Thursday, January 15, 2009

Musings on Comedy, Tragedy, and the Meaning of Life

Why do comedy and romance go together? Is it because romance is ridiculous? Or is it because the idea that it exists in a world that also contains tragedy is inherently ridiculous? How can I acknowledge the fact that certain things about this world I live in and what my senses tell me, cannot be reconciled? 

Fact: My friend's little boy died. It cannot be true that sunlight, laughter; the pure, sweet ridiculousness of every day life, exist in the same world where a mother grieves for her child, let alone a world in which countless mothers mourn. The world is rife with rejection and anger and hate and cruelty. Lives are torn apart. Immeasurable anguish is suffered. And yet I cannot deny that transcendent joy and love and hilarity also exist. These two facets of life are equally true and real, but it seems that the existence of either one must negate the existence of the other. I cannot hold them both in my hands at the same time, but I cannot set either of them aside.

I was in the delivery room when my nephew, Luke, was born. I've always been fascinated by the concept of childbirth (possibly because my mom was pregnant for half of my childhood) and I jumped at the chance to be there when my sister had her first child. I'm not sure what I was expecting but the thing that struck me the most was that the entire process was just kinda disgusting. You were expecting me to say transcendent right? And yes, it was that too. 100%. And yet. 

And yet that did not alter the fact that there was pain and struggle and blood and vomiting and (for Pete's sake people) a baby coming out of a hoo-ha. That's just gross. But also? Amazing and beautiful and unable to be tarnished by the fact that it is such a bizarre, human, event. These aspects seemingly cannot exist simultaneously, and yet they do. 

I can look at the world and know, "Yes, things are bad. So bad that there cannot be any hope." And yet I look for hope and I find it, there where it shouldn't exist. Rivaling hopelessness in my brain for the space to be real, to be acknowledged. This is what I struggle to understand. The fundamental disconnect between what should be and what is. Between the seen and the unseen. Between love and hate, grief and joy, loss and renewal. My hands are not big enough to hold them both. My mind is not open enough to hold them both. My only hope is that there is One who is big enough. I believe there is. But it doesn't mean I don't agonize over the questions: How? Why?


Kathy said...

We are so similar in the things that agonize us sometimes it blows me away. I have beef with God...big beef. These are alot of the reasons why I have big beef with God. My biggest beef with God is the fact that Amanda lost Abigail. Amanda who serves God so faithfully, lives her life the way christians are SUPPOSE to...WHY WHY WHY? I can not talk to Amanda for four years find her phone number call her up and she ever remains a calm safe place in the midst of the storm. I'm not such a great person. I don't remain faithful to God...Ive made poor horrible choices that have terrible consequences...I have a mean hateful vindictive tendancies and yet for the most part I've remained spared of any horrific life tragedies. WHY! I DESERVE THEM! Which then makes me suspicious that God is working up a really big boner of a life tragedy for my happy ass which makes me now RESENT HIM. " I KNOW YOUR'RE OUT TO GET ME YOU BIG DUMB GOD JERK!" God can't win in my book.

I personally live in fear of being happy because apparently I am waiting for that big tragic life event to transpire and if I am "indiffernet" toward life in general nothing will ever hurt. It will just feel like NOTHING.

I need more coffee. Again, you really need to write a book. :)

Amanda in RI said...

Hey Jess,
You always post such deep things, and I scarely know how to respond. Sometimes I wish I could just give you a big hug, and tell you to just LET GO of all of these big questions.

Honestly, I've found that it doesn't always do that much good to ponder them. I could spend the rest of my life asking, "Why?" and "What if?". It would not do me one jot of good.

It's not that I don't struggle with my resentments. Why did so-and-so get knocked up and THEIR baby live? (Kathy, I am not referring to you AT ALL!!!!). I still have a VERY difficult time being around babies & girls named Abigail. You'd think after 13 years I'd be past that.

It's just--good does exist. Beauty does exist. God is GOOD. God is FAITHFUL. All of the other crap in this world? Sin brought that about. It wasn't God's plan. Not for grief, not for heartache, not for sickness....but He does what He can (and what we ALLOW Him to) to hold us through those times.

My heart breaks for AnnMarie & her family. Do you know I still haven't written to her? I don't know what to say. As cliche as it is--TIME is what will help. TIME, and not allowing yourself to get bitter. To acknowledge that sometimes crappy, horrible, tragic, agonizing things happen. And there's no "Why", "Why us?", "What if?". You can't do that to yourself.

And how the good & bad exist simultaneously? That's just one of the mysteries of life.

Emily said...

Suffering is the greatest conundrum to me. I am always wondering why God lets it happen and most of the time to ones who cannot defend themselves. Children most of all and the only thing that keeps me going is His promise to make everything right. I can't see that far and my tears would probably block my vision. But in the end He will right all the wrongs, He said he would. That is all I have to hang onto. That is the only thing that does not keep me from taking my kids and hiding them away so no harm would come to them. That is all I have.

jess said...

Wow, great feedback, guys. I'll respond at more length (possibly in another post) because you all brought up great points. Thanks for commenting!

kate said...

I just erased what I was going to write...not well thought out enough to post. I enjoyed reading your post, Jess. I am sorry that your friend lost her son. I think we are encouraged and drawn to asking questions because God wants to answer those questions and grow us to be more like Him in the process. At least you'll find out more about who He's created you to be by asking.

You are a gifted writer.

Stuce said...

what I want to say, at the risk of being contrite: These subjects are places I try not to go. After watching a documentary about the genocide in Rowanda, I found a lack of sleep, appetite, and joy as a result.
And, I have to say, Amanda's post is where I found myself. I had to just let go. I have to believe God gives those people SOMETHING, I don't know what, to get through it. I told a friend once, that I would not survive the death of a child. She responded, "You would. Because, you would have too." And, she would know.
There is nothing else I can reconcile. I figure I can't keep grieving, after watching a Rowandan woman forgive and serve dinner to the man that slaughtered her five children. how did she get through it? She cited a supernatural hope in God. I can't say I would be as resiliant, but it gives me hope for tragedy. But, like everything, I think there is a season. "A time to grieve..A time to die...A time to have joy"..
You are grieving with those who grieve, and to me, there's nothing more human.

l i s a said...

yes, to somehow find a way to hold this paradox in a way that allows us to move on but without blinders. looking forward to your next post on this subject.

Defiantmuse said...

yin and yang. you can't have one without the other.

i suppose i view it all in a different manner, being atheist. i don't have trouble reconciling these things, they just are.

life is beautiful and it's tragic and nothing can exist without its opposite balancing the scales.

bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. it's karma or the luck of the draw or maybe there is some lesson behind it all that our brains aren't quite capable of grasping. but we struggle on and deal with what it thrown our way and learn our lessons or not.

that's my take on it all, anyway. and what helps me get through my days.

Anonymous said...

OMG! my hoo-ha is famous!!! sorry again about the vomiting on you and then making you wash AND purell your perfectly clean hands before holding sweet baby who just came out a hoo-ha. Those first time moms are crazy!

Jason, as himself said...

Very well put. And it is an interesting dichotomy, isn't it?

I also liked the "baby coming out of a hoo-ha" bit.