Saturday, April 14, 2007

Goodness endures.

I am gobbling up books these days, losing myself in them, trying to drown out reality with them.

In two days, I've finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Just put it down. Just exhaled as I finished. And now I am here, trying to make sense of the world in which I just exited.

What a beautiful book.

These are the things that kept plaguing me as I read, went with father and son on their journey.

The world they inhabit is desolate, stripped of humanity, awash in fire and chaos and carnage. People eat their own young. People kill each other to eat each other. Civilization is gone. How can they keep going, these two? To what end? For what? What is there to keep going for? When they reach the coast, then what? What are they looking for? The old world is gone, and now they are surviving for the sake of surviving. Life has lost meaning. The meaning attributed to it as we as humans have given, burned, taken away for good. There is no hope for them. Their journey is about survival, but there is nothing to survive. So why keep going? As I read, I just kept thinking, how does this end? This must end in death, because there is nothing else. No matter how long this journey goes, it will inevitably end in death. There is no salvation here. Why do I keep reading? Why do I want to read knowing there can only be death? And why do they keep moving knowing there is only death?

Thoughts of a conversation about life I once had with M over chickpeas and mediocre chicken cacciatore flicker in my mind. We are all in a freefall, he said. Life has no meaning, we said. But we make meaning out of it. Isn't that what makes us lucky?

Through all the bleakness of the world, there is the father, doing what it takes to survive, for him, for his son most of all. Sometimes wishing for death so that it can end. But never giving up. And then the boy. He touches me so. He is the beacon of light, of hope, for humanity. That within the wreckage and annihlation of all that is good and worthy of civilization, he still finds it within him to be good. To be compassionate. To cry for little boys and thiefs and old men on the street. To give what he doesn't have. To shed tears over a broken conscience that is all but imagined and useless in a world where survival is the only thing that matters. The hope that good has a place in the world, in a world where laws no longer pass judgment and gods no longer exist to provide redemption. That good belongs and is and should be, even in the wild. The boy gives me hope, feeds me hope. His father, who does everything to shield the boy, protect him, carry him on to whatever may come next - he is guarding something precious. The good in the boy. This hope for humanity. He is fighting tooth and claw to deliver this, to save this, for the next generation of man. Should there be one. Because this is what needs to survive. Not our technology or our knowledge. But our good. The good. This is what the fire is. This is what the flame is. This is what is worth saving, worth dying for, worth protecting. Good needs to survive, and vulnerable as it is, it is worth everything to the man. The man and his son.

I cried. Tears. When the father was dying and talking to his son. When I thought the son was going to die. When it seemed like it might all end. And the hope at the end. That there are still good guys. Still children. Boys and girls. Maybe from the ashes of this, good can survive, however tenaciously, and become stronger.

What a wonderful book. So simple, so moving. Horrifying descriptions captured with a sense of such despondency. As if they, too, were part of the landscape of the world. No different from describing a tree fallen, or a cloud passing. I am touched beyond everything I could possibly imagine. From such simple words. From such a simple tale.

And I have hope. Hope that good endures. Hope that in this free-fall of meaninglessness, there is still purpose. Hope that what I live for is not in vain, that this journey will move forward. That every step I take, even if it is part of a slow death, is one in which I live and leave behind footprints that are beautiful.

0 drops:

Post a Comment