I always wanted more.
I wanted to meet alien beings. I wanted to travel back in time and see the dinosaurs. Pilot a ship at warp eleven through the asteroid belt. Read minds. Bend spoons.
Nowadays I can’t hardly stand how fuckin’ weird things really are.
I mean, seriously, WTF?
I always was a spiritual kid. Meaning I believed in spirits, but also I believed in capital “G” God and the concept of God and of myself as a spiritual being, a soul, ensconced in a physical, human body. I believed in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I wanted to be good. I remember watching the Sunday morning evangelist preachers on television when I was like four or five years old and sitting real still to see if I could feel Jesus calling me to be saved.
I was pretty sure I felt it. I could almost make out his voice, calling my name, asking me to put my sinful four-year old ways behind me.
I got baptized in the lukewarm, chest deep water behind the pulpit at the First Southern Baptist Church my grandmother went to. There was a mural behind the baptismal of green fields and a blue sky and a river coming down to the water like you were really standing in a river and not in some supersized bathtub. You took three steps down into the water on one end of the stage and the preacher grabbed the back of your head with one hand and covered your mouth with the other and dunked you down, praying loud all the while.
It felt pretty good.
I read the bible. I read science fiction. I read everything I could get my hands on. Still do, for that matter. History, geology, anthropology, philosophy, cosmology, neurology, physics- regular and quantum. Robert M. Pirsig and Thomas Pynchon and Vonnegut, Loren Eisley, Gary Zukov, Doonesbury, whatever I could find.
I thought there was a mystery to figure out.
I thought if I could figure it out, I’d get to participate in it. Like Carlos Casteneda did- he left the safe environs of the campus at UCLA and went out into the Sonoran desert and ate mescaline and datura with a crazy old holy warrior and he rolled around in the dirt with the gods. He pierced the veil.
That was what I wanted.
Hell, I still do.
But I’m feeling more and more that there really isn’t any veil to pierce. That fantastical imagination is really more like a failure of imagination- that is, to be able to see what’s real, what’s really real and all around you all the time, there for your taking, always, eternally- that’s the fucking challenge, isn’t it?
What Jesus said about his father’s kingdom is all around us. Within us and surrounding us. It isn’t someplace else. Nor something else.
It is merely this place, here and now.
If I have a soul that lives on after my body dies, there has to be a reason for it. A real reason, one that justifies all this over the top creation of billions of galaxies worth of stars and planets, and billions of years worth of time, and billions of lives created and destroyed, the long, slow, impossibly vast march of time and space toward this very moment, toward the creation of me. Which does imply a god, which does imply a moral code, which then brings up the sticky question of the suffering of the innocents.
I mean, I get it that we’re supposed to suffer under this idea of a moral universe, a fatherly God. We fall short, we sin, we suffer and are punished for it.
But all those murdered children, hacked to death by machetes or drowned or starved to death or locked in a closet, raped, etc.
I mean, you’re just left with this bullshit about God works in mysterious ways.
But if I’m just what you see, a guy on the earth who got born and will die, and that’s pretty much it, then it kind of all makes sense. There’s no need for an eternal soul for me, or for anybody else, because we are a symptom of complexity- we arise spontaneously when the conditions are sufficient. Just like our brains developed consciousness spontaneously when they grew sufficiently complex.
How a simple set of rules, a simple program, run infinitely many times over a vast amount of time can result in ever-increasing complexity that in turn generates emergent properties that were unforeseeable if all you ever looked at were the handful of simple rules and conditions that kicked off the whole shebang.
So, there isn’t any point to the thing, except the point of doing it- throwing off energy and complexity and patterns and pattern making and repetition and experimentation and galaxies and planets and life forms vast and limitless and ever changing.
I am a flowering of an energy pattern, a dance of atoms, that has arisen and will crest and fall and dissipate and that’s me.
That’s what I get.
I get to participate.
Namaste, you sons a bitches!