Today I drove by a plastic sign stuck into the ground by the side of the highway off-ramp informing me that Judgment Day is coming on May 21, 2011. The end times, apparently, are upon us.
It would be easy to believe. To hear the airwaves tell it, the days are dark. People are struggling. Talking heads predict fiery collapse at any moment. It is easy to point to evidence. In the last few years, I, and many family members, have experienced the kinds of crises that force you to look life square in its spitting, frothing face and see what’s there. Physical illness, mental illness, destruction, deformity, natural disaster, plain old garden variety despair. Unemployment, the deep and profound and random unfairness of life, not to mention not-nice people and gridlocked traffic, can quickly take the shine off life.
And yet. When you look the unfairness of life right in the middle of its fat face, when a moment of reckoning is before you, when you are forced by circumstance to decide whether you will, literally and/or metaphorically, get busy living over get busy dying, to quote the Shawshank Redemtion…there is something that makes you return to that “and yet”.
Somewhere, somehow, you are not ready to give up on the strange beauty of life, moments funny and serene, an image of the moon framed in a window that you remember for no good reason, the force at once both within you and beyond you that makes you gasp for air coming up from underwater, hunger for food and sex, fear a drawn gun.
The will to live. The life force and the force of life – force, like strength, as in, you have no choice.
Like the Desiderata poem they print on things they sell at the Hallmark store: with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
There are things that make life worth living, and there are ways to live a worthy life, and I’m just speaking for myself here, I want to discover them and do them and see what they are.
Update: Per the below comment, I have revised the mis-remembered date on the sign. And also, Ed. Note: Wow.