Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A wild ride

I had several long, earnest conversations with my grandmother this weekend. She was so beautiful, her face rounder and fuller than I'd ever seen it before. She explained to me that life had been good to her since we'd last seen each other. Which was at her funeral, in 1996. We met in several strange places I had never visited before; one of them was a huge, outdoor amphitheater where she arrived in a limo to receive a prestigious award, something like a Nobel prize.

I also did a lot of catching up with Mike. He told me to stop worrying about him and that going for that Baptism when he was a teenager was one of his best moves, ever. I asked after Uncle Asa, and Mike said that he still isn't taking any vacations; evidently he's got escape plans and contingency escape plans (at least plans A-F, and working on G) detailed down to the finest points for everyone he loves and in between he explores the galaxies, double checking them for enemy incoming. This work has put him in line for the award my grandma received. As for Mike, the word he gets from hq is to keep playing, so though he mostly loses, he plays every time for me. When I looked kind of skeptical about this activity, he assured me that where he is now, winning and losing are so not the point. In fact, the more he loses, the better it goes for me. I told him it's actually more or less the same with me down here. I couldn't help but ask after Wally and Mary. That made Mike a little sad. Mary's doing great, she spends every day cheering for him; Wally, though. The big guy put him to work as a fact checker, and Wally still can't get it through his head that this is a good thing, like the Best Job they give out there. Once he gets it (and Mike doesn't know how long this will take, he's not holding his breath), then he'll also probably start to notice that the water doesn't actually taste like water where they are. More like Dewar's single malt whiskey. Only better.

My grandma had some interesting things to say about my life here. She said I worry too much (this seemed to be the theme of the weekend, actually). She said life is too short for all the things that fill my head. She said to read more and argue less. She said I don't move my body enough: "Remember how you used to dance and dance?" She also told me that all those years she had spent pining for her son Billy were stupid. When she finally got reunited with him, she saw suddenly, that they'd never been parted in the first place. She said I should just enjoy Stella now, while I have her. I asked how? and why not let me hold her now, before she gets too big for that later? and Grandma just laughed like I'm a great joker (everyone knows I'm not!). So then I'd spend the rest of the visit staring over people's shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of Stella, and no matter where I was when I started into looking for my baby girl, the scene would change and someone would have stolen my clothes, and I'd be hiding along the side of the highway, or behind some unknown dark house, or on a stage somewhere wondering what to do next. Kind of distracting. And not at all funny, by the way.

It's probably a good thing that the fever's come down to a measly 102 degrees.


clairity said...

Wow! I hope you're better, though this journey was probably worth the trouble. Love, Sharon

Suzanne said...

Yes! I've heard of having one's life flash before one's eyes, but never other people's afterlives!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."