The never played symphonies

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Damien Chazelle’s La La Land

It’s not trying to say that life is a musical, quite the contrary.

At its core, it’s an exposition on mundane complexities that sometimes derail the more fantastical aspects of our existence. I got that from Stone prancing around in a cute one-piece? Not quite. Look behind those enchanting eyes, there is a lot of life hidden in there somewhere. Not life as a choral accompaniment, but life as we know it, a stubborn dirty fighter that never backs down.

Perhaps I’ve digressed. The reality is that life is not a regulated sport. It does not conform to agreed precepts and it isn’t always required to reimburse what it intentionally or unintentionally robbed you of. We sling around cliche proclamations like ‘life is unfair’ while thinking about that frail old lady down the street who got hurt simply because a pair of irresponsible youths decided she would be an easy target on an unassuming needy night.

But what about those abhorring decisions we have to make sometimes? The ones that eventually results in the death of something precious in your existence? What about those? The ones that punish you for doing what you have to do. Not quite so easy to wave those away with a lazy blanket statement.

I used to appeal figuratively to an ethics committee, demanding to know why I was penalised for essentially doing the right thing. Isn’t it supposed to be likened to a mathematical equation? That if I sum the right parts I would be guaranteed the intended eventuality. I was forcefully dealt those cards in some instances, not that I went looking for a poker table. The committee had a moral obligation to absolve me. Otherwise we would descent into absolute anarchy, right?

That’s before I realised that one of the biggest fundamental mistakes we make about life is that we often assume it plays on your team, albeit occasionally uncooperative and disruptive but a teammate nonetheless. The truth is, it does not. It doesn’t even play for the opposition. It just moves around with little consideration for you and whatever reward or destruction you reap is largely accidental.

The day I came to that realisation was a cold and lonely one …

 

 

The opposite of hallelujah

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Church of the Good Shepherd, NZ. Tourists just out of view.

If we deconstruct out existences down to a series of processes, then most of us would agree that some of ours are run with a great deal of inefficiency.

Better decisions could be made if we were afforded even a hint of what was down the road. Whether it’s that job loss a week after you bought a new car, that market crash in six month’s time, that lovely girl you are going to meet a year later and how you are shitting over that by chasing every skirt you see today, humans are really like rubber duckies dropped into a wild river, smashing uncontrollably against the banks, unable to hold on to anything and completely unaware of what fate is waiting at the end of the waters.

I’ve taken this issue with God more than once, demanding that He explain to me why He can’t just reach His whizz-like pinky down here and fix this bug. I’ve thrown tantrums over what I perceive to be just inefficient management on His part. That with a well-designed Excel sheet and a few clipboards, He could have my life purring like a vintage engine.

The truth is, most of us treat God like a consultant, someone whose agenda and objective is to achieve process nirvana, to poka-yoke-the heck out of the intricacies of our existences so that we slip not, waste not.

But God really does not behave like a consultant. His purpose isn’t for us to operate our lives flawlessly and with optimum efficiency. If that was really the purpose, then He could simply zap us with the ability of aforementioned foresight, boot temptations out the door and endow us with impeccably strategic minds before dusting His hands off and sitting down for a pina colada (virgin, of course).

Instead He really behaves more like a teacher, or at least the way teachers are supposed to. There is no intended end-product at the end of the production line, because it’s all about guiding you through a process. How much you get out of it depends on your willingness to listen and how intentionally you apply that knowledge to the process. What we want out of God is for Him to just hand us the exam questions because really, that is the most efficient way to get us where we need to be. But we would never stand for a teacher that did that, so perhaps we should start looking at God in the same way and not expect Him to play cheat.

I am cognisant about how this looks to skeptics, that a supposedly omnipotent God that seemingly allows you to barrel into any eventuality really sounds a lot like that God does not exist. But isn’t that the definition of what faith is, to swim into vicious waters instead of staying dry on the comforting shores of logical reasoning?

I chose faith a long time ago, and I really don’t quit easily.