Saturday, March 13, 2010

Excerpt from Praying Small

They say it’s impossible to dream your own death. Or to even imagine it. Because we have no
reference. Nothing to compare what it might be like. And, I think, it’s the same with your life.
It’s a crap shoot. It is truly beyond my comprehension when I try and understand the millions,
the billions of casual, random, haphazard choices that make up my presence. Thousands of
years of flipping life’s coin. Heads and then tails and tails again and then heads and heads and
then tails and another tails and a heads and then a tails and on and on and on. Thousands of
years of that. And at the end stands me and my choices, my coin flipping, my random, casual,
haphazard selections. And they all intersect every so often. And then there’s another person.
Another human being, with the same coin flipping and the same casual, random, savage choices
before them. And they have an intersection, too. And then, even more impossible, the
intersections intersect. And before you know it and with hardly a snowball’s chance in Hell of
doing anything about it you’re suddenly in love and married and a father, maybe, and scared
and a drunk and completely, completely, completely clueless. We cannot save ourselves from
this arbitrary, capricious existence. So we pray. And we beg God, the big crossing guard in the
sky, to make our intersections as painless as possible. Please, God, we say, no more. No more.
Please. That’s enough. Just slow me down, God. Slow me down and let me breathe. You don’t
have to help me, God, I’m not asking that—just please, please don’t hinder me. And if we have
any sense left in our heads at all after a lifetime of casual atrocities, accidental monsters and
incidental happiness we scale everything back. We learn to pray small. We understand,
however minutely, what only the very, very wise and enlightened understand: just give me a
few seconds, no, less—a moment, a heartbeat, a blink of peace. Just long enough to know it
exists, just long enough to smile about it. Please. Can you just do that for me today. (Beat.) The
rest I think I can carry a little longer.

See you tomorrow.