….a life I thought that I would never be so fortunate to live. A beautiful life.
Yet as I write, wrists worn by the ceaseless shaking of rheumatoid give way to the babbling of bones and a stomach fueled by little more than the desires of a sweet tooth precariously rumbles around like a dam about to burst. I cannot help but sigh. These are the sounds of trying to fit a lifetime in a book. Each word is an epitaph, each paragraph a tombstone.
Perhaps there are things better left unsaid, things meant to be reserved between Grandfather Time and myself. 236 pages prior to this one may provide the evidence for such a claim. But if I have learned anything in my seventy years, it’s that every story, whether it be about strippers in Beirut or the escapades in the rivers South of Quebec, was meant to be interesting. For while life may have been accidental, one should not live by accident.
The probability of life is frighteningly small. Often, people seem to forget about this. They commit life to some conviction, describing the mysteries and wonders of the world with divine majesty. I remember a friend who said that God was in the snow. With dark hazel eyes gleaming in a veil of whiteness, he thought that something so fascinatingly unique and geometrically perfect could only be fashioned by a celestial spirit. He said that science, a pursuit I have spent much of my life endeavoring in, sacrifices the beauty for explanation’s sake. He looked at me as an honest friend only can, and told me that science made such a snowy splendor dull.
I’m not sure. In fact, I am unsure about almost everything, even about being unsure. I live with uncertainty. Most of the happenings around me are explained with deep doubts, narrow approximations, and unlikely probabilities. I know very little about this world and for most things, I know nothing at all.
But there in the snow conjured straight from a Robert Frost poem, I couldn’t disagree more. Doubt, rather than certainty, brings comfort. To take my friend’s example, beauty is much more than face value. It is not one-dimensional. To admire a snowflake falling is to forget how the snowflake falls. The snowflake is beautiful because it can fall, not because it is falling. It is not guaranteed to fall. Theoretically, we expect it to. And that’s comforting.
Maybe to others relief is not found in theory but in the stories told by a bygone era bound biblically by books. To me, such tales are too convenient, too humanl. My friend, while not religious inherently, found reassurance in faith and extrapolated this feeling to the world beyond him. As he saw it, the snowflake was only beautiful because of God’s existence and God existed because of the snowflake’s beauty.
Now I can’t say anything about that. I used to believe that Einstein was living proof there was no God because if there was, he’d never die. While I can’t prove that, I can at least imagine a different story. Imagine a sequence of events so magnificent that it takes 13.7 billions of years to get to and only keeps expanding. Imagine a ball so hot and so dense. Imagine the unimaginable. Imagine a Bang that is so big it brings about everything and anything. Imagine that something that once was becomes something else and it will always be around. Imagine a resurrection of atoms. Imagine light elements cooking in the crucible of immense temperature and pressure. Imagine being connected to everything just by existing. Imagine all of the Universe fitting onto a snowflake.
And realize that it does. For not only did I see the majesty my friend observed, I saw everything else he didn’t. I saw why it was beautiful – how the regular crystalline structure formed hexagonal crystals because of the hydrogen bonds, how this resulted in lower density than the liquid state which in turn allows for the survival of aquatic life during the winter months, how this little water portion cycled through winds that bellowed throughout the whole world, how the world was a little rock knee deep in a cosmic sea, how the cosmic sea was in a Universe larger than we can observe, how we were part of this Universe and more importantly, how it was part of us, the snowflake, and everything else.
I never said this to my friend. We continued down the path, nodding and talking about other things like men do – impartial to most important things while obsessing over whatever is left. But I decided to myself that day that I wouldn’t be like him. I gave up on God and in turn, gave up on the afterlife. This is because not only did I not have empirical evidence for its existence, but thinking that the afterlife would be better than my current life wasn’t really experiencing life. It was just waiting to die.