25 April 2013

Paper-doll hero

Sometimes I feel like a half-cooked sunny-side-up baked in the pan without any butter. You know, when it never gets to the yolk and the whites got the living daylights sizzled out of them, one half running like the Nile turned to blood and the other half fried to a crisp like the planet Mercury, and the proverbial sun sets on the scarred, scorched battlefield of egg-whites and sporadically distributed bodies of pepper.

Sometimes I feel like that.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, will ask themselves the most dangerous question in all of existence. The question is inescapable. You can't prevent it any more than you can help waking up, remembering that you went to bed last night with the absurd hope that the problem would be gone in the morning. The question is this: Is there any hope in the world? Is there?

It's a dangerous question, because the answer is either yes or no.

If no, you're an Orual in a world full of Oruals, so ugly you can't even bear to see your own face, or the face of anyone else. You're a Gene Forrester in a world of Gene Forresters, living under the pretense of friendship only to somehow prove to yourself and everyone else that the world revolves around you. You're a Katniss Everdeen in an arena full of self-loving Katniss Everdeens, loving exclusively for your own happiness and fighting exclusively for your own survival. There is no beautiful Psyche, there is no uninhibited Phineas, there is no selfless Peeta. There are no heroes. So see you in hell.

If yes, here's the problem. You're not the hero. You're the damsel in distress. You've gotta fall into your savior's arms like a helpless baby, like Andromeda, like a prodigal son, sobbing and begging for mercy. But that's not the part that sucks. The part that sucks is that He actually gives you the mercy you beg for.

Milton nailed the core of human nature in one line: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." Who wants to be ugly Orual? We'd rather be someone else's Psyche, even if that someone else is the devil. We're Gollums who would be more consoled if the entire world was made miserable than if we ourselves were made happy.

Any good writer knows that creating a convincing villain rarely requires any research beyond their own skin. But to defeat the villain, you've gotta search deep and wide, picking up fragmented goodness wherever you can find it and stitching it together to create your paper-doll hero. But no one is really cooked all the way through in real life--they're cracked at one end and runny at the other, so you just have to scrape them off the pan and make the most of what you've got.

I guess that's the whole point of art, or the whole point of anything, stitching together goodness that doesn't seem to exist.

I mean, as if you could make the darkness go away simply by singing a song.
As if you could climb over a mountain simply by saying "I think I can, I think I can."
As if you could be banished to the attic and live in opulence simply by imagining you were a little princess.
As if you could be healed from a fatal disease simply by reaching out and touching the hem of the cloak of Jesus Christ...
As if, as if...

What if we are not fabricating paper-doll heroes because there is no hope left in the world, but because the answer to the most dangerous question in all of existence has been and always will be an absolute and immutable YES?

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