20 November, 2008

Progress Report: Holy Shit, Look at the Time!


I love my job for one reason: we have a health clinic. I took advantage of same today because one of my tonsils insisted on catching the latest ick and my glands are swelling to the size of kumquats, which doesn't sound like much until you look in the mirror and realize that, compared to the size of the average human neck, that's huge. In the interests of not having things explode and thus derail NaNoMadNess, I decided it was time for drugs.

This does have something to do with NaNo. I'm getting there.

So, after handing me the blessed antibiotics, John the medical guy asks me, "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" I told him about NaNo. His eyes got larger than my glands. He stared at me for a moment, repeated, "Fifty thousand words?" and then reached for a calculator and a calendar. Hilarity ensued as he calculated what I have to pull out in order to make the deadline: 2,500 words per day from now to the bitter end.

I don't think he really believed me when I told him I've crossed the finish line when I was running further behind before. Seriously. Ten thousand word weekends aren't impossible. Keep that in mind, all of you who are running behind and starting to panic. We've got two weekends left, and we're going to do this thing.

Even with glands the size of kumquats.

Tonight, I had an entirely too delightful time, and have thus nearly reached the peak o' the mountain. If I didn't have to go to bed in order to survive work tomorrow, I probably wouldn't. Here's one of my favorite bits from tonight:

Of course there is. You're just not in a position to see it.

We're going to spend some time on this one, because it seems to be such a sticking point for many Christians. I know people who have deep doubts, who are on the verge of giving up the faith that's making them miserable, but won't because they believe that without God, there's no meaning or purpose in life. Evolution without an Executive Director terrifies them. The idea that we're all accidents of fate, that there's no ultimate reason for our existence, is appalling to them. They can't handle it. They don't understand how we can.

Both they and the deeply religious constantly demand us to answer the question: "But without God, how can life have any purpose? How can you make sense of anything that happens?"

Let's begin with a parable.

There's an old Welsh tale of a house haunted by an evil spirit, so dire that no one could even approach the place. A wise old woman heard of it and decided something needed to be done. She took a candle and her misal and went to spend the night.

Surrounded by darkness, sitting in a pool of light, she eventally came face-to-face with the demon. Cool old eyes gazed steadfastly into burning, hateful ones.

"Woman, your faith is in that candle flame," it sneered.

"Demon, you lie," the old woman said, and calmly put the candle out, plunging them both into utter darkness lit only by those raging red eyes. She never flinched. Defeated, the demon vanished, and has not returned to this day.

You say to me that the only purpose in life is in that candle flame. I've blown it out, yet purpose remains. That's why I've told you this story.

(No, I don't think you're a demon. It's just an awesome story, and other than the fact that you're not a demon, it illustrates my point very well.)

When I blew out the candle flame, it was dark, at first. But I looked up, and there was a night sky blazing with stars. Everywhere I look, there's purpose. Meaning shines out from everything. Where does it come from, if it doesn't come from God?

From us.
From there, I'm ashamed to admit, I babbled like a brook. But hey, right now we're after quantity rather than quality. One thing that will absolutely stay, though, is that old Welsh story. I've always loved that story, and I'm pleased it fits so well here. Or so I like to think.

I also hit the nihilist myth, which if you really want me to, I'll post as a special bonus over the weekend. It's snarky goodness, if I do say so myself.

Time just flew by tonight, but now it's time for me to fly. As always, thoughts, snark and suggestions in comments, should the mood strike you.


Woozle said...

Yes. I, for one, would like to hear Dana have a go at nihilism. But please don't do anything that might hinder progress towards NaNoNirvana. I can wait for publication if needed.

Cujo359 said...

Each life has whatever purpose that person gives it. If you choose to make it someone else's purpose, that's your choice. Personally, I prefer to find my own.

Karen said...

So why, when you tell the story, do you include the "misal" (I assume you mean missal, a traditional book of Catholic prayers). It doesn't add to the story (well, except for a couple of extra words).

Perhaps old Welsh ladies carry them around to whup demons upside the head with when all else fails, sort of a preindustrial Smack-O-Matic.

JeffreyD said...

Darling Dana,

Take care of your health, dear girl. I want the book done, but I enjoy your posts very much. Juice, some whiskey, some lemon, drugs and hugs.

Ciao - JeffreyD