“When you talk to God about suicide
when you never hear back, I hope you’re still alive.
And the part of you that never cared
you can leave it here, we’re in the sea of air.”
– Portugal. The Man, Sea of Air
I was born into a fairly religious family. We weren’t your stereotypical prim-and-proper, stick-up-the-ass, top-button-done-up church fanatics, but we were still strong in our faith. Strong enough at least that it was some time after the shit first began to hit the fan some twelve years ago before we finally broke.
We didn’t all break, mind you. And it wasn’t anything as dramatic as a mass denouncing of our faith. As T.S. Eliot once said, the world ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. Our weekly recital of the rosary dropped to a monthly schedule, then to an irregular one, before finally stopping altogether. We no longer said grace before every meal, and when we did it was often lacking sincerity. The last to go was church.
I used to pray in bed each night before sleep, reciting in my head the list I had compiled of all the things I thought I needed God’s help with. But in all those years, after all those nights looking up at the darkened ceiling and believing there was someone up there looking down on me, listening to me, by that last night as I said those all-too familiar words one final time, I realized that the list had only grown.
People tell me that I’m a living miracle; that after what I survived I should be eternally grateful. But it wasn’t a miracle, was it? Surviving a spinal cord tumor isn’t a miracle, anymore than being mugged is a miracle. Yeah, it could have been worse, but it for shit sure could have been a lot better. When a perfectly normal person tells me that I’m lucky, it makes me want to scream. Oh, I’m the lucky one, huh? Does that mean you’d be willing to trade places? Because let me tell you, I’d do it in a heartbeat. A fucking heartbeat.
Look, I know there are people out there who’d do the same; who’d give anything to have my life. Yeah, by some standards I am lucky. But that’s just it. That’s exactly my point. This is a complex world we live in, and such abstract and subjective concepts as “luck” have no real bearing on everyday life. So to try and bring them into play is pointless and aggravating, especially when it boils down to a lottery winner trying to explain to a homeless person why life is grand. And sure, I get it: most of them are just trying to make me feel better about everything that’s happened. But news flash: it’s not working.
The very notion of a god has become a sort of middle finger to my existence. And when people start shoving that middle finger down my throat, like I ought to be kissing the ass of some invisible man in the sky just because I was “lucky” enough to be among an unfortunate minority, it makes me sick.
In such a conflicted and chaotic world, there’s no way you can just reconcile tragedies left right and center with the severely flawed logic of “God works in mysterious ways”. It just doesn’t pan out. What “mysterious purpose” do you suppose the deaths of starving children all around the world serve?
I used to pray in bed each night before sleep, believing that somewhere out there, someone was listening to what I had to say, that someone cared what I thought and wanted to help me. I used to feel like there was someone watching over me, watching over us, as I stared up into the darkness and prayed for a better world.
But now I just feel alone.