—a belief in something beyond what our brains tell us is true. We are so much more than our brains. Our only hope is in recognizing that.