by Ed Singer
My youthful overconfidence turns to a spiritual revelation in less than a mile's walk.
| It was a typical weekday night. Or weekend, I'm not quite sure. The days sort of blend together after a while, but statistically speaking it was most likely a weekday.
Myself and Erica were just leaving Chili's after having had a nice late-night snack there. Earlier that evening, I had come to the conclusion that I have an addiction to reefer, which isn't so bad, when you think about it. There are far worse things to be addicted to. As we walked out the door, I turned to Erica and told her that having no "real problems" is the most wonderful feeling in the world. She gave me a funny look, a look of confusion, so I elaborated. All the problems that we have, her and I, all the things that cause us stress, none of these are real. The inability to feed onself, the lack of shelter; these are Real Problems. Everything we worried about, for example her debt to her parents or my self-diagnosed addictiton, weren't something we needed to get stressed over, but we do anyway because we don't have anything real to cause us stress. You know, Real Problems.
Opening the car door, I lock eyes with Erica before she gets in the passenger's side and say, "I am twenty-one years old, and I am invincible."
Sure, I didn't mean it entirely, just that nothing truly bad could happen to me. I'm still young, and my mind and body are still in their prime. I could see it in her eyes that she believed me when I said it, if only for a moment. In that same moment, I think I even believed it too.
And then it happened.
When I put the key in the ignition, the damn thing didn't turn. I tried again, no luck. Realizing the massive irony brought on by my statement only moments ago, I began to laugh. It was nervous laughter, but loud and powerful nonetheless, the kind of laugh that comes from the belly. Soon this laughter turned to a brief panic. Recounting to a couple years in the past, the automobile I previously owned had the same problem, a broken tumbler, at around the same amount of mileage. For a moment, this little issue seemed very real to me, but this feeling lasted only a split second. I remembered that Erica's car was in the Market Basket parking lot barely a mile away. All I had to do was walk the distance and bring it back. Had this not been the case, either of our houses were not much more than five miles in either direction. Not a problem for my youthful body and the almost-invincibility it comes with.
So I began walking along the Turnpike in my shoes not built for trekking. I looked up at the sky, and began apologizing to God for pretending to be invincible. Whether or not He was listening is of little consequence, I just felt the need to say sorry for trying to claim something only an all-powerful being has the right to. I continued on with my repentance, letting the stars and the clouds know I have no right to claim omnipotence, no right to claim omniscience, no right to take a life, et cetera.
Underneath the bridge where US Rte 3 crosses above the Middlesex Tpk., I heard the sound of cars driving along at sixty, maybe seventy miles per hour, engines roaring as they zoomed above me. Being underneath the bridge, I felt the vibrations from each one. Vibrations from these spectacular machines, capable of moving faster than any living thing on land. Or rather, capable of making Man faster than any other living thing on land. And these people, racing along at a speed our legs were never built to sustain, at an unnaturally high velocity, these people are still humble before God, among other things. Even the men who invented the automobile, the men who invented the paved road and the highway system, the men responsible for the Turnpike along which I was walking, and the massive concrete bridge above me that blocked out the night sky from my point of view, these men were also humble before God. As are the kings, the presidents, the figureheads of governing states. No man is above or equal to Him.
If my understanding is correct, God created Man, and everything else, basically. Everything that has been created by Man, was conceived by minds and built by hands of which God had been the architect. Which is to say, your mind and your hands can create Things of their own, but God designed those hands and that mind. Which is to say,anything you achieve, you owe it to God.
Which is to say, no matter how far you go or how big you get, you ain't shit.
Now, I'm not saying you have to give your livelihood to an Anglo-Saxon religion, or pledge your thanks to The Big Man before sitting down and eating, or even believe in Him at all. I'm still on the fence about the whole thing, but I'll say this: if God exists, this is part of what it's all about. Humility.