Monday, July 7, 2008
I can no longer believe, as I did when I was little, that I have some great destiny I am called to, or some ultimate purpose that will help save mankind or at least make things a little nicer for everyone. I can't believe that political or social change will inevitably be for the better, or that we are one moment away from the End of History, culminating in a perfected civil state which I can help spur into being by voting for the right candidates or protesting for the right causes. I can't even believe that if I'm just a little thinner, a little kinder and little more accomplished that I'll eventually meet a Nice Man who will love me and participate with me in the best of all possible projects: making a family and letting it loose into the future to keep the love and gratitude going, if only for a little while longer. My innocent faith in such comfortable futures has been shattered--not violently or all at once, but the way a pebble kicked up in that moment when you weren't looking might leave a small ding in the windshield that, very very slowly, spiderwebs thin cracks across the glass until you just can't see out of it at all anymore. So you have to stop the car.
One day you have complete confidence that Time will redeem everything, and the next day you find yourself sitting quietly watching a muggy July sunset while Time beads on your nose like sweat and just makes you feel a bit sticky and sluggish. With the future a given, what is left to me is the present. It is a gift, as someone once said, probably only because they could make an obnoxious pun out of it.
And I realized that I still long to improve myself, to become better, to learn more and see more. But not for the same reasons I used to--not because of some hope in the future or faith in the march of progress, manifest destiny, et cetera. Now, I sit in the present, and I know full well that I am not quite at home. I feel awkward, misplaced, discontented. "Wherever I am, I am what is missing." So I long to improve myself, to become better... not for my own sake or for the sake of the future, but so that I might truly know the present that I'm in. Somehow, I still believe--despite all the other beliefs that have eroded and worn away beneath my pacing and striving--somehow I still believe that, if only I could really see and understand the world, I could be happy in it. If only I could know this place intimately and selflessly, then I could love it. And somehow that, finally, would be enough.