Dear lord, my unbelief is as vast as the ocean, reflecting your apparent unconcern with the cravings of humankind, our pathetic need for affection, our fear of death. But I want to believe in your beneficence and compassion, still an ignorant and awestruck child despite my fifty-six years, expecting to find a rich and kindly uncle living somewhere along life’s rocky road who will welcome me in. I'll sit at his table, laden with bounty, break his bread and drink from his cup. He'll smile and nod as I tell him about my travels, my work, my setbacks and my occasional small victories. He will see that I’m not an ant or a mouse, that I’m a man, possessing a measure of freedom and dignity. I'll be ravenous and his food will taste delicious. He'll smile and nod as I gorge myself, just like the old blind hermit in Frankenstein smiled and nodded. He won't know that I'm a monster. He will think that I'm a friend. He has no idea what will set me off on a rampage, the innocent bastard.
I know my long-lost rich and kindly uncle is unreal, an effin piece of pure fiction. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to believe in him, or even that a certain tiny piece of me -- whatever ‘me’ is -- isn’t given over to such belief all my waking hours.
Therefore I’m compelled to begin, “Dear lord...” I have been writing this blog, call it what you will, a journal, an itch, a run for daylight in a noirish world, pretty regularly for a year-and-a-half, but it's getting harder and harder. Not because I've run out of things to write about, or feel blocked, or have immersed myself so thoroughly in the new job that I don't have time to write. No. What’s killing me is this stupid anger festering inside me that makes me want to turn every entry into a rant. I’m chafing to rail out at the idiocies and atrocities I see around me, and, even more powerfully, those I feel within me. Therapy is a waste, pills don’t work. Anger shuts down the senses, it’s hard to write anything when you see red.
What can a man reveal of himself? That he goes about his business, gets up in the morning, eats, shits, washes, dresses, prepares to meet the world again, worries about money and health, fears for friends and relatives, feels guilty about work undone, words unsaid, opportunities missed, the daily turning inward while his neighbors are crying for help. That those he loves he hurts or ignores. That he craves attention, just like a little boy. That he resents those who are more handsome, or wealthier, or smarter, those that have achieved renown and worldly success. Fearing failure, he takes refuge in the beatitudes, thinking, “If I can’t make it here, I’ll make it there,” even when he has ceased believing in an afterlife or Christ’s divinity, for that matter. Those are nice words, that’s all. The meek, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers. He has known a few such sainted ones, but finds himself unable to share in their miserable lot, the so-called holy fools, rejected by everyone else, alone, those voices in the wilderness. These days the wilderness is man-made. The ass thinks he knows too much, but he doesn’t know anything, so he takes perverse pride in his own ignorance: stubborn, ornery, judgmental. A curmudgeon before his time finally aging into his role. He has become his mask. What a revelation.
I stand at the window. This morning I feel a prickle in my gut and imagine the ferryman’s chill hand tap my shoulder. One friend gets hit by a car, another has a clogged artery cleared. One old lady is slipping into dementia, another is dying of cancer. Neighbors abandon their unpaid-for house, letting the bank have it. There is no room for anger here, or regret. The pine trees bend one way in a northwesterly wind, another when the wind comes up from the southeast. A harbinger of rain in a summer of drought. People arrive, people depart, all with their measure of freedom and dignity. I look around me and think to myself, “Dear lord, let the world stay the same until I too am forced to leave it.”