Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Echo Chamber

Yesterday was alive with wind and rain, and it made me feel small. It's a feeling I've come to love. The front door and back door were both open, as were all the windows. The sun came out briefly, and it made me sad in a way that I can't describe. Then dark clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. It was magnificent.

Annie and I went out into the rain. She was eager to walk in the grass, even though she's not fond of getting wet. A blast of wind signaled the changing mood of the weather. Tree branches whipped around violently, creating a steady shhhhhh sound. It went uninterrupted by thunder. My neighbor, Lynn, called out to me and we spoke for a minute or two before the steady, heavy rain started. We didn't say a word about the weather.

We talked about a friend of mine who has cancer. The cancer makes me feel small, too. All the agonizing, and existential angst, the thoughts of suicide and self-injury, seem absurd and laughable in a world where people die and are killed according to the music of chance. It makes my life less valuable. My substance tainted with an affliction beyond my understanding or control.

That's why I wilt in the sun. Why I used to sit in the back of the classroom. Why my temper gets short when people look at me. Stare at me. It feels like an admonition. To be seen is to be considered, and with consideration comes an estimation over how I've spent my life. Judgment. Illness and the storm reduce the importance of my decisions to nothing. It is comforting beyond words. Otherwise, there is bound to be pain.

Lynn called me a "bleeding heart," and meant it kindly. In a world out of our control, where life begins and ends routinely, it is better to think of life and living as a matter of little consequence. Otherwise, the fear of effect can be debilitating. All that matters is kindness. Compassion. It won't matter to the storm or the illness, but it will make them easier to bear. All other considerations feel superfluous to me. The most expensive education can be rendered meaningless by a stroke, instantly. A healthy body can be reduced to rotten meat in...two days?

The lack of judgment and consideration in an empty universe is usually seen as a cause for cruelty and brutality. But I find it liberating. It cripples vanity by reducing self-esteem to an illusion. Are you righteous? Are you proud? Can't the same be true of the worst and most misguided among us? Is a "terrorist" any less a martyr than a "saint" who is killed for a cause that you happen to believe is noble and honorable? They may see the world differently, but are bound by physical, emotional and/or spiritual pain.

And the smaller we get, or the larger the world gets, the more muted the screams of our brothers and sisters become. They become more immediately disturbing, but are robbed of a deafening echo that will never, ever let you endure the storm in peace.

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