Sunday, March 25, 2012

the girl. the big death. the chillax.

I've been following Dr. Richard Beck's Experimental Theology blog for a year or two now, and lately I'm really loving his Slavery of Death series. It's prompted me to examine my life for ways in which my own fear of death has driven me to build a body of evidence (my art & writing) that will prove to me and everybody else that I'm not yet quite dead.

It's not a bad thing, of course, that I would want to paint and write and photograph beautiful, true things; but it's becoming clear to me that when a major motive force behind such creativity is anxiety over my own mortality, then no amount of creation is ever going to bring me any real measure of lasting peace. I'm going to die, anyways. So are you.

Last night during a long, lovely, languorous phone conversation with a woman, I realized that the source of the anxiety I feel about not getting to "have" her more permanently in my life is not some gut-churningly celestial connection that she and I have made, but rather my desire to box our relationship into something that will help me stave off the fear of death. If I can nail it all down, the thinking goes, then at least I'll know I won't go solo into that good night. It's pointless, though.

See, when I think about our beautiful conversations and her beautiful letters and so on, it is oh-so-tempting to forget that - to paraphrase the philosopher/poet Popeye: "I yam where I yam," and that no amount of desire or forward-self-projection will enable me to enjoy this moment any better, nor prevent it from slipping away into the past and leaving me, ultimately, quite dead.

I guess the reason I like Dr. Beck's take so much is that he does a pretty bang-up job of pointing out that Jesus' express mission wasn't to present me with a newer, more stringent set of guidelines I had to follow to keep death at bay; it was to point out that all such attempts are doomed - but that I can chillax into Love anyway, because God is Love. I can wave the white flag, put down my weapons, and let Love motivate my creative process.

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