There were times in my collegiate years when I would lean back on the hand-me-down couch puffing a huge spliff and proclaim to a room full of people that I knew the meaning of life. I wanted to impress the Minnesota blond girls with blue eyes that wore hippie skirts. They were always there hanging on, just part of the scenery. I might have been the first college freshman to fully comprehend the existentialist banter, but I wasn't. I told everyone that the meaning of life was, "To live life." Such an easy, nod inducing theory. We were the meaning of life. This is a familiar concept. I wasn't wrong, I just wasn't right.
Ten years later, I discovered that I wasn't living at all. Despite the books I had read and the places I had been, I was dying. I still am.
When I talk with God, I am praying. They call this religion, faith. When God talks to me, they call it crazy. Typical of this America I was born and reside in. Western culture has manifested a set of rules that ventured from the capitalist ideals and melted into a boiling caldron of apathetic waste. Think I'm just using words to pluck strings here? Look around at your possessions and ask anyone if they read the obituaries. I'm pleading with you to understand that this isn't a slap in the face or a rant of booze induced origin. I only wish to convey that our beings and the illusion we live in, need a bit of coddling and serious inquiry. God always gives me the best answer, God says, "You know what to do". Thing is, I haven't figured out just how.
Knowing death is a bit of comfort. It must be like two sixteen year old girls in their parents car listening to their favorite song on the radio, the car running and the garage door closed.
I'm sorry to press that button, and I'm even more sorry that the next button is tragic in a worse way.
The ten thousand lakes in Minnesota freeze every winter. You can auger a hole in the ice and pull crappies and walleyes out all day. The wind blows a bitter, inclement air that chills the soul under blue skies, upon frozen tundra. Folks cross-country ski over lakes and play pick up hockey games. On big lakes, people drive their automobiles across and look at the stars during the long nights. Sometimes you can catch a whiff of spring, or see an autumn leaf frozen into the surface.
This winter, excess ground water seeped through lake bottoms. The warm water creeped to the surface and melted holes in the ice. The phenomena was widely documented on Long Lake where the "Black Hole" induced theories as wild as alien invasion. On Lake Minnetonka, it just made a crack. That crack was big enough for an Acura to fall through and it did.
Evan and Jackie were high school sweethearts. News reports indicate that Evan liked to play the banjo. Jackie was a long distance runner with curly, swooping brown hair. Her smile was contagious and her hugs must have felt like a fleece blanket. They went for a drive in early January of this year when the temperature was negative six degrees. The car fell through the ice. Jackie escaped and even got out of the chilling water. She waited for Evan to surface. She sat there screaming at the top of her lungs as the water froze to her clothes and skin. When he didn't surface, she started to walk toward the shore. Dripping wet, she tried to wring the water out of her shirt to no avail. She was shivering in spastic jerks. The lights on shore beckoned her as she took small steps and cried.
The next morning, a man on a snowmobile saw a navy blue dot near the shoreline. When he arrived, he discovered a frozen girl with hands tucked in her hooded sweatshirt pockets stuck to the ice. Jackie was less than a hundred yards to the nearest house.
Cry if you want, if you don't, you are heartless. I'm shaking in my seat trying to curb the emotions as tears trickle down my cheeks. I am shaking 'cuz this took so long to write. I can't even face the screen. I feel like a weak chump because I don't know how to measure my own resolve.
Jackie walked, dripping wet, for more than half mile before she froze to death.
Now I'm dying in a different way.
If you want to take a moment, I'll understand. I'm swallowing hard just the same. My nose is running and I've finally gained composure to tell you the rest.
I still wish I was that eighteen year old stewing in philosophical naïve mystery. You might be, but remember, Things fall apart. Life ain't easy, and if you have a computer, your life doesn't consist of soaking beans. Embrace life. Go. Death is just a shimmering reflection of what you do now.