Below the seeming absurdity
Is that all there is
Is that all there is
If that's all there is, my friends
Then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is-Peggy Lee
I have often felt that there is an obvious absurdity to our existence. For me, what can make life somewhat ridiculous is that it is so very short. True, when young, time can go slow. I can remember when the two weeks Christmas vacation from school was an eternity. So much time, so much to do, yet it seemed to drag on, on some days.
One day in High School our teacher was talking about our future. She was really trying to make us think about retirement. Not an easy task when the class is made of 16-17-year-olds. So she went around the room asking the students about their future. When she came to me I simply said: “My future? I will die.” She thought I was being sarcastic, but I was not.
It was not that I did not love life, I did. I loved playing, dancing, not studying so much (just ask my teachers), it was just that I could not hold on to anything, it was all like sand.
I guess that was why even as a child I hated deep wells that seemed to have no bottom. There was a certain terror for me to think about falling in and never hitting bottom. I guess it was a symbol of death for me. It did not damper my zest for life, but kind of dampened what I wanted to do with my life.
I felt sort of trapped as a teenager. Probably a very common experience. I did not like being young. Yet so much of adult life that I saw seemed so meaningless. I think this showed that there was something missing inside of me. To this day I have not been able to pinpoint it. Just a feeling that life, much of it, was much ado about nothing at all. Yet I knew that that was not really true. It was just something in me that allowed that to be so present to me. Was all of life just sand flowing through my fingers into nothingness?
When young I had nightmares every night. Mostly lucid dreams, I knew I was dreaming. It had it all, years before I saw horror movies. They would start with me being in a dark wood, fog, clammy, and me alone. The road had small stones on it and was difficult to walk on. Then ‘they’ came. They were Zombie-like and coming for me. They would chase me, and I would run. Every night until I was ten, now I may have a nightmare once a year if that. I guess I made my quota.
Perhaps that is why I deepen my relationship with the Eternal. Being Catholic I studied my faith to see what it was all about. It kept me on the path. It made me see that the apparent nothingness of our lives and its absurdity was an illusion, there was something deeper and more lasting. So over the years when I was a child and in High School my faith kept me grounded and safe from falling into despair.
I have no doubt that if I were an atheist, I would probably be an extreme one. I still have doubts, but my relationship with Jesus keeps me on track and seems to not want to let go of me.
My peace and my joy flow from my faith. I have experienced grace and that has happened only because of the gift of trust that the Lord has given me. I had to choose to trust of course, but as soon as I did, the grace of healing over my deeply biased understanding of life has slowly changed. Yet the seeds are still there.
I try to live my faith and have learned that to argue over it is a waste of time, which only drives parties in such a ‘debate’ further apart in more extreme positions. I am actually very bad at a debate. When I am with someone who has no doubts about their stance, I tend to freeze up, and just stop. I doubt that will ever change. However, I do share my faith with those who ask, and I try to listen to the faith path of others.
Job, was a man of faith, who in his childlike trust in God was able to be himself. He opened up to the Lord his pain, anger, and frustration; but never lost faith. That is what I seek to do, to take deep root, and just get through each day.-Br.MD