Episode 2: A New Hope
The first question most people ask about dying is, “was there a light? Anything?” What they mean is did you cheat and get any answers to bring back. The answer for me, as the answer has been for any folks who’ve made a two-way trip, is no. It’d have been great if the faulty wiring in my cardiac region led to me being deputized as a messenger angel, but no such luck this time out.
I’m a narrative driven person. I am lover of stories even discounting my Christian upbringing, which sort of doubles down on living your life by a story. Every bit of my life dresses in characters and arcs and emotional roil of one kind or another. What dying did for me was flip on the work lights. Nothing de-romanticizes life quicker than dying due to electrical failure out of nowhere. I’m not suddenly divorced from a life of stories and angles and arcs. 40 years of training doesn’t disappear like that, but I have a drumbeat now underneath all that reminding me of the basic mechanistic nature of our existence. For a while that was depressing. Is that really all there is? Is this really just a 70-80 year grind to eat enough (but not too much) and not get hit by a car?
What it really means is that the narratives we choose to hang on that idiotic machinery aren’t externally proscribed. If you’re me you’ve lived life writing fan fiction based on received narrative. But that’s not the truth of our world. It is -a- truth. But we can walk away from that fence whenever we want to. If you’re driven to be connected and in leadership you tend to operate at the edges, the frontiers, the fence line. It’s easy to feel that fence line, that frontier as a definition of possibility.
It’s not. You have the entire plain inside that edge of existence to carve for your own. If you only have the energy to make beauty for 10 people at a time that’s great! If you want to make music on typewriters great! The texture of this world is improved when you carve out your layer a little differently than the folks nearest you.
It doesn’t change what’s at the base of this existence. I know pretty conclusively what that looks and feels like now. But it means feeling less guilty about my choices now. I died a failure by all those narrative measures. I had no impact on my field, I have no career to speak of, and I’m sort of shockingly bad at capitalism – I died in debt to create more massive debt.
So I choose to work with the Redeeming Time Project or to do a Fringe show because there will be great sword fighting in it with fun folks.
I want to save the world. I do. I’m just not well equipped to succeed at that, so I’ll make the parts of the world I can reach better.