If God is a fly on the wall, Nanny, hand me the flyswatter. (Gaby Brimmer)
When I was a child, I had a concrete vision of the soul. In the way of children, envisioning the insubstantial, unproven and questionable reality of what in essence is the core of every human being (or so we were taught) necessitated a vision of what that looked like.
For me, the soul was a small, somewhat spherical object- around the size of an apricot. A soft, aged ivory (for the shining, blinding purity of pure white was destined only for god and for the odd saint), it would feel warm and real in your hands (had you been able to hold it), full of gentle undulating hills and valleys with a tender, soft texture, a unique tapestry of the individual to whom it belonged, unlike anyone else’s and as exclusive to one person as fingerprints.
Sinning would darken the surface of the soul, a creeping, gray cloud of proof of your fall from grace…. the severity of the sin dictating the level of darkness and size of the area to which it spread. Confession of course would result in the magnificent, sweeping cleansing of your soul, the darkness obliterated in honest regret and sorrow at your transgressions. I was always grateful (then) to be Catholic and to have that incalculable opportunity of erasing all wrongdoing.
Somewhere along my path the past few years, I lost my soul.
I remember feeling it slipping, the slight sharp pain as the tendons and muscles keeping it snug within my chest began to loosen, snapping in the sharp wind of disbelief, shredding as doubts scissored revelation into tattered fragments of thought and belief slowly bloated and decomposed in the cloying heat of betrayal.
The hole which it left in my chest, though outwardly not apparent, has turned out to be an insidious, creeping rot leading to the ultimate destruction (and only lately am I wondering, re-creation) of who and what I am.
I sometimes feel insubstantial as mist, and see eddies of personality, of creativity, of individuality drifting away on the soft breeze of change, their moorings lost in the undulating, changing sea of lost beliefs. Sometimes, I feel as if I exist only as a reflection in someone else’s eyes – a one dimensional cut-out, to be moved and placed and dressed at another’s whim.
I feel removed from who I once thought I was – it as if I have already experienced death and like the recollections of those who have died and come back, see myself outside the corporeal reality of this body. Or conversely, it is as if I look behind me and wonder who that person WAS? She is a stranger to me, that silly woman, with her obdurate insistence on believing not just in god but in people in her life – this despite the overwhelming multitude of reasons NOT to.
I think that when you lose faith, there is a seismic eruption in the way in which you perceive the world.
One of the hardest lessons from this loss of faith was the necessity of redefining what I thought were the absolutes of memory. Because apparently, the way I remembered things was not the way the realities occurred, but were coloured by my naivety and trust, at the time offered up with a patina of credulousness.
Woven in the undulating reality of my aghast comprehension is a dark, sticky thread of rage, smaller than the skein of loss, less substantial than the thread of hopelessness but nonetheless insidious and concrete. Rage erupting from the knowledge that the leaching away of hope and belief is an inevitable consequence of a barrage of unpalatable truths and the revelation of lies, shot accurately and unerringly in the very spots where they will sustain the most damage.
You see, the problem with “absolutes” and the “leap of faith” (although technically, Søren Kierkegaard to whom this phrase is attributed, said leap to faith) is that when somehow you lose the capacity to make that leap, then there is a sudden awareness that the ground itself on which you stand is insubstantial and quaking beneath your feet.
Losing my ability to believe in an absolute like god was simply one facet of a complete and utter comprehension that my entire viewpoint was skewed and the interpretation of my world was at best, slanted, and at worst, incalculably tainted.
One thing it does is make one humble!
I’m always in awe of those who continue, despite perhaps, good and solid reasons NOT to, continue to believe.
In god, yes, but also that their futures hold hope and possibility. I salute those of you who continue to BELIEVE despite the imprecations of fate and events in lives that leave weaker individuals like myself yelling at the heavens and foreswearing faith ever again.
You’re damn impressive.
And in the meantime, if you happen to come across this little wizened grey object and you’re not entirely sure what the hell it is, just kick it over here, k?
and just because I think this little girl is the cutest little thing on the EARTH and one thing I do continue to have faith in is babies, enjoy this little video!