If you follow my book updates, you may know that I've decided to scrap all of my book materiel (it's gotten too massive to work with) and write a new book with similar themes and content entirely by hand. I do most of my writing by hand anyway, but in the past I've typed up the handwritten material and tried to work off the typed up manuscript.
My hope with this new approach is that I will be forced to focus on the thematic connections between each new section and the previous, since I'll be working off of that material instead of trying to keep the whole work in mind. It seems to be working. I've been writing a little a day for less than a month and I have about 8,000 words (and they're decent words, too).
What follows below is the beginning and the only section I have typed up so far. I don't want to post too much, as I think the book will be better if I write it in privacy where I can be most vulnerable. However, I do want to share (and get readers!) so I do hope to post occasional pieces. If you don't like them, don't tell me. But if you do, please like and share on social media. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll have that mystical reality that publishers call a "platform."
I Imagine, Therefore I Am
The world began with divine dissatisfaction. In the beginning, God raised a skeptical eyebrow, shook his head and turned his back on all he had made. Blast, bumbling humans. Couldn’t get anything right, could they?
I was born, like any sentient being with a modicum of self-awareness, with the intense desire to meet faces that looked on me with deep, abiding satisfaction.
Is that a big ask, you think? I don’t. Because I believe in this world. First and foremost, I believe.
There. I thought I was done with dogmas and creeds, but there it is: credo ergo sum. I believe, therefore I am, which is (to be more precise) to say: I imagine, therefore I am. I dream, and in the dreaming, I live and move.
The story of a god turned, deity hiding from me because of a condition with which I was born--this myth is no longer working for me. It’s damned us all to eternal wandering--we humans roaming a world that isn’t our home, and our deity skulking forever outside of it.
The story of the wandering Jew has its own historic complications, but at least a material end is in view. A perpetual sense of homelessness is understood as a condition that needs to be changed, and it's external circumstances that cause diaspora. This is a story you can work with. You can envision a better future and work to change external circumstances. You can participate in the transformation of the world.
But I grew up as a wandering evangelical Christian, and here the condition is always internal, a matter of the heart. The problem is always inside you. This story’s supreme dissatisfaction with materiality divested me of agency and the ability to dream. I, along with the rest of the human race, could do nothing to change God’s disgusted expression. It meant that the rare moments in which I did feel at home in myself--the sense of love and connection--these were meant to be rare. Fragments of glory my eyes could not fully see.
It’s a compelling story in many ways, one that tries to account for our own feelings of dissatisfaction with ourselves and our encounters with the rest of the world. But I think we can do better than God holding back because we are unlovable. And as you may already know, some of the central myths of Judaism and Christianity are better stories than this--or at least they can be, depending on how our bodies ingest and assimilate (or react to) them.
It may be foolish to start my own retelling of my story here, lingering under the eye of a disapproving god. But the wound does not disappear even when the mind knows divine dissatisfaction is a fantasy, a point that takes on new meaning when I remember that fantasy is how we inscribe ourselves in reality.
Here, in the heart of the healing wound, I remember that I was and am looked at with pleasure, with love.
Truth is, we never live on just one story at a time. I imbibed many stories at once, stories that contradicted each other, but nonetheless coexisted. Yes, the night is dark and full of terrors--and I’ve not experienced more than a small fraction of them. But the night is also stark and luminous against the deep blue sky. And what’s more is that the night holds in itself infinite possibilities, worlds uncreated.
I believe in these worlds, which is to say I dream of them. My eye is caught by their splendors, all the colors and sensations that I cannot yet see.