At the top we found ourselves in a cloud and we could not see the valley.

June 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

We focus so much on our differences. God or Allah or no god or who knows. This book or that book. This hat or that hat. This history or that history. But we forget about something fundamental that we all agree on: everything will end. We disagree on how it will come about, when it will come about, and what might happen afterwards – but I don’t know anyone who thinks that humanity as it currently exists on earth will continue in perpetuity. The world will end, and that’s something we can all get behind. In fact, isn’t it something we all secretly hope for? Hasn’t everyone who has ever died died a little disappointed because they didn’t see how it all ended? Don’t the Christians want to live to see Jesus return? Don’t the atheists secretly want to see the earth boil and the seas rise and the cities flood? I know I do.

To die in the throes of the end of the world would be to have lived a perfect life. If you were to live to see the end, it would be as if it were inevitable. It would confirm your long sense of solipsism, the sense that you are the only one that is real, that everything is just a story that has played out before you for your benefit, that no one has ever really lived or died except for you, and here is the climax of it all and now you can rest peacefully knowing that this strange dream has a definitive end. The most terrifying thing about death is not that we cease to be but that not everything ceases to be. If you could know that nothing would survive your own death, there would be nothing to fear, no unanswered questions, no sense of loss. Nothingness doesn’t give me anxiety, but somethingness without me does. Aren’t these the same? They are and they are not. Is that a paradox? It is and it is not.

One summer night some years ago I found myself in Indiana around a fire drinking whiskey with people that I love so much. Soon we were all naked and covered in paint and pressing our bodies against canvases. There was so much joy in that art. And I think back on that night and realize that it was the zenith of my hopefulness. It has been uphill since then, and it will be uphill from here with an ever increasing grade. And the summit we are climbing toward is not the sort with a majestic view, I am afraid. Yes, I am afraid.


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