I’m going to be honest here. I’m having a crisis of faith.
I used to able to say, at the end of the day, that life is good; that despite everything, there is always love, and that love is the purest good. But somewhere in the span of the last few weeks, I have been thoroughly shaken. Perhaps life is not good nor bad, but simply is; neutral; a series of events that occur in a chain, one after another after another. Maybe things just happen, randomly, without reason. And if I don’t believe that life is good on purpose, what does that mean for how I see the world? Myself? My faith?
It is luck alone that I am where I am; that I was born here, that I have what I have. It is not of my doing, nor is it some divine miracle specific to me. I’ve always understood that. The fact that I am lying here, an arm’s reach away from my beloved and from my heart, that I am not swept away by a tsunami, or burned in a nuclear fire, or swallowed by an earthquake - that I am not a refugee fleeing for my life - it is not fair. I have not been chosen, I am not special, not in any way more or less valuable than any other creature on this earth. But somehow, I get this. I get all of this joy and warmth and safety. And where before I was able to understand that there is a spectrum of experience - negative and positive - and there has to be one in order for life to be full, suddenly it feels a profoundly hollow explanation for mothers and fathers to be watching their children drown. And then, isn’t any explanation for such a thing profoundly hollow?
So I am stuck wondering whether, despite my best efforts at self-awareness and empathy, I was only fooling myself. Have I really been saying that life is good because life is good to me? Can life still be good if it isn’t good for everyone? Can it still be good when have been torn to pieces, when you have seen your beloved die, when you have had no choice but to do so in order to save your life?
But then I also have to wonder - what is it about life that is worth saving, that one will endure all of these things to try to save it? The answer must be love, right? I know it when I look into my daughter’s eyes, and it is not easy nor light, as I wish it could be. It is so, so heavy. It shackles me, and is my destiny. I understand this: love sustains life because you cannot do anything but serve it.
Perhaps I am having this crisis because I am a mother now. There is so much more at stake. I know what I have, and I know the utterly paralyzing fear that comes at even the thought of losing it. I can no longer explain away contradictions to the idea that life is good, claiming that there is a divine balance, that it will all be okay, because I know it is not that simple. Instead, I have to hope that whether it is ultimately good, bad, or neutral, it’s not the point. That maybe it is not about life itself, as I once thought, but rather, about us. And realize that, despite everything that happens to us, there is something fundamental about living that makes us want to keep doing it so badly that we survive.
Because we do survive. Despite everything, people do it every single day. And isn’t that a miracle in its own right?
What, then, should I impart to my daughter while I am grappling with these big questions? Maybe all I can say is that life might not be good on its own, but that we can be. That we have to bring goodness as best we can, while knowing it won’t wipe away the tragedies of the world. Maybe the purpose is to try. I don’t know, really. Maybe all we can do is love the best we can, in the hardest of circumstances, and hope that it is enough.