Tuesday, January 14, 2003  

Dialogue with the Deity – Short Circuiting The Master Plan

I am well past the point of disputing or trivializing God. I guess you could say I learned my lesson. And this lesson, or lessons to be more accurate, didn’t arrive packaged in crisis or trauma. I didn’t have some major life event that caused me to get right with my spirituality and stop using my powers of influence and comedy to torment the religious world view of simple Christians. For me, God was in the little things.

Nature has too much symmetry, too much symbiosis and, I dare say, too much logic to be just the random birth and death of billions of independent and disconnected microcosms. Einstein is credited with saying that God is in the details…I am credited with knowing exactly what he meant.

So He and I talk from time to time. Our conversations usually center on me and how I’d appreciate satisfying all my worldly wants with as little effort as possible. He thinks I am a funny guy. I know this because he plays little practical jokes on me from time to time to let me know he is not beyond the occasional humor. Things like flat tires, speeding tickets, and flights that I am on having near-misses upon take off with small commuter planes. You know…things that scare the water out of you when they happen but then you smile this huge smile because you realize that the Big Guy (that’s what I call him) was just screwing with you.

Kelly was in Paris this past week. She went to Paris and London for a quick trip with a friend. Truth be known, I’d rather be the one on the leaving end of the equation. I miss her when I am away but it is nothing like when she goes and I am home alone, just me and my dogs who, even with their limited intellect, have no doubt that she is the driving force of the house and gives our home a soul. As far as they are concerned my total contribution to the home life is paying the water bill.

When she is gone my obsessive mind cannot help but think about the worst possible scenarios. I start to imagine things how they’d be without her. I try to stretch this uncomfortable time from the temporary thing it is to the permanent thing it could be if the Big Guy decided to take a joke too far. If the Big Guy decided that the commuter planes didn’t need to miss this time. So I ring Him up and tell Him we need to talk.

I tell Him about her value to me and what she means to my master plan. He laughs at this because, by comparison, my master plan and His master plan are not in league with one another. In fact, at the same time we are having dialogue about my neurotic fears, He is monitoring the situation in the middle east, watching over the new GM for the Red Sox and his personnel decisions (the losing ways of the Red Sox being a little joke he plays on a lot of us), and billions upon billions of other situations, happenings, and potential happenings.

He tells me to relax, that it is largely out of His hands. Sure He plays the flat tire gag sometimes, and the fast changing red light, that’s him too. But, he said, when it comes to the ugly behaviors of the depraved or chance collisions of commercial air transports…it’s not Him. Only occasionally will He get involved in “that side of the business”. This doesn’t inspire confidence, I tell Him. I say that the idea that He is the Captain of this garbage scow of insufferable humanity is what makes the whole thing work. To this He just sighs like He’s heard it all before. Then something came up in Katmandu that required His attention so He had to go.

Before He left He asked me if I knew statistics. I told him I knew my way around a Relative Frequency Histogram, yes. He said that was not what He meant. He wanted to know if I understood the concept that some go and some stay. That some live and some die and it was all part of that amazing and logical and symbiotic thing I called nature. That there is a great hand of statistical inevitability and it glides over the face of humanity causing some to fall and others to be left standing. It was a game of numbers where certain conditions needed to be satisfied for the game to keep trucking along.

Knowing the situation in Katmandu could disintegrate at any moment I fired off one last question. I asked if it was all resting on statistics, if it was all just a matter of right and wrong places at right and wrong times, then what about His will. What about this master plan. He asked me what I would say if he told me that it was His will for Kelly not to come home. The dogs would have to expand their definition of me beyond water bills and the purchasing of kibble. I told him that it would affect our relationship. He said I didn’t answer His question. I told Him that if He told me Kelly wasn’t coming home I would tell him to change it. I would say to let her come home. He asked what if that wasn’t His will. I said, you’re God (I call him that sometimes, too), change your will.

As He left He said that’s why there are statistics. It helps Him to not be the one that will choose. It helps Him watch the big stuff and the little things…namely we people…will take care of themselves. We live on with our own wills and our own cautions and whatever bits of luck and chance and skill we can paste together into our own survival. He said it just works that way. It always has.

With his voice almost not audible anymore He asked me about my grandfather who died in a plane crash when my father was only 13. That plane crash is the single biggest factor that made my eventual existence possible. If the plane wouldn’t have crashed then they would have not left Hawaii and my father would not have met my mother and…you get the idea. He said that if He gave my grandmother the choice to trade the grandchildren and the future for her husband she would choose the husband 10 times out of 10. He said that’s why we don’t get to choose. Because our wants throw the whole system totally out of whack and what ends up happening is just as right as what could happen if the numbers fell a different way.

Kelly’s flight from Europe landed at 3:02 pm yesterday and pulled into gate B33. When she walked out of the customs area I gave her a big hug and thanked that statistical power, with its sweeping hand, that she was still standing. Over by the vending machines I saw God hiding behind a trash can trying not to be seen. He said that what happens in Katmandu happens in Europe happens in Texas and it all has to do with the numbers. Besides, He said, what the hell was I so worried about…He had it on good authority that she is going to outlive me by a comfortable margin. I told him would He change it if she asked and He said it was out of his hands.

When we got out to the truck I fully expected a flat tire, but all four were fine. Enough lessons had been learned that day and needn’t be punctuated with Jokes from The Big Guy.

posted by Mike | 12:50 PM
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