This is ridiculous, but I can't get this shit out of my head and I feel like writing it down will make some of it not only go away, but maybe make some of it tangible enough for someone other than me to comprehend. I honestly can't comprehend a lot of this myself, but these are 3 am thoughts that I feel like I have all the time and I can't even understand half of it myself. I don't get it, and it's pissing me off because the more I try to explain it in my head the more profound and elusive everything becomes because I feel like the language I use is reasonable, but no one else will understand. This is just something for me to jot everything down, but of course, I'm going to look over all of this and proofread because even when I'm rambling I can never leave something that describes even the smallest part of myself at a point where I believe it to be imperfect. I'll try to keep this as true of a narrative as possible regardless.
I don't know where to begin. Whenever I think about myself and my story I always feel the need to start with my parents, because they created the Fundamentalist environment that I grew up in as a rebellious child and later a (slightly) rebellious teenager, but the world they grew up in is so different from mine and I don't think I'll find the answer with them. These are MY questions, and I'll have to dig for the answers myself even though I'll probably never find them and THATS where I want to begin, in a sense. There are questions that can't be answered and there always will be and I don't understand for the life of me how people can willingly believe that there's one simple answer to all of their existential questions or crises or whatever. And yeah, I'm talking about God, because that seems to be what my life revolves around regardless of how I view religion and I don't even have a simple answer as to why I keep coming back to it. People find meaning and comfort in the words of the Bible, just a book, and some devote their whole lives to preaching it and understanding it even though my pastor says you may live your whole life not understanding God's plan for you at all until it's too late. And what kind of fucking life is that, questioning yourself until the day you die?
Maybe this is bias, but I cannot handle the idea of stagnancy, of SETTLING for a life that's unfulfilling and fucking worthless in the end. I don't understand where the irritation comes from, but I used to imagine myself as a writer, living the most comfortable life and still doing what I loved, but doing what I loved meant sitting for hours at a time trying to write down shit that would sell. Now, I can't even imagine myself doing something like that. Maybe it's because I don't think I'm skilled enough to create shit out of thin air that'll become some YA bestseller, or because I don't think any kind of story I could tell regardless of genre would mean anything to anyone. And that's "quitter talk" or whatever, I know, but in my limited experience I have only met one person who ever thought the same things I did about the world, and who still does. Only one person can listen to me ramble about purpose and nod, and agree, and provide deeper insight than I ever will on why the earth spins or whatever the hell we want to discuss, and even then Jesse has his own ideas. Sure, maybe it's dumb to think so, but because only one person listens to me now makes me think that only a handful will listen to me later, when I'm not a kid everyone dismisses for not understanding the world even though the accusers don't even understand it either. Now, after going through what I have, and even though I haven't battled cancer, everything's affected me just like it, and I can't see myself sitting in some cushy office in my cookie-cutter house pulling shit out of my ass to feed the millions of mouths hungry for another escape from the monotonous world they live in. And that's respectable, to a degree, because for years my life revolved around those worlds that I could escape in. The problem was that they WERENT real. But now that I know what IS real, I have this inconsolable urge to fucking do something about it.
My name, Samantha, is Hebrew, the feminine form of Samuel, meaning "messenger of God," or "told by God." And let me tell you, the entire time I wanted to be an author, for a good seven years or so, I thought that shit was divine providence. I thought that my namesake meant that I was meant to tell stories one day, even if they didn't come from God at all. But that's the trick, because what if you believe that the stories still originate from God regardless? Because we're His? I don't know. The point I'm trying to make is that for the longest time I wanted to be an author and was so comfortable with that fact, and now I'm never going to be anything other than a doctor. I won't let myself be anything less because for fucks sake if I ever had a calling, it's for that. Ever since I went out of the country, a small little thirteen year old moron who thought she was the hot shit and who knew fucking all and everything in between, I feel like I've opened my eyes beyond my shit vision. People fucking need help. And if you're thinking this is going to trail off into some liberal ass propaganda or some "capitalism is the true devil" shit, get out of my face. The world is so much more than the limited face of American politics and no one realizes that, but that's a word-vomit for another time. But people need help, and there's something burning inside me to at least do something with my life to help and HERES the kicker for me. Here's the bias. I have been given every opportunity, from a good home life to the possibility of tutors to parents who care about my well-being and academic life, and you bet your ass I'm going to use every bit of everything I was given to do something with my life. I will not let everything my parents worked for, from being dirt poor to self made, go to waste, regardless of how I might feel about them some days. I have the ability and the intelligence (not to sound like a pretentious asshole, sorry about that) to make some kind of difference and whether that's filling out insurance garbage or sewing up someone's artery, it doesn't matter. I'll never understand how people let things like that go to waste. This is where I feel like the world is so much bigger than I am and I hate feeling selfish like that.
And this, THIS is where we breach the main concept that keeps me up at night, and it's purpose. Maybe not purpose per se but MEANING. One of the recurring questions I hear from wannabe philosophers or kids who take religion too seriously (there's a difference between being religious and being a zealot) is "why are we here?" But I don't want to hear that. It doesn't go deep enough. It scratches a surface that people for thousands of years have scratched already and there's no point in scratching it some more. The surface is ruined, blurry. Time to look somewhere else. Time to ask something that looks past a question we're not going to get an answer to. And don't get me wrong, I understand the "why are we here" is linked to purpose and that purpose is linked to meaning, but why not cut out the middle man and ask straight up "what the fuck am I DOING this for?"
I don't know why we're here and neither does anyone else. I feel like we've established that enough as a species and we're wasting our time. Everyone believes we're here for something different and there's no point in arguing about it anymore. I don't want my life to be this constant question concerning the purpose for my existence, because free will fucking exists for a reason and I'm tired of hearing all the bullshit about God giving us the capacity to think for ourselves but still acting in ways that he had planned. What the fuck does that even mean? Are we free or not? Because if we're still behaving in predicted ways, we're not fucking free and I don't CARE. I've always had this underlying problem with authority and I'm sick of people holding the promise of Heaven over my head like it fucking matters in the end. Life isn't about the endgame to me. Heaven is a reassurance that the good are rewarded and the evil get what they deserve but God's concept of justice is molded by humanity's concept of it and justice is just that, a concept shaped by changing times and changing politics. Justice is Guantanamo Bay to some and the right to a jury trial to others. Justice is legal revenge, and everyone thinks they deserve some of it. There's always someone we think needs to be taken down a notch, or hurt, and sure, telling yourself that public enemy #1 is burning in one of Dante's circles might help you sleep at night but what are you really living for then? What's the point then? Why are we living for a Heaven meant for those who can't find peace while they live? Isn't that what we should be working for? Sure, talk to me about the worthlessness of material things. Go ahead, tell me the true meaning of life is to live for God. But why the hell haven't we started living for the general concept of GOOD and not for the benefit of a religion alone? God and good might be a letter apart but there's a bible's worth of words in between them anyway. And that only means that I don't have a definition for "good" but society does, and I guess that's what I'm fighting for. The end of suffering, to a degree.
The meaning of my existence isn't a question of where I came from, but it's a question I can't answer anyway. All I know is that it can't be so simple as "god has a plan." Yeah, God has a plan. Hitler had a plan too.
I think this is why I read so much, or why I'm obsessed with literature and always will be. There are so many perspectives and so many thoughts and ideas that so many people ignore and they can be found in the classics section of a bookstore. It fucking baffles me. Everything is here but because Charles Dickens writes too many words, or because kids read Homer's "Odyssey" in freshman year and don't want to touch it again, there are so many people who don't pick this shit up. People who don't listen. And honestly, Dickens and Homer might not be great examples, they're just classics and that doesn't allude to a deeper meaning or some kind of elusive profundity automatically, but the one thing I've learned from finishing the book "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien is that the story truth and the real truth are two different things and sometimes the story truth, as O'Brien puts it, is the one that carries more meaning. For a book revolving around Vietnam, I've never read something so profound since I picked up something by Robert Penn Warren. To differentiate, the real truth is what actually happens to you. It's the simple war story, told plain, just like it happened. And there's truth to that, there can be meaning for those who find it, but then you start telling the story to wide-eyed Americans sitting at a local cafe thinking poorly of the draft dodgers, or the adults who turn the TV channel when the newscaster starts talking politics, or the people who commit one of the ultimate follies and glamorize the entire idea of war, and they don't get it. They may nod, they may see something, but there's a point they're missing that they'll always miss because they weren't there and you were. That's the con of the real truth, and that's why you have to add things. The story truth is different, it's the story you add to until the moral becomes clear to those with wide eyes, but the act of adding to the original is what hides the real moral. It's a twisted game, but it's easy to ignore the nuances if you don't recognize there are nuances at all. If you're proud of your little boy for submitting to the draft and take pride in knowing he's fighting an ideology that will never really die, you don't see the nuances and you feel secure in the lack of knowledge you don't know you have. That's the gist of essentially the whole novel, and im sure I got O'Brien's terms for the truth and the half-truth messed up, but this is where the concept reminds me of Robert Penn Warren. There's this quote from his novel "All The King's Men," a story based off of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long but creates some kind of moral out of twisting the exact story into something more. It says, "The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it, would save him. ...for the end of man is to know." It's a remarkable parallel to O'Brien's storytelling.
That's kind of the point, I guess: that the ideas are reflected. But what's also the point is that maybe if I twist what I always wanted to tell as a writer, people will listen. But there's no point to me then, because then no one will really know. No one would really care if I told them my truth, what made me human, because they wouldn't understand. It wouldn't make sense to them. They wouldn't see the nuances.
But I don't want to be a doctor for the sake of trying to be understood. Back to the point of literature, to sum it up, it's where I find the definition of "meaning" that clicks with me. Granted, you can find thousands of definitions in thousands of paperbacks, but digging up the classics is where you find the conclusions that have survived to be read generations after publication, and this is where I first find Faulkner. It's the last book I'm assigned for AP Literature, the book "Light in August," and this is my first introduction to the world Faulkner has built in his fictional little town of Jefferson, Mississippi. After a year of trying to make sense of the fractured, profound thoughts of the man, I finally realize that O'Brien's idea may be found yet again, just now, as I write this. Faulkner writes his stories of characters connected by blood and happenstance as they take place in Jefferson and how they may relate to each other (but those connections are essentially nonexistent in his writing—it's the reader's job to try and create connections between novels out of thin air), and this is the story truth. It may not be truth at all, and regardless of it not being such, it SPEAKS and this is what hits home for me. Regardless of whether or not Faulkner's writing is "truth," I don't think I've ever been more impacted by an author besides Shakespeare (king of nuance and human nature that he is), because Faulkner finds what I've always thought I've found; the meaning in the deep roots of a region such as the American South, a region dismissed time and time again for past mistakes that shouldn't be forgotten but that also shouldn't be allowed to cloud the rest of the history and the habits that make it. Faulkner finds a message in the intertwining of family, of sin and of setting. Faulkner remarks on the entirety of human nature with just a story taking place in a small town that doesn't even exist. Faulkner is considered the primary writer of the south, a god among men for his prose and his stories, but Faulkner dips his pen in the ink and writes of something greater. Like religion, Faulkner remarks of the human tragedy, a death so profound that it exceeds the boundaries of a life now passed.
And honestly, I'm addicted. I know that was a nice little ode to a dead author, but this is what I mean. This is what I mean when I say I seek language to discover what all of this might mean, and even then I can't fully explain why I do. My friend Jesse always asks me "Sam, why do you even like Faulkner?" But he's a Hemingway fan and the underlying message, I think, is the same. Tragedy. But to me, what's tragic is the belief that doom is predetermined unless we subject ourselves to a very specific set of circumstances and devote our lives to prayer.
I still don't even know if this is coherent. It might've helped me organize my thoughts, but they're all jumbled together now and the rant had already spilled out. I don't know if this is all or if there's more to come, but there probably will be more, because I have to take a fucking sleeping aid just to shut my brain the fuck up. I don't know how to conclude this mess either. Maybe it concludes itself, I don't know. I think that's what gets me: not knowing. I crave answers in a world that has none, in a world where the answer is relative to the person answering the question. And sure, I like input on this kind of stuff, but like I said, people don't get it. At least, they don't get it in the way I do, and maybe the bias is back and I unfairly count them out because their thoughts don't match mine, but maybe it goes back to that problem of authority. The people I've met who think they have the answer are so confident that they do, that they don't understand how they're wrong. They think they have something when they don't. And maybe I'm an idiot and have been this whole time and just the semblance of having the smallest piece of an answer is enough for a life to have meaning, but unless that answer is doing something with my fucking life then I don't want to hear it. At least, not now, when I'm a teenager turned bitter by the face of reality forced on me in school, at home, in church. Who knows? Not me.