Middle Aged Guy:
Ideas here are seldom proposed for the sake of convenience, and the hammer certainly cannot come down conclusively with such plump, vigorous subjects like ensoulment or death no matter how expertly we dissect. These are rather heady, elusive and subjective matter, better left to those esoteric few who claim to own the turf. So for the rest of us deliberating outside the courtroom, taking on the question of Camus – this time head on, in the context of today’s rising rate of suicide – is an opportunity to encourage dialogue and understanding.
Ensoulment, as I mentioned earlier, and you mirrored, is very much a mystery. Cameras inside a mother’s uterus at six months show eyes blinking, thumbs being sucked, and twins touching each other’s faces, holding each other’s hands. This tell me that these yet unborn are thinking and feeling human beings. As a mother who gave birth to four babies, each of whom cried immediately when born, I know what I felt: a huge wave of empathy after giving birth, holding this wailing little thing, holding him close with congratulations and welcome and joy because he had made the journey, had struggled hard to get here, and victory was his. All that crying did him good, too; he needed to expand his lungs, get the fluid out and begin to breathe. Whether or not he is crying with the sheer joy of making it here, or wailing because he’s mad as hell and hated coming out through such a tight, distressing chamber - “God help me, where am I going?” - is anyone’s guess.
Because here you are, kid: life is going to shuffle the cards and deal you days of such crap you wonder why, why, why, even get out of bed. Because the bills aren’t going to be paid. Your favorite aunt is dying of cancer and your Dad was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The taxes are overdue and you forgot to call your divorce attorney back yesterday and the refrigerator is leaking water. The dog barfed on the rug again. Your favorite pair of pants tore and someone who you thought was a really good friend turned out to care less about you. Oh. And you have to close your business and look for a new job. Is this what our days are designed to be like? Hell, yes. Sometimes they’re just a goddamn mess and there’s no better place to be than under the covers.
So some other day you get out of bed. Again. Get the slippers on and make the coffee. Look at the funny email a new friend sent. Skip the world news today and say a quick prayer for Syria and Crimea. Check your account balance. Count the days til the mortgage is due. Listen to the birds sing and stare a minute too long at that surprising aberration of mud brown underneath the maple. Purple crocus. Stunning. Then go upstairs and shower, scrub your head hard as you ponder the day, decide to get a newspaper and re-read the job listings at the diner. Consider asking your wonderful sister for another hand-out. Decide to make a pot of chili for dinner and let it simmer on the stove for a few hours. Smell that cumin and peppers and those spicy, hot jalapenos. (Who needs scented candles?) Play chase with that cute, bad dog and take her for a walk. Scrub the shower and do the laundry. Sit on the couch with the tv off and read a good book. Put a piece of Italian chocolate into your cheek.
Maybe it would feel incredibly cool, moist and quiet getting dirty, fat and round, growing under the blue sky in some potato field in Idaho. I’m not convinced that aspiring to anything of the like would be preposterous. For now, I just try to live my days with the headaches and stress, sleepless, dejected and tired, knowing there are things in this world – people, especially – that will make some of these days good.
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