many layers deep, is the same kid I was when I was 18, or 15, or 12, or 7 years old. It hardly seems possible—so many things have happened since then, so much water has passed—yet it must be. People are people, they are who they are, they are born, they travel through life, and they die, we know this because we are them, we experience it for ourselves; it is what has happened to you and it is what is happening to me.
I am married. I have a dog and I live in New York and I will earn a Ph.D. before too long and become a professor. I think about having children. I have written six books and am a professional writer. I drive a Volvo and have a bookshelf full of sociology books. Is this who I am? As someone with something of a materialist bent theoretically, this all must be who I am, I suppose.
I have friends that are growing up along with me. We don’t get to talk as much as we could. Some of this is my fault, for being too busy and too inaccessible and maybe just a little bit too caught up in my own very comfortable world. Some of it is just circumstance and the differences in life practice that emerge between people. I’m an emailer, it’s almost the only way to get ahold of me other than sitting in the same room together, but maybe they aren’t. I don’t know. It’s habit, I’ve been emailing since I was ten years old, all around the world. But in any case, they’re growing up along with me.
They’re living in states I hadn’t ever even thought about as a kid and doing very adult things that are so far outside the realm of anything I could have ever imagined that it shocks me even now when I can imagine them.
Adulthood is a strange and unfathomable thing. Life paths are a strange and fathomable thing that wind all over the globe, twisting their way through a history that is itself always evolving and always materializing in the form of unfathomable things. An internetworked world? The end of the cold war? The collapse of the American economy? These things could not have been understood even if they had been predicted.
The future is itself a deity, inscrutable and all-powerful, able to manufacture a reality akin to magic—a reality that dominates, that transforms worlds, that creates the heavens and the Earth for all those who are destined afterward to live in and on them.
I don’t know. I don’t know much. I have no answers for God, to God, or about God. I am not particularly interested in God, or rather, the term is just a bit too efficient for me in describing the infinite nuance and shock and memory that comprise being and identity.
I didn’t set out to be a philosopher, but that is more or less what I am attempting to become professionally. After living for 32 years, I really can’t see how it can be otherwise, for anyone. Anyone who reaches 32 years and isn’t a philosopher in some way or other hasn’t been paying attention and is beyond salvation.
Salvation itself, of course, is marked by signposts along the way. Pause at any of them for a moment and you can catch the corresponding mode of transit that will carry you all the way to the end of your story in glassy, structured shelter. But salvation or no, you will get there in the end.
Just where “there” is remains absolutely indeterminate. It is, as they have always said, a matter of a journey. Dammit this is all banal. And yet it’s really impossible for life to be banal, I suspect. After all, it’s yours, and you’ve never had another, and it’s all really the same place.
All roads meet, I just told one of my travelling partners. After all, there is only one globe. Follow any road long enough and it will take you to anywhere else that you care to be; in the most mathematical sense, we share a single, wildly chaotic and articulated road with everyone else on the planet—a small lonely planet in the middle of a very large universe, on which we are born, grow old, and die, walking the entire time under a field of stars that survey our strange lives and are as puzzled by their meanings as are we.