Existentialism for dummies
My God must love me more than your God.
A note before you begin reading: This is mostly about death and religion. I mention the idea of a false reality in this. If any of this makes you uneasy please click off of this article.
The social preview art is Angel by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu.
Laura Kate tells me she can’t pinpoint where it started. Like, my mother watched too many crime shows with me when I was a child. Like, unrestricted internet access. Like, my body feels used, pulled apart and tethered to something stronger than me. I’m taking classes in psychology and sociology this semester. I read the textbook and find words I could use to apply to myself and then I apply them to other people. I think if I know them better than they know me I can hold the reins even when I’m not present. Nothing will happen that I won’t let happen. This is how the world works.
I’m at the doctor for a physical and a shot. The nurse practitioner asks me if I have any concerns about my general health and wellbeing. Of course, I dart my hand up. I do. I do, I do. This entire interaction has been planned out since the minute I walked into the office. Googled approximately seven times before I even got out of my car, I tell the doctor about these weird red dots I’ve been getting on my arms and thighs. Red splotches, she calls them.
No. That isn’t right. The internet told me it’s called petechiae. I try not to tell her I have also looked at various leukemia diagnosis websites and read up on the timeframe it takes for someone to get worse and then better with the treatments. Including – but not limited to – what I will have to take, the amount of money it will cost, and my nearest cancer treatment center. It’s incurable. I tell her “oh,”, I leave the room, I get into my car and I go home. Nothing happens. My tire pressure light is on and I think about what would happen if I got a flat on my way home. I fly around the curb going five miles over the speed limit and think about what would happen if I would have just flipped the car.
The next day my mother texts me about a consultation I have with a therapist. She tells me she will never judge me for as long as I live and I leave my desk to go cry in the bathroom. I go to work and I cry again. There’s a fly on my drink and I pour slowly into myself the idea that it’s trying to get into my head. As if there is some technology being passed around that I haven’t seen yet. I’m a test subject, a victim. Every car going up and down the street has been meticulously planned out by someone overseeing this entire operation. My boss and his boss talk in a corridor. I stare into the camera right above me and stick my tongue out.
My phone, in my pocket, buzzes. The only thing that feels real is the podcast playing in my ears. My hands tingle as I touch the smooth counter behind me. Wiped down five times in the last hour with a damp paper towel and Clorox bleach. It gets real lonely at night, everyone knows that. The sound of Christian rock plays from the speakers, I hear the passion in the lead singer’s voice. If I give myself to a God this mighty will it end? Is it over, then? When the Earth crashes and burns, and my Jesus Christ comes down to grab my hand, will I feel the ease then? Is it real if it starts to hurt?
I think about the band Coldplay; of course that’s real. Nobody in this fake-world would create a band as real as Coldplay. Obviously. How could I be so stupid?
I cry, again and again. This cannot be the end. It hits me like lightning.
My mother held me for so long as a baby.
Okay, you want to live again. So what? You aren’t the first and you will sure as shit not be the last.
It’s a calculated move. Like, ‘devise a plan when you are fifteen years old’ type calculated. The world moves faster than you think. We know that. They tell you that as soon as you make the Big Move. If they didn’t tell you what the Big Move was then you just didn’t make it yet. Sorry. The world is harsh; cruel. It waits for no one. Welcome to the real world, but I guess they also forgot to tell you that you are the only one who can define what the term “real world” means. Do you really need us to spell it out?
Okay, fine, put the noose down. Get a fucking job, you big baby.
I have dreams of moving out of the country the same way I do envisioning my head severed onto the floor. I think only one of those is plausible enough to happen.
But I know what manifestation is, I read it about it through a Twitter thread, so I’m doomed. I must be. Who else thinks this much? Really? I’ll be dead in a million years, if I try my hardest.
They lied to me again, didn’t they?
You thought you’d be dead by now? Huh? Why are you still breathing?
Inhale, exhale. You find that the sucking of your own stomach hurts but you take the breath anyway because you like the sound of your own voice. What better reason to do anything at all than through pure vanity? The jacket keeps you warm, but you’re only warm because you like telling people it was a lot of money and it makes you look sophisticated. There’s a tie between breathing and being noticed, but one matters more than the other and it’s not the first one. There are think pieces upon think pieces about why looking pretty should not be your only reason for living. The attention you get matters to no one, not even your own selfish mind, if you don’t amount to something larger. But I’m not as smart as people say I am, so why keep learning? They tell me my memory is impeccable, I’ll add that to my dictionary. You’re so sentient, who says that to a fourteen year old?
I live for all these reasons but when if you asked me why I’m still alive I wouldn’t know. I’m hanging on the edge of the universe, things I’m waiting for to happen. They haven’t happened yet. I guess I’ll keep waiting.
I’m still scared of the dark, even at seventeen. My counselor in the eighth grade told me my problem is that I’m too aware. I live in a dead mill-town. I wake up and people are dying, dead, or about to start one of those two processes. I need noises to distract me otherwise I think about what will happen to me after I die. A lot of people tell you it won’t be painful but total blackness is more terrifying to me than the idea of a devil existing. At least I would be around someone who wants me to sit in a space with them even if my toes are on fire. It’s not like he’s getting paid for it. He must really care about me.
The South is known for repenting, which I don’t do, by the way. Religion is a fuzzy feeling in my stomach. You don’t need it to live a long, youthful life but I find myself on my knees sometimes and when I am on them I also cry a lot. I pour myself out to the men I envision before me, who disappear into the night when I open my eyes. I don’t know if that’s the Holy Spirit or if religion just does things like that to a person. I stand out of the prayer circle on Thanksgiving, but I don’t know why. Too culty, I tell them. I don’t like that your God is talking to my God. I don’t like that you think we have the same one. I feel bad for the devil, and all the other people in the Bible sometimes. Girls at school and in grocery stores talk about their pastors telling them about The End. I don’t know what The End is but they appear to spend a lot of time preparing for it.
My attachments to religion, or my lack thereof, started in middle school. Now, my God likes me for trying my best. We don’t talk. He doesn’t even send me signs. We just have that kind of relationship. Your God seems to scare you, like a child running from creatures in the night. I’ll bet you one more and say He doesn’t like you at all.
My God must love me more than your God.
As much as I would like to believe that my life is fruitful and it will always be bountiful because of the voice inside my head, my life and my God don’t go hand in hand. They will never go hand in hand. I sometimes doubt the legitimacy of why those who speak of their God so highly do it in the first place. The Christian religion and those involved have fucked me more times than they have held my hand.
Per my eighth grade counselor: I can explain myself. I have always had very odd thoughts about death. My lack of experience in the subject makes me angry. I hate the genre, the fact I can’t touch it with my hands. I hate the fact I can read a million different accounts of the same story and none of them be the same. I can’t touch my God with my hands either, but the connection I have with death is inconsistent and puzzling. God passes. Death doesn’t. God is impermanent and death rings her bell when she feels most dissatisfied.
My best friend wants to work as an autopsist. She loves the science of it all but every time I have to see a body even moments away from death I just can’t handle being the bearer of something this real. Something with an ending. I read stories where the main character is doomed from the start and I hate knowing that one day the rug will be pulled from beneath my feet. There is nothing more permanent yet fleeting than life itself. You can’t sit there and ponder it until it goes away because the inevitability of it all is that it doesn’t.
So you grapple with it, you watch it, you live it.
It’s a struggle show for survival but you keep running for the prize, which isn’t even anything you pull on with your hands. There’s something very humiliating about tiresome lungs running for a life that isn’t even promised for them. But you live anyway. You like the people and the feel of spiderweb fingers drawing lines across your face and the words crawling into your ears like lullabies in a mother tongue you weren’t even aware you spoke.
I love you so much.
Well, yeah, who wouldn’t?
This is you living again.