I had thought of killing myself multiple times in the past six months, so after my lease ended at “The Compound,” a block of shitty condos in Santa Fe, I moved home. I never would have gone through with suicide – I was too afraid, for one; for two, it would have ruined my mom; but the most important reason, and the one I understand least, is that it would have deeply disappointed my friend Chloe.
The frequency of the thought is a symptom of something wrong – that something being my beliefs, I think. Like anyone who experiences the crisis of modernity on a personal level, I have come face to face with the meaninglessness of my existence. Christianity slipped out of the realm of literal truth and reason turned on itself.
I was once piloting a spaceship. A glass pane separated me from the black emptiness of space, as if it were the windshield of a big, complicated car floating through the cosmos. Stars weren’t visible, or planets, or earth, or the sun. It was all black. With only a windshield between the black and I, the glass started cracking. It cracked slowly — slow enough that I had time to think about my death. First, fear paralyzed me – that cliché fear that whispers, “You haven’t done enough in life.” I looked to my left, and sitting next to me were two old men. They were at peace. They were able, I suppose, to say, ‘I have done enough.’ I calmed myself and decided that, though immature, I would face death with the knowledge that I had tried to become good and had tried to love. Dramatically, “The End” by the Doors began playing over the speaker system. The glass continued cracking, and in those few seconds before the divide collapsed, I found something that resembles peace – if peace is possible without hope.
That was two years ago. About a month ago, I fell in love with a woman’s body. I want to be Alyosha, I love like Dmitri, and I live for the same reasons Ivan does – the sticky green leaves. I’m a realist. But as Alyosha is a realist who believes in God, I’m a realist who used to believe, and wishes I still did, but can’t. When I did believe, I also believed that God worked in the world – that miracles happened. What I thought were miracles then, now seem to be unexplainable phenomena – the cause is a mystery.
Belief in God results in a better-lived life, and allows for the possibility of loving another human being. One must believe in God, or some similar principle of goodness, in order to love people. Anyone who disagrees with me has never believed in God and has no experience of truly loving another person. I’m not referring to eros. Anyone who can’t understand why this is the case should stop reading now because this is not for you. Not to say that these ramblings are esoteric – they’re the furthest thing from esoteric – but still, if you can’t understand why belief in a principle of goodness is necessary in order to care about another human being more than yourself, than you should spend some more time growing the fuck up before you waste your time reading my ramblings.
And so, along with the loss of God and the loss of meaning in my life, I have also lost the ability to love. The only way I can approximate the love that I used to feel for others is to suspend my nihilistic reasoning and imagine that the individual matters. But this imaginary world soon breaks down, and I’m left with the reality that nature treats individuals as disposable, that there is probably no principle of goodness, truth, and beauty, and that I have no idea how to live my life. If you have experienced this loss, then you understand the current crisis of humanity. If you have not experienced this loss, then you either currently believe, or have never believed. If you believe, keep believing, because it might be true, and because you’re one of the few who are actually helping to preserve humanity. If you have never believed, can’t sympathize with belief, and have never even used your imagination to attempt belief, then you are an isolated thing, hindering the species and every other life form from flourishing. You’re like a selfish child sucking the breast dry while mother dies of starvation. When anyone points out your selfishness and the vaudeville-like act that is your life, you lash out, grow resentful, and seek to destroy the bearer of truth. The only thing driving you is the biological impulse to survive as an individual. You’re a parasite. If this description fits you, reader, then why the fuck are you still reading?
You may be wondering why I don’t simply choose to believe, if belief really is better than my current crisis. A good question. Forcing belief would be a contradiction, and it would make me a hypocrite, which is arguably the worst life one can live. There’s a difference between doubt and loss of faith. I have experienced the latter, but every believer experiences the former. The truth will set you free, unless you don’t believe it is the truth. Belief will set you free, if it’s belief in something that gives life meaning. I simply cannot believe in a principle of truth, goodness, or beauty. I cannot force belief. Reason won’t allow it. Faith cannot be chosen.
Listen, I don’t have a solution. I’m an artist, and artists need principles. Look at modern art. All I have is the hope that I can connect with someone. I guess that’s why I’m writing – because I feel isolated and want to connect with people again. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that this crisis is real. I know that meaning has been lost. I don’t want my life to become a performance just so people will look at me. I want to be recognized through love. So here I am, in my hometown, sitting by a slow moving river, watching trout swim through the clear water, and writing. Writing because I don’t know what else to do. Living for the green sticky leaves.
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