Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I’m in a very odd mood tonight. And though I may regret it later, I feel like working some things out here, just now. And so I will. Though, as I said, I suspect I may very well and easily come to regret it later.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, and life in general lately. I’ve been thinking about my place in the world, and the place of human beings in general. I’ve been thinking about faith and metaphysics and science. I’ve been wondering why it is that I obsess over these things when there’s no objective reason that I should concern myself with any of it at all.

Lately I’ve been feeling sorry over who I am. God knows it’s not about having low self-esteem, or being immune to arrogance. But I’m angry with the things in myself that I don’t seem to be able to control. I’m undisciplined and I know that. And I know I have to work harder. But knowing is different than doing, and so I sit, drunk on the excess of my own sickness. It’s as if I lust after every bit of my own failure as a human being. I know I can do so much more and be so much better. But instead, I wallow in despair over my own stupidity and cowardice, and in my pride over being stupid and a coward. It seems that I’m so entirely disordered. As if I was born wrong, and I matured wrongly, and now all I have left is error and uncertainty.

I have developed these odd metaphysical beliefs about human beings. They crept into my consciousness entirely without my knowledge. And though I know they’re as unscientific as my preference for strawberry ice cream, I can’t shake them off and pretend that they’re unimportant. It’s odd, though, that so many of these ideas are the ideas I’ve spit at for years. It’s as if I’ve spent all my time kicking at the waves in the ocean and now I’ve tired and given in and they’ve overtaken me.

I know I’m being cryptic. It’s a defense mechanism.

What I mean is that, all my life I’ve walked around loving people in a vague way. I had this passing notion that people were worth something and that life meant something. As I grew, I discounted notions of God as fantasy. I descended into relativism and existentialism. But I was unhappy because I knew that those philosophies were incompatible with what I really held as true. If people were worth something, really worth something, then worth could not be relative. The worth of life could not only be restricted to the meaning I gave it if I felt that, objectively, life mattered whether I cared about life or not. Murderers did not have the right to murder because they felt their victim’s lives meant nothing. No one has the right to decide that anyone is worthless. But why? Because I have believed, instinctively, always, that the worth of life was governed by something separate and objective from individual people, or societal whims. And that means that there is something of a higher order than human beings in the universe.

But that notion goes against my training. Human beings are animals. They exist to reproduce. Just as a chicken is just an egg’s method of reproducing another egg, people exist to further their species and that’s all. All else is peripheral. Human beings are not special in any other sense than that they’re bipedal with a large brain with a capacity for nuanced speech and the like. They do not have inherent worth, or inherent dignity, because worth and dignity are ridiculous and meaningless terms. What is worth really, except the embodiment of a generalized affection? Placing worth and dignity on a thing is the equivalent of simply saying that you like that thing, whatever it is. To suggest that human beings have dignity and worth carries all of the moral thrust of the statment that you believe strawberry ice cream is intrinsically superior to all others.

It is difficult to throw out all of the things that all of the people, who were supposed to be absolutely just brilliant, have ever taught you. It’s hard to join the people who believe in things unseen, and who suspect the things that seem to appear so clearly under a microscope. I am not an effusive person; I find emotionality, all of these feelings, suspicious. And yet I keep myself up late at night, drumming up tears for poor Jerusalem, trying to feel something, anything at all. And I do not prostrate myself at the feet of a microscope.

It seems that nearly everything of any importance comes to everyone else much more simply than me. I know that it’s my fault because I’m cynical and because I indulge my cynicism. I try to justify all of it by bringing up the higher quality of my method. But what’s so damn great about my method? I’m not happy. I’m alone, beating my head, because I’m utterly conflicted in my own frustration.

And yet, I feel somehow as if my only hope is in the depth of my suffering. If my life was not worth living, I could feel no displeasure over having lived it wrongly. If there were no order to life, I would feel no displeasure at feeling disordered.

In the midst of all of my lectures to myself that I need to do better and try harder and stop being such an ass, I keep reminding myself of who I am and who human beings are. When I say that I believe that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God, I must not exclude myself from the reckoning. When I speak of God’s love for his people, I have to force myself to stop feeling embarrassed over the idea that the creator of the universe could care about anything at all, much less the infinitesimal speck of life that is me. When I recount the story of Adam, of Moses, of Gideon, of Jonah, and especially of David, I must add myself to the ranks of people who were not always so very good, but who could always be called a man after God’s own heart.

I am on a mission to feel something in this life. I may be deluding myself. I know that that is generally how it seems. And I know that a younger version of myself would have called me a sell out. But I’m willing to become a holy fool, for a while yet. Because I’ve seen the other side and the grass isn’t so green there either.

I choose order over disorder; meaning over meaninglessness; love over apathy; challenge over contentment; faith over doubt; hope over hopelessness; innocence over cynicism; humility over hubris; brotherhood over isolation; and life over death.