The better ending

One of my favorite books is “The Life of Pi.” If you haven’t read it yet and don’t want the story spoiled for you stop reading.

OK, now anyway, for all you non-quitters: Toward the end of the book we learn that Pi, an Indian child/spiritual seeker (whatever that means) of zookeeper parents, has made up this wondrous but completely unbelievable story about surviving on a small boat for 227 days with a bengal tiger after being shipwrecked at sea on the way to the Land of Milk in a Bag, ie Canada. The truth is something much harsher …

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but Pi tells his inquirers he made up the tale because it’s the better story. “And so it is with G*d,” he says.

As I’ve grown older I’ve grown apart from the faith I clung to as a young adult, for many of the same reasons everyone else does. Let’s not get into those now. Anyway, there’s always been a part of me that’s held on to some remnant of hope, of belief. There’s Jesus, of course. He’s the one person I haven’t met whom I most admire, respect and try to fashion my life after. Taken apart from the Christian faith, I can accept Jesus. I can even believe in pretty much everything he says, even as I become more secular, more of a humanist, more of an agnostic. 

But there’s something that keeps me  hanging on, like the poster of the cat who’s dangling from a rope.

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That’s me, dangling. Sometimes it’s Jesus — and particularly his teachings on love — that keeps me tied to that faith.

Other times, like today, I wonder if I don’t cling because it’s the better story, that is because it’s comforting. Let me back up.

I get a call from my realtor just after four. Can I come to the house? I have a water leak. I knew this was a possibility when I turned my water back on today. My worst fears fill my head. I approach the house and hear the sound of Niagara. Not good.

My dining room ceiling? On the floor below. My basement? Six inches of water — from the second floor bathroom. The overhead light in the dining room is hanging from a wire. Who knows how much it will cost to fix. 

I could have cursed G*d for literally bringing the roof (ceiling) down on me (the dining room floor), but for some reason I didn’t.

I searched my mind for someone to blame and couldn’t find anyone.

I thought about getting real good and drunk to forget it all, but thought better of it.

I contemplated listening to some really depressing music (that’s what I like to do when I’m down), but choose mewithoutYou’s newest.

A line comes across the speakers as I race to my house to shut the water off. It says something about forgiving everyone, everything, everywhere, all the time and I think of Jesus and I look at the beautiful green trees with their branches stretched to heaven and I think of the birds and all the animals all around me and how they’re provided for and I think, you know, I’m sure I’ll be provided for too. Of course, I live in the richest country in the history of civilization, so I’m sure that has more to do with it. But anyway, instead of feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders or like I could jump off a bridge, I feel, well, not peace, but just OK. 

I start to think about that story I told you about at the beginning. What if I only think of all this — you know, that I’ll be “OK,” whether because of G*d or America or my parents or whatever (because it’s all a form of faith really) — because it’s my mind’s way of comforting itself, sort of an evolutionary way of dealing with stress? 

I wish I had some clever way to wrap this up, but that’s what I’m left with at 10:50 p.m. on a Thursday night. I’m drained and I’m thinking about G*d and 42 and why stuff happens when it does and how the Bible is really just a story of people trying to get to know G*d and failing, most of the time, quite miserably. How it shouldn’t be taken literally, as actual instructions for our lives, but as a narrative, as part of the story. 

And I’m thinking about my story. We each have a story and I’m trying to decide where this chapter fits in and how I want it to end. The choice is mine. I could go anywhere from here. I could sink into a deep depression, wondering why this has happened to me or I could lift myself up once again and get my shit together and not just hope every thing’s “OK,” but actually work to make sure every thing’s OK. 

I think I’ll choose the better ending, even if it’s only for self-preservation.

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2 responses to “The better ending

  1. Life of Pi also proclaimed the idea that a story always has the same ending, there are different ways of telling them. Your story has a direct path it is on and this is just a bump in the road, one direction it can take. It, just like all things before, are taking you down the road of your life. You will make the right choice…you already are. I heart you.

  2. Ok, let me get this straight Justin. Jesus is one you most admire?

    Then you go say that you are almost agnostic in belief?

    How can you admire someone who in your view was either a liar, con artist or a lunatic? Because pointing to the Father for all things, as He always did, certainly can’t be someone that could be believed or admired in your view, can He?

    And how can you look at the Bible as a story book that is full of people always searching for God and never finding Him? Are you reading the Holy Bible? I must have totally different versions than you do, because the entire story from beginning of time until now, and even beyond, is loaded with stories of His existance, and those who have come to know the One true God.

    Besides, that peace you are looking for is yours to be found if you open up to the fact that searching for that peace is easily attainable when you actually look for it. But it’s not the peace in the form of what the world is looking for, but a peace that surpasses all understanding.

    It’s much deeper than many are willing to search for in this day. It’s not just an “Ok” feeling either. And it’s really not even a “feeling” at all. Which in my opinion, is why many search and fall back thinking they haven’t found, time and time again, when they lose their human good “feelings”.

    It’s a peace that lasts past a life time as we now know it to be.

    By the way, us “Christians” whom you view are being “attacked”, aren’t really worrying about the outcome of it all. We are though, the ones who typically aren’t doing all the whining and complaining, but do get tired of sitting back and getting belittled for standing up for our God. It’s not taking things personal thats the problem, but watching our God being defamed for all He is, and all He has done for each one of us, even you.

    Claiming us to be humans feeling attacked, just doesn’t sit well in our being. We aren’t Jesus, we are human, just like the next guy. People need to know it’s not us that you are to look to for truth, it’s God Himself. Until that is a realization for non believers, they’ll always be stumped.

    It has to do with that Peace, that comes by way of faith in a power mightier than ourselves. If we relied on ourselves, we would never have any peace and would probably always just “feel ok”.

    I hope you don’t mind my input since you asked for responses. And as your beginning statement read, “The truth is something much harsher …” well, sometimes…..

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