God died the other day after a long battle with leukemia. With his death god took all the answers with him, the ones that might have helped me to understand why he bothered with the whole creation thing if he was just going to be endlessly disappointed in the results.
It’s the one-word question so many have asked for so long of so many gods and never (insofar as I can tell) with a suitable answer. Why? What’s the fucking point?
Last night I watched “The Master” and in so many ways related to the Joaquin Phoenix character. Not so much the alcoholism as the behavior behind it – never quite fitting in, stumbling and bumbling along and making a mess of things as he goes and always chased by demons he can’t quite understand and, frankly, finds too exhausting to pursue.
If you are anything like me this life is a kind of teeter-totter ride. For a time you are up, the view is good and you are filled with inspired thought and ideas and dreams. You are happy and grateful and celebrate the many good things in this life. Food and sex and family and the hummingbirds at the feeder and even the annoying dog you inherited from your ex-wife are all more or less just right.
But then down comes the downward trajectory (is this the teetering or the tottering?) and life takes on a very different hue. There doesn’t seem to be any point to it, the unrelenting monotony of its schedule, the wanton cruelties and Doomsday clock ticking in your DNA, the certainty you’re fucking an awful lot of it up and, again, the absence of answers into any of it.
And now in my case god has died and robbed me of the only tangible approach I had to maybe understanding just a little bit of this thing. Actually, scratch that. God never answered. For 78 years he more or less refused to answer my prayers, refused to indulge in even my most benign entreaties or requests or pleas.
Everyone has a creation story. Mine goes something like this:
God created me in his image – even lent me his name – and almost immediately found me wanting. So he set about trying to re-cast the mold so that I might more clearly resemble whatever the hell it was he wanted. It’s Old Testament stuff, the creation never living up to the creator’s expectations, demands, and weird rules and requirements.
And in my case there’s a doozy of a catch (but come to think of it, it smells Old Testamenty too). Because my god was deeply narcissistic with a healthy dose of sociopathy. He was brilliant and belittling, larger than life and small-minded, and – here’s where the catch comes in – he could not abide the idea of a creation actually measuring up to him. So, you see, god demanded that I rise to his expectations, but in those extremely rare occasions when I did, he yanked out the rug, stuck out a foot, or used a careful combination of words to bring me crashing back to earth. Then my god gazed down disgustedly at me, proof yet again that I’d never measure up. And we’d start the process over again.
While my official training was never complete, eventually the instruction became a part of my fabric.
Recently, while god was dying, I dug around and came across a terrific description of life under a narcissist:
“At heart, children of narcissists, raised up or cast down by the ever-evaluating parent, feel themselves to be less than nothing because they must ‘be’ something to earn their parents’ love. Conditional love offers no support for the inner self. It creates people who have no personal sense of substance or worth. Nourished on conditional love, children of narcissists become conditional. They find themselves unreal.”
That’s perfect. You are unreal because you are an impossibility. And doesn’t it sound like the Old Testament?
So I am left to finish out my own days on this earth, made in my god’s image, named after him, thoroughly imbued with the thought-making process he so assiduously worked to instill in me. That’s one hell of an inheritance.