I want certainty. I want to know, like Meursault in his prison cell, that my reality is certain precisely because it is my own. I don’t want someone else to tell me what faith is, I want to experience it myself. I want certainty, but what I’m often left with is cynicism.
If I want to discover truth– and we all want to discover truth– we must focus on the things that bring us Life. What makes me feel alive?
Writing. Touch…. feeling the warmth of another human being. Laughing deep, gutteral laughs. Heart thumping music. Any story about redemption. Nature. Focusing on my kids. The man playing an insanely beautiful version of Silent Night on his trumpet outside Walmart… I started choking up as I wheeled my cart past the oranges. “Keep it together, Liz,” I had to tell myself. But I did a pretty awful job at keeping it together. Maybe it was my realization (in the form of a feeling rather than words), that all the Beauty my soul needed could be found in those simple, solitary notes, while I was still going to try to stuff myself full of trivialities like shrimp, cocktail sauce, and bacon-wrapped weenies. None of those things are bad in and of themselves. (I love shrimp and bacon weenies…) But I don’t need those things. My soul doesn’t need those things. The things I need are quite simple. So. Simple. And for a moment, my hands still on the grimy shopping cart, standing amidst the stale and stagnant super-store air, my lungs got a breath of something certain, a Truth that will not change with time. I felt Life.
On our quest for Truth, we must cling to the things that bring Life. But how can we recognize Truth? How do we notice Life? Especially because pretty much all of the things that matter– things like Wisdom and Beauty and Love, are not as much communicated as they are experienced. And perhaps that’s just it. A long time ago, I realized I must pay attention to the things that make my eyes water with joy. Because those things are the eternal things, the things that “moth and rust cannot destroy.” And no one can tell you when your eyes should get watery. They just do. And– at least for me– those joyful tears satisfy a soul that is continually starving for certainty.
PS: Right now my husband is clipping his toenails on the couch listening to “Serial.” And I wrote this blog post. If you want to find beauty, and certainty or truth, anywhere, you’ve got to find it here. It’s not for the elite. It’s in front of you, in this grimy world. Stop looking and see it.
PPS: Listening to Serial on noise-canceling headphones is apparently loud enough to drown out the sound of your own flatulence. Somebody get me some of that fresh air I was talking about.