If you add the word, “mercilessly” to some banal sentences, it can add a bit to some boring conversations. For example, “Would you mind mercilessly walking the dog?” Or, “Walgreen’s is mercilessly out of ‘Peeps’.” Of course, why you would want a, “Peep” is a whole ‘nother thing.
A dear friend of mine recently shared some baby pictures with me. They weren’t of her baby, but of the infant daughter of a mutual acquaintance. When I saw the pictures of new life I was emotionally and intellectually compelled to thoughtfully consider the creation of new life. After a few minutes, I wrote something back to my friend that summed-up how I felt, “It’s challenging to be an existential nihilist when looking at baby pictures like that, but I can report that it is possible.”
One has to be more than a little bit of an ass to say something like that, but I wasn’t trying to be mean. From my point of view, it was a lovely thing to say, given how rarely I am challenged in my nihilism. My self-loathing and attachment towards the meaningless of it all, and that it will end someday (such sweet mercy) was challenged. Albeit briefly, but sincerely. Only something magnificent could give me pause about some of the conclusions I’ve come to over the years about the meaning of existence. She was pink and ridiculously tiny and who knows where her life would end up. I’m thinking cure for cancer, Ice-9, Sandra Bullock look alike, who knows.
That said, the absurdity of the whole production was very much on my mind. Life, while devoid of any objective purpose, tenaciously makes new life. Well, there you have it, the only detectable purpose in nature is to make more life. Wet, stinking, squirming, flatulent, brilliant life.
Unfortunately, if you try to find purpose beyond that biological impulse you are left staring at the abyss. So all that new human life needs a pipe-dream, an actual dream, a practical endeavor, a place to poop, and while we’re at it, human dignity. It’s no wonder that Hollywood and religion do so well. They are selling distraction away from the constant stank. We all need a diversion. The more diversions the merrier.
There is no god, of that I’m sure. At least not a god to all of us, and certainly not a god who is helpful to us. Anyone who has tried to find a screw-driver in their apartment when one is desperately needed can attest to that. We have to invent one that can fit our unique needs. Sometimes it’s a woman, or a friend, or an ideal. Anything will do, so long as it keeps you out of your head. You have no place in your own head, stay out of there, it’s a rat’s nest. Having children is that sort of dream. Occupy your mind. Perhaps being a parent provides the endlessly appealing illusion that part of us will never, ever die. The good parts, anyway, not the part that holds the back of a potato chip bag up in the air so you can get every last crumb. The savory parts will travel on, beyond time and space. And with a little bit of luck cross paths with Patrick Stewart.
We all celebrate that illusion every day (especially that Patrick Stewart part), in much of what we do. We dream. But parents really embrace the biological imperitive to procreate as their way to distract themselves. To avoid facing what we are all trying to avoid facing, and that is the knowledge that, in the end, we’re destined for the unknown.
It’s hard to worry about how clean your toilet bowl is when you have that on your mind. But you can’t let it get too dirty. Come on, it’s a toilet bowl. What’s the matter with you?