You must do things that you normally would not. Particularly if you have never done them before. If you are the slightest bit curious, that is, or think that you should. Or feel that you must.
I’m not going to say why. Just do it. If it doesn’t harm anyone. Take a peek behind those corners, inside those dark closets and basements, and under those stones. Stick your toe in. Take a leap. You just have to.
I did something completely out of character a couple nights ago. Something that I never do. Well, that I haven’t done for a very, very long time. I felt like I should, but I didn’t really want to. Even the thought of it made me feel awkward and uncertain. But strangely, that awkwardness began to bother me in other ways: it should not feel awkward, nor should it make me feel uncertain. And that’s what convinced me over the hump. I decided to do it. I was going to pray.
I know! But I’m telling you, you have to be able to take your own advice. Do something crazy. I told Jeff’s aunt, who seems like this sweet, wonderful lady, that I would pray her hip replacement surgery would go well. It seemed a nice and innocuous thing to do. But it wasn’t long before I wanted to back out of that promise.
But how could I? Backing out of something like that is like killing a butterfly, just to be mean. Not that I would know. Then I thought, well, while I’m it, I guess I’ll throw in some bigger ticket items, like including soldiers and civilians in the prayer, too. It couldn’t hurt, and would give me more bang for the buck.
And as that night wore on, the impending bizarre event loomed heavier and heavier on the near horizon. Why was it was such a big deal? It irritated me that it was a big deal. Was it irrational, being so bothered by something so benign? Was it my rationality that was offended, eliciting an emotional response of dread? That didn’t even make sense. Sure, rationality ought to be dispassionate, but even when it’s not, getting dread from something like having to pray just didn’t make sense. After all, this was simply a task that needed doing. Cut and dried. Matter of fact. But for some reason, it was HUGE. This made no sense.
Eventually it was time. Lights out, cell phone positioned, I took off my clothes and climbed into bed. Eyes closed. Laying on my back. Darkness. Ok. Here we go…
Now, simultaneously and contradictorily, in both hubris and jest, which you Psychologically dominated people are welcome to erroneously interpret as false modesty, I say that a lesser man would have just played with himself and gone to sleep. Nobody would be the wiser, if I just skipped out on this praying thing. Sure, I might have to answer to someone asking questions, but it would be a minor lie. Laying there, considering, I was on the verge of doing just that. But somehow, it sucked me in. I had to do it. I was going to pray. It was just too weird. I had to.
Ok. Wriggle, wriggle. Eyes closed. Dark. Silence.
I become very aware of the Earth at times like this, and our movement through everything out toward the stars — at least in my imagination.
Ok. Pray. Ok… Umm… Ok. Uh… who do I talk to? Where? Do I just think words, or do I speak into the darkness? Ok. I don’t need to speak. Thinking the words would be better. I’m sure he’s psychic. Well, he or she. Or whatever.
But words are so narrow. God has to be way larger than that. I can send him whole big landscapes of thought, instead of just narrow little words. I just can open up everything I am, and broadcast it out there, like an Arecibo made of meat and electricity. I wonder if satellites can pick it up? Damn freaks who go into the military to be voyeurs. Then again, people just broadcast themselves on webcams…
Ok. Wait. A prayer. It’s simple. Just pray for the hip. And not to the Hindu pantheon either, because she’s Christian. Those Hindu gods wouldn’t care about her hip. But why not? But maybe I could be just kinda Hindu-ish and unite with the vibrational energy that permeates the universe and make it flow into her hip toward the future when she’d be in the hospital. Gads, but it might short out the operating room equipment.
Damnit. God. Pray to God. Ok. God. Big guy. Yup. Ok. “Um, hi God,” I thought at Him.
Oh, how stupid is that? The creator of all existence, at all scales, both huge and subatomic and vast, and all the crazy intricacies, and I’m going, “duh. Hi God.” I mean, I can’t just outright talk to him, right? I guess he could have invented English, and speaks it. Or he’s like connected into everything, and I don’t even have to talk, because he knows it all, and made it all.
Damn. Hmm. Well, maybe I can just lay here, and be cosmically connected to him, and he’ll know about the prayer. Yeah. Ok. Deep breath. Focus. God blob. God blob… ok.. like all over the place and around, everywhere. Christ, how do I tell something so huge to make some person’s hip be ok? I mean, if the hip is bad, isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? How arrogant of me to try changing that plan. Or maybe he likes bad things until we beg him to make them good. That’s not very nice. Yeah, that whole problem of Evil existing so prominently. And those weak arguments about free will being the reason for it. Bah!
Man, but that lady’s hip. She seemed so sweet and nice. They’re going to have to slice into her, shatter her hip into pieces, dig it out, and put some synthetic bones back in her. That sucks. I bet lots of people end up going through that. All kinds of nasty, terrible stuff as you get older. And even those soldiers. I wonder how many of those young guys had to get their hips replaced cuz they got blown up? Lucky to be alive I suppose. So many bodies and lives, really. Strangers. I wonder what their stories were like? Never will know now, I guess. Silly young humans. Killing people. Getting killed. With all the conceits and vulnerabilities you see, in same people out here, walking around at a market. People that can kill people. Or get their own bodies ripped open by others.
And it wasn’t long before I found myself lying there, in the Dark, and in the Silence, amazed at all the images and feelings moving through me. I told myself, I’m not there with any of those people — I don’t know know any of them. It doesn’t matter. And it became even more proundly sad. And I found myself wanting, more than anything, for them all to be better. For them to be lifted out of that. To be free.
Stupid prayers. It wasn’t even a prayer. Well, maybe. I don’t know. But I was done. It was no different from, during every day, when you stop all the silliness around you, just to absorb in the world – to let your existence touch you, how it will. Or the existences of others. I don’t want that burden lifted. I need to feel that weight. I need to work to lessen that burden, and not just for myself.
Maybe that’s something God told me, in his language. I wouldn’t presume. Maybe when you pray, you’re not supposed to talk, or ask for things. Maybe you’re supposed to just open up and listen. Maybe our whole lives are supposed to be one, ever-present prayer. Maybe that’s why I felt so awkward, going to ask for something.
I wonder what people ask for, in their prayers. Or if they even pray, just to pray. Just to listen.
I guess I don’t know how to pray any more. Or I can’t. I tried, though. And I heard something really huge. And I am still really, really sad.