Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Inexplicable Life

I am certain of the unknowable, the inexplicable, the indescribable, the ineffable. It is not a “belief” or a faith, although I have that as well. It is an ongoing life experience.

My life as I choose to remember it has shown me that there are more things in heaven and earth than make a whole hell of a lot of sense sometimes, Horatio. I can no more explain or define these things than I could determine the nature of the universe beyond the farthest star or before the Big Bang. It makes them no less true. Some examples:

  • I have seen a UFO. Fairly close up. There were others with me when it became clear we were not alone.
  • I have witnessed an object (in point of fact, a hair brush) move in a violent fashion across a room of its own accord. Again, I was not alone at the time.
  • I have lost a personal possession (my wedding band) only to have it reappear weeks later in a place that it could not have gotten to on its own (folded inside a hand towel that had been recently washed, dried, folded and put away by my wife or one of my kids; the ring fell out when I reached into the pantry and unfolded a towel).
  • I have seen an apparition. (Don’t ask. I won’t tell you more. Suffice to say it was there for just a moment, and it troubled me.)
  • I have experienced extended minutes of déjà vu, once in which I recited to myself an overheard conversation in time with the people having it. Long enough periods that I began to wonder if this really was a glitch in the Matrix.
  • I have had dreams that came true. Meaningless things that became important only in my realization of the impossibility of the experience. The first time this happened, I was watching Room 222 (Google it; it was a 1970s TV series) with my uncle, and he handed me a basketball to use to prop up the pillow I was lying on. I was 6 years old. I had told my mother the day before about this “stupid” dream I’d had of watching TV with Joe and him handing me a basketball to use for a pillow.
This sort of thing happens to me pretty often. That does not reduce the surprise, fear or excitement that results.

The thing is that none of this jibes with what we understand about the physical world. And yet, I would have to ask that you accept what I have written above as truth. (Or, not. If you don’t believe me, then save yourself some time and go on to the next entry.)

So when I tell you I am a spiritual man, I hope even my atheist friends will try to understand. When I tell you I was raised a Southern Baptist, I hope you keep an open mind. When I tell you I was “saved” at 13 (which is the Protestant experience of accepting Jesus as your Savior) I hope you don’t snicker. These were — and remain — very serious portions of the person I am today.

(Frankly, and this is not an apology, but Jesus and I get along better than the Church and I do. Always have. I think Jesus has a sense of humor, and he appreciates someone who is certain of the unknowable. And the absurd. Poetry and horror. Desire and failure. Love and redemption. Nonetheless, like Thomas, I have struggled to reconcile faith and proof.)

In light of all this, when I tell you I am a logical man, I hope you don’t begin to guffaw. Like Pedro, I believe in science. Carl Sagan is a guiding light. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut (and still would if not for my irrational fear of heights and flying), and I still prefer good science in my sci-fi. I have been known to chuckle at folks who tell me the world is only 5,000 years old, or that God made the planet in seven days, or “I guess you also believe we came from monkeys.” (You can’t discuss evolution with someone who thinks like that.)

I don’t accept that my faith requires me to embrace poetry and myth as fact; if that seems paradoxical to you, then I’m okay with that. A scientist is fascinated by what he doesn’t yet understand; he accepts his ignorance as evidence that something requires further study, works up theories to explain the mystery, searches for proofs. I tend to view my faith much the same, as an effort being made to understand the mysteries of the universe, theories offered, proofs searched for.

My life as I choose to remember it has more questions than answers. More mystery than certainty. More theories than proofs. But of this I’m sure: We don’t know what this existence is all about. We can’t know. It’s bigger than our brains, greater than this breath we draw, and will outlast these words we share by astronomical units of time.

The best we can do is love one another, which I'm convinced despite the propaganda is what Jesus was all about. Love the universe that gave us each other. Accept the unknowable while never ceasing to seek greater understanding.

And keep watching the skies. We are not alone.

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I wrote the above for a collection of essays a couple of my friends are putting together with the title "My Life as I Choose to Remember It," which may see publication some day. It is (c) 2010 by Tony Simmons.
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