I Want the Fire Back


Prologue My dear gentle-readers, My mundane existence has been shamefully un-publiscized as of late, and for that, I say, you’re welcome. Unfortunately, my therapeutic writing sessions are now back with a vengeance. To those of you who are groaning and closing their browser windows, I offer my sincere condolences, and I say, live long and suck it. I’m back. Live with it. Have a nice day. There are other things on the internet- believe me, I understand. To those of you who are actually reading this, I say, you’re very kind people and you deserve cookies. Ahem. Moving on.
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.     —Dawn Summers

 

Not to carry its weight on your shoulders, not to escape it, not to save it, but simply to live in it. To accept your impotence and watch the cruel juxtaposition of suffering and opulence all around you and do what you can and be okay because you really and truly believe that God is taking care of us. You believe it, even as you look out and see genocide and hunger and war and poverty and Jersey Shore and are completely powerless. Thanks, but I’d much rather go on carrying this cross down this lonely winding country road and screw the chiropractor because this backache is nothing compared to the heartache of being utterly powerless in the face of injustice. But maybe, one day, when I grow up… I’ll be brave enough, strong enough, to lay down my burden and trust in God. Someday. Someday when things are better.

But I’ve been mostly happy this summer. Mostly. I’ve pushed my feelings about the mess the world is in to the back of my mind and enjoyed my new upper-middle class spoiled-ness. I fenced as much as possible. And watched Buffy when I couldn’t. And in the few moments where I was forced to be alone with my thoughts, I cried. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that in an imperfect world, all acts of pure goodness are equal. That there is no way to change things in a big way. That I can’t be Buffy. Even Buffy couldn’t really save the world. She could prevent its impending destruction by supernatural forces, but she couldn’t save us from war and poverty and all the natural forces of destruction we create for ourselves. We don’t all have the luxury of living on the Hellmouth where we can use our superpowers to fulfill our need for a sense of purpose every day. Some of us have to be human. Some of us have to go to school or to work and work as hard as we can because maybe, just maybe, we’ll get somewhere and then if we work even harder from that point, we’ll get somewhere better, and maybe, just maybe, when we get there we’ll be able to help someone else. And, as Anya so eloquently says, “we have no purpose that unites us, so we just drift around, blundering through life until we die, which we know is coming, yet every single one of us is surprised when it happens to them. We’re incapable of thinking about what we want beyond the moment. We kill each other, which is clearly insane… and yet here’s the thing. When it’s something that really matters, we fight. I mean, we’re lame morons for fighting, but we do! We never… we never quit.” But do we really never quit? When the cameras are off and we’re out of character and the writers are at home sipping tea and we’re just living our lives, don’t we sometimes give up? Even when it really matters? Isn’t that why the world is and always will be the way it is? Because we’re lame morons for fighting, and we know it. Because we could always be reading the internets instead of striving for some lost cause like idiots. Because that makes more sense.

And just when it seemed all was lost...

But it isn’t about making sense. Being human involves many things, but making sense is not one of them. How do you explain the thrill of fighting for a lost cause? Why is it that when we know we’re going to lose, we take that much more pleasure out of frustrating our opponent? Why does every bead of sweat on his brow feel like a medal, and every touch we score feel like a winning a war and not a battle? (I’m sorry, am I speaking Fencer again?) Humanity is a beautifully twisted thing. You see, we all have this little flickering bit of innocence somewhere deep down inside of us, and when things get really, really bad; when we reach the final battle scene, it leads us out onto the field and arms us with something that is either faith or delusion- but either way it’s frakking powerful. Why should it matter that it takes literal impending doom to ignite the flames of innocence in most of us? Why shouldn’t those of us who can see the urgency of injustice and all the worlds that need saving wield the swords of compassion-albeit clumsily- and take on the whole world?  I may be alone, but as long as I can see suffering around me, I will walk through the gosh-darn fire for my fellow humans, even if all I can save is one measly scrap of happiness for someone else. Even if it means going to grad school.* Which I really do not want to do.

*This is PSAT anxiety talking- I’m thinking way farther ahead than is necessary or possible because I have no tangible goal in sight and that is what caused me to need to write myself this motivational speech. I don’t even know what I’m going to major in yet. Granted, I’m a sophomore in high school. I just don’t know what I’m getting through high school for, exactly. How is this a step farther in the direction of opening a foster home? And high school is not something one can screw up the willpower to get through just for the fancy diploma. It needs to fit into the master plan. But anyway.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Fencing Bear said,

    You are training yourself for the things that you cannot yet forsee. But you are already wiser than you realize. (Imagine here a fencer’s salute.). Excellent rant. Thank you.

  2. 3

    Dana said,

    I was reflecting yesterday that Doctor Who provides excellent role models for dealing with accidentally saving Hitler’s life, or naming your daughter after herself, but not so good ones for living real life. So yeah, the Buffy example generalizes to a great deal of popular culture.

  3. 4

    aliceling said,

    Well, yeah. I just used Buffy because it is my most recent addiction in the world of geekdom. But shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who do also convey a lot of true, practical morals and provoke a lot of deep thought- and that’s what makes me such a geek about the things that I love. And what Doctor Who does is provide a totally awesome solution to every possible problem… it’s just that that solution unfortunately doesn’t actually exist… much as I enjoy pretending it does.


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