AN EXAMINED LIFE
March 14, 1999
I recently got an email from a 17 year old. She asked, "If we all question our existence, what is the point of living?"
The question has been plaguing me for about a week. You see, about all I do is question existence, although not always mine. I wasn't always like this. At one point I didn't question anything. At one point, I was a friggin' genius and knew what was best for me, my friends, my family, and international celebrities. I knew that this world would be a much better and saner place to live if "They" would simply see the light and follow my lead.
I was about 17, maybe 19, at the most and I have never been so smart and put together since. I'm 31 now and I'm closer to a dribbling idiot in Depends Undergarments than I am to that brilliant and confident teenager I was. I course I'm also sober, monogomous and paying my own bills.
So, last Monday (never a good day to question anything) Leslie and I decided to try a new restaurant we read about in one of the four-thousand magazines that appear in our mailbox. I wonder about these periodicals because the only one I've ever paid for is Mother Jones, and I hardly ever see that one.
There we were driving around under freeways trying to figure out where the restaurant was. Let me make this perfectly clear: I knew without a doubt, no question in my mind, that the address was in the 800's. I could see the little numbers in my mind's eye and it definitely began with a great big, glaring eight.
Leslie, lunatic that she is, thought it was around the 200's. Poor misguided child.
I was driving so we headed towards the eights. She kept on yammering about me being wrong and she thought she'd seen it before and she'd never been on this part of the street because we always turn on Broadway which is at least three blocks back... She just kept going on and on.
The truth slowly crept upon me and bit me on the behind. We were passing transmission shops and odd-smelling import/export places. No restaurants, not even funky-trendy-pretentious-artsy ones built into the side of an old sausage factory.
I started to get angry. I wanted to be right. I needed to be right and damn-it was going to be right if it killed me, Leslie and some of the wino's hanging around the corner.
"God, I've been an agnostic all my life." I started to yell, shaking my fist and the car ceiling. "This could really sway things in your favor."
Leslie looked over at me and said, "Let me get this straight. You are praying for God to move the restaurant?" Sometimes my behavior still surprises her but it takes a lot.
Sure, when she said it like that it seemed petty and ridiculous but in my mind it seemed perfectly reasonable. There are enough rules and regulations in all religions to make it obvious that God has a give-and-take attitude. I think he'd make a great businessman or negotiator.
"Okay Mr. Murphy, you give me your soul and live by these rules and I promise that after you die the real fun is going to begin!" Isn't that the idea behind all of Christianity? I don't think that moving one very small business would be a big a deal. After all, there is that whole Red Sea incident magnificently illustrated by Disney.
We had reached a dead end and there was no restaurant in sight. I was wrong. Leslie was right. I turned the car around and headed back toward the restaurant.
"O.K.. I think I made myself clear, God. I was willing to put all my faith into your hands but no, you couldn't move one little restaurant! That's it, I'm giving my soul to the other side!"
Leslie sat, looking placidly out the window. "I think it's going to be after Broadway but before Jackson."
I often wonder if Leslie has an internal life to explore. Perhaps she is the perfect Taoist master and is here on earth to teach me to live in the moment and enjoy it all, including the bumps that are going to happen. Either that or she's here to drive me over the edge into a lathering state of incoherence.
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Copyright 1999 by Laura Jiménez.