I’m a few hours away from my birthday and for whatever reason, birthdays in the last few years have been catalysts for exploration. There’s the obvious—where am I now? Where was I a year ago? Where do I want to be in a year?
I’ve also gone deep into birthday rabbit holes that have, at times, tested the elasticity of my brain. Anybody who was around back in 2016 (my 40th) might remember some fairly intense conversations where the wheels were spinning pretty hard and smoke covered everything. I got really hung up on the idea of limitless time and space. I obsessed about how small this human manifestation is in the grand scheme of the universe.
When I was younger and I read Camus I took some measure of comfort in the existentialist idea that we live, then we die, and that’s it. Out of our control. What happens, happens. Que sera, sera.
Twenty five years have passed since then and I’ve traveled a bit and I’ve met people from all walks of life and I’ve had ups and down and I’ve been alive and present to the world around me. I’ve seen tragedy in slow motion and triumph in all its glory and I am unable to reconcile the depth, intensity, and scope of these experiences as embers in a one off fire.
My faith is a cobbled together life raft that takes on water from time to time, but it helps me float across the sea of life. It’s an amalgamation of philosophies, theologies, and the science. It’s an inabsolute framework for me to approach life. It’s where Jesus meets Bill Hicks meets punk rock, and where I acknowledge everything being said has been said throughout time by prophets, both religious and secular alike.
I believe we are all connected. I believe that we exist forever. I believe the machinery of the universe is too complex for twenty first century human science.
When I turn down the noise, I can hear things more clearly. And the truth that comes through to me is that our purpose is love, is compassion for those around us. Those closest to us and strangers alike.
If you’ll forgive me a cheesy metaphor, I’d like to offer this one:
Love and Compassion are the oars of the life raft. Without them we’re left to the wind and the tide. With them and with our own strength and determination, we are able to navigate the vastness of the sea.
Some days it is easy to get where we’re going. Other days we have to fight like hell to get there.
I find myself repeating certain phrases so often, especially in moments of crisis, that I worry I’ve come to rely on platitudes to get me through. But then some lightning bolt from the universe hits me and I know no matter how tired I am of hearing the things that come out of my mouth, they are what keeps me afloat.
With that in mind, here’s this.
We are not doomed. And yes, we get up and go again. And no, it’s not right that we have to stare each other between the eyes—shocked and bewildered by the worst of the world—but here we are and so we must.
I love you so much and hope that you find the same love in your heart for yourself and those around you.
Forever (and that’s a mighty long time).