Thanks for this nothing, God. It means everything.

From my journal: Friday, January 17, 2014

My footsteps fall in metric simile, each one drawing another through the haze of competing California winter fragrances. The jade, eucalyptus and God knows what else struggle for supremacy among this cacophonous olfactory bouquet. Malibu. It is morning. And it is sublime. No one should have to endure such unyielding beauty and then face the journey away from it, two days hence. How can I somehow slow the hours, each one a minute long, and just…be? Here? Now? At the same time?

I walk just past the guarded entranceway to this gateway-to-the-stars community tucked neatly in the Malibu hills. I’ve seen Jack Black and some other gal I saw in a movie recently – all in the space of less than twenty-four hours. It must get old, this life on a dinner plate existence. Many people who live here fear everyday that someone saw them take a piss somewhere and before lunch are an unfortunate YouTube sensation.

I make my way to the comfiest chair I can find in a little marketplace as transfixing as it is calming. Here I can pretend to write when really I’m just people watching and giving them the same opportunity to watch me not watching them while writing about me not watching them not watching me write about what I see in so doing…or something like that.

Malibu chair of "suffering"
Malibu chair of “suffering”

It steadies my busy brain and offers me a plate of heady hors d’oeuvres of literary license. It’s a place to remember in words what I now experience. It’s odd however the stuff that comes in such moments. One might suspect thoughts of peace and thoughtful reverie to be most forthcoming. But, as is often the case with my non-servile mind, I am drawn instead to other, more complicated, considerations.

I’m in a pretty good place these days. I’m as grateful and hopeful as I’ve ever been. But, from that place of relative repose, I’ve been wondering about something lately; wrestling really. God seems more than content to leave the human psyche in tatters and chains if it serves a higher purpose. From my under-the-sun perspective, God appears almost happy to tear apart a perfectly stable and happy mind if, by some robust digging, gold can be found.

If I were totally honest (as is kind of the point with journals, I suppose), I’d concede a high level of frustration at this annoying characteristic. It creates a feeling of being duped. Tricked. Manipulated. Like a puppet in the hands of a Junior High School boy with nothing better to do.

If not for the pretty consistent fact that the sweet jam from bad fruit God capably produces in my own life, I could pretty quickly cash in the chips on this whole Christian spiritual enterprise and happily (albeit deceived) soak in the sun of cultural narcissism. I’d dine off the fat and suck the teat of Babylon’s ample breast.

But, alas, too much personal change tossed up from this sacred chaos, continues washing up on my beach. And, when seen as a child, who doesn’t like scrounging in beach foam for the occasional silver dollar with an attached promissory note of more to come?

Congratulations, God. You’ve made an already impossibly complex life infinitely more so. The big difference is that, to step back a ways from the messes you create, is to see that all the smelly, washed up beach foam looks strikingly like the face of someone…familiar.

So, instead of tying up my mind with unnecessarily large matters, I’ll close my computer, don my sunglasses, procure yet another Americano and portage this heavy boat to the sunnier side of this river, where the contented people go.

Thanks for this nothing, God. It means everything.

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