Tag Archives: religion

Resurrection

6 Apr

Yesterday was Easter. As someone who know longer identifies strictly as either Catholic or nondenominationally Christian, the day does not hit my life as hard as it used to, back when Easter meant something like bunnies and chocolate and uncomfortable pretty dresses, weeks of waiting and a vague feeling of having made it somewhere when the trumpets played during the very last song, adolescence and jeans and strangled, crying prayers and final, desperate relief at sunrise. There was victory to it, back then.

There is some misgiving around it for me, now. I can look on it as a part of my family history and my life narrative, but not longer a part of my personal legacy. There would be less truth about me, if I went and sat in an Easter pew, now.

I am glad for those who can celebrate Easter with no taint of regret or guilt or hate or distrust lurking in the low notes of those Sunday hymns, whether the tinges be from wider eyes and disillusionment or vision shut down from hatred of the part of the world that isn’t you.

I belong to the former category. It’s a long story, but mostly boils down to my refusal to accept that what a group of arbitrary essentially-white men decided together in a randomly located room before the microscope was anywhere near invented is absolute truth about the universe at every single moment in time.

Call it doubt. Call it skepticism. Call it science. I don’t really care. It is where I am at, and I do not feel the need to try to force anyone else to try to be there. I claim no label because I do not presume that I know enough about the universe to say that yes, I am capable of finding absolutely the right one and yes, you should absolutely use it too.

I am not a god. I am not even a physics nobel laureate.

So instead, I have settled loosely upon allowing Shakespeare to describe my doctrine, with that Hamlet line, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Science revisits and retests and grows and revises itself. Discards and discovers. Describes everything with an ever-expanding vocabulary. And as someone who grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, who grew up writing sci-fi and fantasy, I am willing to clinging to a last little bit of hope that there’s some kind of magic out there, in this very wide place of existence.

Maybe it’s a network of universal consciousness. Maybe it’s a god. Maybe it’s the ridiculous self-trick that is the human mind, the reason that while I claim no religion I will still pray to the God that I muttered tearful little prayers to as a child because sometimes it’s nice to pretend that someone like that is maybe still listening.

Or maybe it’s just gonna be more science being really damn cool.

Whatever the case, yesterday was a day about celebrating resurrection. And even as the lovely little heathen I have become, I too could appreciate that feeling of a breath of fresh* air as a tomb opens and something you thought was dead walked out.

In my case, a character I spent five years writing and whose dead horse I thought I’d thoroughly bludgeoned beyond any future salvageability just up and showed up in the back of my mind and started talking and generating plot and apparently having a story again. And she’s not a character I’d heard from in a loooong time, outside of edits for that infernal manuscript of hers I swear I will finish cleaning up this year and finally send off into the vastly frightening, teeth-gnashing world of oh god please traditional publishing agents take on my book.

This character – Mariasa – she’s the closest analog of me I have in a character. Sort of. I’ve written short stories where the MC’s were also me, in some way, but I tended to be more self-aware about that. I wrote the short story because I needed to fling my emotions or my imagination into some other scenario so they could sort themselves out there. Or I was just playing pretend in words. That’s what we writers do, you know.

But Mariasa – I started writing her story when I was 14. I wasn’t super conscious of what I was doing, within my writing. I was just doing it. So I went along for about five years, pouring dreams and hopes and personality and adventure I couldn’t extract from my own life into this character. She was my soul, out having another life somewhere. And I didn’t realize this until about three years after I’d finished that first draft of her story. There is a line, in my development as a writer. “Before the time I realized that I’d used parts of real humans to shape many of my characters” and “After the time I realized that many of my female MC’s were basically alternate versions of me and that oh god so many of the male protagonists are based off of a certain guy friend and I should probably go smush my face into his and see how that goes.”

Ah, college.

Anyhoo. Mariasa. She lived in my head for so long. I would sit at my windowsill with my notebook in my lap and my dog at my feet and I’d loop the same 40-minute CD for hours and stare out my window at the world beyond it and it was really only a matter of how fast I could move the pencil to keep up with how fast Mariasa was traveling across her own world having adventures. She was the story I could just sit down and write. No writer’s block. No uncertainty. I’d sit down to pick up where I’d left off and suddenly have a backlog of five more scenes in my head that I needed to move Mariasa to. She was my great story.

And then I finished it. And I was 18, and my world and mental health simultaneously started to crack. Probably causative, that. But this meant that for five more years, Mariasa’s story stayed ended. I got stuck in this endless loop of editing. Because of course it was never good enough. Fix it. Fix it. Fix it. Grow into a different person with altered values and more knowledge and greater exposure and fix it again.

Over. And over. And over again.

Locked into a life structure of my own where I come up against the same brick wall again and again and locked into an editing loop where I’ve continually tried to smooth over the same set of passages while repeatedly stalling and not getting any further, I’ve been frustrated with the staleness of the same words and the same sort of life I’m writing them in, and I’ve been at the stage of “I just want to finish the damn thing” for a while now.

And then I went to Europe.

There was a lot of fresh air in Europe.

Mariasa’s story is one of adventures. I went out and had some adventures. Parts of me long quiet woke up again, and the other chatter that’s routinely bounced around in my mind and made it impossible to be properly productive, properly imaginative went silent. There was room for the quiet little voices in my mind that murmur about adventure to wake up again. I guess it makes sense that Mariasa would wake up, too.

And it’s a desperate relief, this resurrection. Because it means a part of me that I thought might be dead forever is coming back to life. Or at least did long enough for Mariasa to come out of whatever tomb in my mind she’d been hiding in.

She’s older now. Which is good, because it means that she’s grown. She’s got the light I build her character from but there’s spark to her now, too. Less worried about “good,” more able to make hard decisions. But still, as always, caring really damn hard.

She’s slipped on her sweater and the first pair of shoes in reach. She’s ready to go into the world again.

I’ve started her story – not sure if it’ll be a short of a full-blown novel as well, but I’m letting her decide that. This isn’t a story with an agenda. This is just a story.

Mariasa woke up. Apparently we’re going somewhere.

———–

*Okay, I know any air coming from a newly unsealed tomb around the time of Jesus would have been anything but fresh. Whatever. Pretend it’s the shiny Hollywood version. We’re talking metaphors here. Deal with it.

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The Omniscience Chronicles: Dari and Micah

21 Feb

She shuffled uncomfortably. “Sometimes people have a hard time with me.”

Micah looked at her curiously. “Why?”

“I’m blazingly honest.” She hopped down from the side of his bed. “If you ask me a question, I’m not going to skirt around with niceties. You’re going to get the real answer, whether you wanted it or not.”

“Isn’t that what everybody does?”

Dari burst out laughing. “You actually think that? Micah, wake up. People don’t really want to know what you have to say these days. They want some nice gloss of a response that imparts absolutely no information whatsoever so they can feel good about acknowledging you and then move on with their life with as little disruption as possible.”

“Oh.”

“I’m sorry,” Dari’s voice softened. She put a hand on Micah’s shoulder. “It’s that blazingly honest thing again. I don’t know how to how to account for people’s sensitivities. I kind of just bowl you right over.”

Micah shook his head. “My fault for being so naïve,” he said gruffly.

Dari looked away. Her eyes dropped to the ground. “Naïveté isn’t so regrettable,” she said quietly. “Better than knowing everything and just walking around jaded all the time.”

Micah helped her snap her bra back on. “Life’s ruined for you, isn’t it?”

She pulled up her skirt and tugged at the snagged zipper. “Pretty much. Humans aren’t supposed to know all things, Micah. Takes the wonder out of everything. Well, just about everything…” She slipped her t-shirt over her head and tugged it down around her waist.

Micah paused where he was buttoning his jeans back together. “That’s why you do this, isn’t it? It’s the only thing you have left. Raw experience.”

Dari nodded silently. “Even then, knowing exactly how my biology is going to respond to each manipulation… there’s no element of surprise. Expectation reduced down to an algorithm… takes the intimacy out of it. And my body knows it, too. My senses are starting to dull. My dopamine receptors are slowly being pruned away, never being able to register more reward than anticipated, because my anticipations are always correct. I’m slowly being stripped of my ability to register pleasure.” Dari laughed darkly. “And where will that leave me? A cynical old maid who knows too much for her own good.”

Micah looked at her bashfully. “I’d still like you.”

Dari laughed again. “No you wouldn’t. You only think you would. Eventually you’d learn to spurn me. You’re a poet, Micah. The flowery kind. You walk around finding lovely images to compose into attempts at truth. And while you get halfway there, you stop short and end up still firmly within the bounds of falsity. You delude yourself into believing in your own constructions, making you one of the billions living on this planet who never really understand anything. And you know that I’d never stop pointing that out to you, either, because you, with your own strange compulsions, can never stop asking me what I think. No, Micah. You’d come to hate me.”

“Gee, thanks for the compliment. Glad you have such faith in people.”

“Faith,” Dari spat out the word as if it left a bad taste in her mouth. “What use have I for faith?”

Micah stared at her closely. Then, slowly, realization dawned on his face. “They didn’t give you a choice, did they?”

Dari plopped back down onto the bed. “No, they didn’t. I was a class-5 citizen, Micah. Experimental stock, only one step above shark bait. And I’m a girl. Our crop was short on females, which made me a valuable commodity. Not to be wasted on just any scientific venture. No, I was allowed no say in what experiment I went to. I was slotted for a top-priority religio-scientific assay from birth.”

“The Omniscience question.”

Dari nodded. “Scientists have long since accepted that humans are made in the image of God. Ultimate goodness, generosity of Optimized Altruism, the ability to tolerate paradoxes – all that shit has already been proven as Enhanceable Qualities of the Almighty.” Micah looked at her quizzically. Dari rolled her eyes. “Characteristics of God present in humans as a result of the whole “made in His image” deal that we can draw out and maximize as a part of our general personalities, idiot. Honestly, don’t you keep up with current events?” Without waiting for answer – given that she already knew it- Dari went on, “Anyways, in recent centuries, the Priesthood of Logical Ends has been getting rather ambitious. The PLE figured that if we could master some of the Almighty’s qualities, then shouldn’t we be able to master all of them, even the ones formerly thought to be reserved only for the Big Guy himself?”

Micah nodded slowly, understanding. “Hence the Omniscience project.”

“The Omnipresence project actually came first,” Dari bubbled, “but most people don’t know about that one because it ended up being a big flop. Turns out we’re too tied to our matter, in this life at least, for us to be too many places at once. Quarks apparently don’t take too kindly to being cut in half, even if only momentarily. I hear the snap that happens when your matter realizes it’s been Twinned and promptly fuses itself back together is highly unpleasant. Test subjects kept dying of pain.” Dari chewed on her lip and looked thoughtful for a moment. “But if they could figure out how to reconcile a few more digits of the Existence Coefficient with the remainder of the Quotient of Perceived Momentum, they might have it… Anyhoo, doesn’t matter,” Dari said brightly. “The PLE never ends up figuring it out. They pray very hard about it for a couple of dedicated decades and then decide that it’s impossible.”

Micah stared at her for a moment, too stunned to say anything. He considered asking another question and then thought the better of it.

Dari giggled. “Anyways,” she said, snatching her sweater off the ground, “I should be going.”

Micah leaned over and kissed her deeply on the neck. “Dari,” he murmured, wrapping his arms around her so she couldn’t leave, “there is a God then?”

Dari leaned into his shoulder. “Of course, stupid.”

Micah thought very hard. He knew he could only keep her there for so long. “Why does he let bad things happen?”

Dari squirmed. “Because.”

“Because why?”

“No,” Dari shifted so she was facing him. “That’s all there is. Just – because.” Micah raised an eyebrow at her, waiting. “Look,” she said, annoyed, “just because I know everything doesn’t mean I understand it.” She wriggled her way out of his arms. “I really have to go now.”

She turned to leave but Micah caught her by the hand. She whipped around, but there was something in the way that Micah was looking at her that stayed her tongue. He met her eyes and held them in his steady gaze.

“Dari,” Micah’s voice broke as he said the word. “Dari, why you?”

Dari didn’t say anything. Instead, she only shook her head sadly, leaned in close and silently kissed Micah on the cheek. Micah let go of her hand. Dari walked quickly towards the door. She was just reaching for the door handle when Micah called out to her again.

“Dari,” he said her name gently, so gently, “what’s the answer?

Dari turned and stared at him. “Micah… there isn’t one.”