Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Prism of all Beauty

I must warn you, that I am not the type for revelations. But who is? Have you ever met someone who’s had a revelation who was the type for it? Or heard of someone? Of course not – revelation in its very nature is entirely unexpected. Archimedes never expected to solve calculus problems in his bathtub, as I am sure his neighbors never rightly expected to see a naked Archimedes running wildly through the streets. And yet, I have had a minor revelation. I was sitting in my bed, thinking about the movie “Up”, and how it hit me so close to home, when I realized something important.

Humor is distance. It is the distance between pain and reconciliation - it is the path a beam of light travels from emptiness to solid form. Humor is a prism – you can see the light running through it and view at first-hand all the colors of human emotion. In that emotional distance, you can see everything: tears and sadness, regret, happiness, betrayal, excitement, anxiety, joy.

Humor is a way to cover up the void, or at least, to cover up what seems to be a void. But the secret to humor is that there really isn’t a void there, after all. I mean, it may seem that way once or twice, or maybe a few times, but when you keep checking, the void disappears. I’ll show you what I mean:

There’s a void, and it could be empty. And you would say, why is the void always empty? And I would say, why does it matter – look how quickly it fills again. The void just fills and refills, the finite running through the infinite, the light running through the prism and allowing its reflections to bounce off of all objects.

Or you would say, why do you suppose there is a void at all? Isn’t there always something filled, so how could it be empty? What kind of a fool would you have to be to believe in an empty space? That’s the joke, really – the joke is that it doesn’t actually matter whether there is an empty space or not. It really doesn’t matter whether there is a void or not, at the end of everything, mostly because it’s always being filled…whether it’s filled with love or compassion or sympathy or understanding or brotherhood…it doesn’t really matter what was there before, but only what is going into it.

And I suppose that’s why I am a humanist. I see light pouring in from all sides – although I must acknowledge I do not know what was here before. For me, it is a mystery – and it is enough to say that there is a void and that it is being filled up, like the beginning of a joke followed by a punchline, or despair followed by consolation. And I see all kinds of beautiful strains of light pouring into the world, beautiful stained glass revelations from every creed and tradition, overflowing with wisdom and compassion.

Before I was here, there was nothing to tell you what I am telling you. Now I am here. That is enough for me. I know my family and friends will ask me, how can you see the light in this world and not acknowledge its beauty? Please believe me, I do. It is beautiful, and ghastly, and haunting.

I can imagine it with some difficulty, as is usually fitting for these sorts of experiences. I begin to imagine that everything which has ever been imagined does not exist. Then it exists, and it is incredible, and stunning - and then I realize, too, that none of it may ever exist again. I don’t know where it comes from, and I don’t know where it’s going. All I know is that I am surrounded by this beautiful light and I want to fill this seemingly empty and desolate canvass with all of its gorgeous shades and pastels, to pass something surreal through that great void and create beauty again.

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