Monday, August 1, 2011

The Man Who Should Never Have Existed

There was once a man who realized that when he thought about it, really and truly, he never should have existed. Surely there had been some mistake made somewhere along the way for him to have even come into this world at all. He contributed nothing. He found no joy or meaning in the world around him. He felt like nothing more than a waste of space. And so he took it upon himself to try to find God, or an angel, or someone with some authority who might listen to his reasoning and perhaps do him the courtesy of erasing him out of existence entirely.

But God was elusive... very difficult to track down. The places that seemed to advertise His presence the most were often least likely to actually play host to Him. And when the man did seem to see God, it was always vaguely and at a distance, and it never lasted long enough to form the words. There was always prayer, as the reverends and ministers and priests and rabbis all reminded him. Send your plea up to heaven like a free-verse poem recited ever so sincerely to the ceiling. But the man wanted a face to face consultation, wanted to talk in person and get this thing hammered out once and for all. So he kept looking, and time after time he came up empty handed.

"There is really no reason for me to be here," he thought over and over again, and he knew in his heart of hearts that it was true. If God would not act, he would have to do something about this problem of existence himself, though what that might be he did not know. But with time the idea came to him. These moments, these hours and days should never have been his. If he could not scrub them out of history entirely, at the very least he could try to give them away. The comfort and safety he felt, the objects he possessed, his good health and relative prosperity-if it was impossible for him to negate these things on an existential level, at the very least he could get rid of them by sharing what he could with others who might make better use of it.

So he gave his time, his money, his things, his kindness and good intentions. He poured out as much of himself as he could hoping in the end there would be nothing left. But a curious thing happened... The more he tried to get rid of himself, the more he gave away, the more solid and firmly rooted in this world he became. Rather than turning him invisible or rendering him an empty shell, this new generosity of spirit and action seemed to have given him something of a purpose, a reason for existing. He was by no means whole or complete, and yet he could hardly argue anymore that he shouldn't be here. For there were many now who depended on his kindnesses who would surely miss him if he were gone. It was these people and their unlikely love and respect for him that acted like strings tying him down to the earth where before he had nearly floated away.

"I still don't feel like there's a reason," he is often known to say aloud. And maybe he's right. I don't know enough about time and space and the universe to understand everything about fate and destiny, design and order, plans and purposes. Who can really say for sure? But maybe we become each other's reasons. Maybe I tie you to this earth just as you tie me to it. Maybe we keep each other from disappearing completely.

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