Saturday, August 14, 2010

Glitter and the Empty Hollow


I went to Las Vegas this week and was amazed and dazzled by the incredible creativity and talent that has gone into creating it. It is a brilliant and fascinating place.

I'm sure that many people get a deep sense of the vanity of things while they are there. Ubiquitous offers for lifeless female affection litter the sidewalks. The promise of easy money leads to empty wallets and empty souls.

I spent time in the Titanic exhibit in the Luxor and marinated in the finality of it all. Every survivor of that disaster has now met his inevitable death.

I love Las Vegas for its genius. There is nothing uniquely vain about it. It is simply a window into the hollowness of things in general. The world has its beauty, but it cannot satisfy our needs. We need something further.

Las Vegas was wonderfully apolitical in the sense that people are there to get away from political issues. I saw no politically-charged "cause" shirts while there. Thank goodness. I weary of it.

Coming home after avoiding the news quickly brought all of the negativity of our ephemeral and hostile world back into my consciousness. Politics in our country and in the world is becoming increasingly unpleasant. But politics has always been unpleasant. Indeed, I am an unexceptional part of this process. Am I all those evil things that conservatives are constantly accused of being? I used to get angry about these accusations. I have heard them so often that now I grow bored of them. Am I racist? Anti-science? Bigoted? I need a vacation. Oh, crap. I just finished it.

Would that we could know what all of this is supposed to mean. So many think they are so sure. I totally understand the motivation for that.

Those without this certainty say that it's the journey, not the destination. That's adorable. But what does one do when he despairs of finding the destination? I suppose one ought to gather his reserves and continue to plow on in the hope that even the mere outlines of a destination will feed his soul, if he can just glimpse them.

And so I look forward to returning to Las Vegas and spending time in the Titanic once again. Perhaps God can be found in there, suffering with us, calling to us in the empty hollow with the hope of a beautiful unknown something toward which we constantly strive.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To Taste the Sugar, Not To Be It


"Can water quaff itself?
Can trees taste of the fruit they bear?
He who worships God must stand distinct from Him,
So only shall he know the joyful love of God;
For if he say that God and he are one,
That joy, that love, shall vanish instantly away.
Pray no more for utter oneness with God:
Where were the beauty if jewel and setting were one?
The heat and the shade are two,
If not, where were the comfort of shade?
Mother and child are two,
If not, where were the love?
When after being sundered, they meet,
What joy do they feel, the mother and child!
Where were joy, if the two were one?
Pray, then, no more for utter oneness with God." —Tukaram