Dear Unaware Saba,
Today was not an extraordinary day. And neither was yesterday. It hurts to admit it to you, but not every moment is out of a John Hughes movie or a mystery novel. Life oscillates between shades of gray and technicolor rainbow and trying to make sense of the inconsistency of time is like trying to tame a raging waterfall.
I hate to break it to you, young Saba, but life is not just kissing-in-the-rain scenes and epic game-winning goals; it’s a lot of waiting in the doctor’s office and resisting the urge to slam your foot on the accelerator when you’re at a complete standstill in LA traffic.
Sometimes life is just ordinary, and the only reason why a moment is significant is because we believe it is.
It’s the first day of winter. You are five years old and coloring at a desk. There was the scratching of crayons and the quiet bumping of elbows, simple connections you were unaware of making. In that fragile cocoon of innocence, you were ignorant of the need to draw inside the lines.
Then, as you and the other students at the table toiled away on your disposable and forgettable art projects, one of your peers asked out loud if you all believed in God. Your teacher’s pencil clattered to the floor.
Sometimes I get so overwhelmed. Not with school or extracurriculars or personal matters, but with the knowledge that everything, including high school, ends.There’s not much of 2018 left. Isn’t it crazy that I’ll never get this year back? Or this week? Or this day? It doesn’t matter how many seconds ago it is; the past is the past, and it’s speeding off into the distance, away from us.
The children said yes. And you thought that sounded right. Wasn’t there something out there, watching you all the time? You did not catch your teacher’s eyes boring into your heads, trying to telepathically change the conversation.
For a columnist, I have a lot of opinions but absolutely no idea what to believe. I can’t listen to everything loved ones tell me, and I can’t blindly follow a stranger’s advice. I grew up without a religion, without fixed practices. I’ve never felt the cool silver of a cross around my neck or lighted a menorah or read aloud the words within the Koran. I have no idea if I’m an atheist or agnostic or cynical or hopeful.
“If God exists then where is He?” a child asked. He makes a good point you thought, considering your former stance.
“God is in all of us,” a classmate replied confidently. “He’s always with us, watching us.” Okay, that’s a little creepy, you thought.
The other students voiced their opinions. God was real, God was fake. God was one of many gods, God was black, God was a woman. God didn’t interfere in our lives, God directed every action. He was benevolent, He was cruel. You finally spoke up. “I don’t think it matters. I think we should keep coloring.”
We can go on with our daily lives and avoid philosophical debates, but I like to think there’s a sort of awareness in the universe, even if that belief is selfish or naive or utterly human. So yes, Saba, there are some constants to this world: winter is coming, time is slipping away and people will always argue about religion.
But this holiday season, open yourself up to the inconsistency of life, its extraordinary moments and its ordinary ones. Just believe; in whatever or whoever you want. Just have faith because there will be a time in your life when you can’t afford to ponder about God or life or death.
Put down the crayon. Look up and see all the color that already exists in life and let it wash over you, as powerful as any river or cascade.
A More Connected Saba