Wednesday, July 23, 2008

it's gonna be a glorious day

And now we come to that of which I often dare not speak. And that is this- you have to believe. Believe in whatever, it doesn't matter.

I'm supposed to be studying neuroanatomy right now, and my professor really loves talking about how the cerebellum would float around without a care in the world if it weren't for the cerebellar peduncles that hold it in place, connecting it to the rest of your brain. An oversimplification, to be certain. But something to believe in. The cerebellum, you need it for balance, to keep the steadiness in your gait. The steadiness, not the gait, you see.

That's the point. Believing doesn't cure all. It doesn't make the world dissolve away, doesn't immerse you in cotton candy clouds and lavender skies. But it lets you walk through the world without the crushing weight of what you see around you. If you look around, if you pay attention, it's not a far fall to despair. It's all around you, the proof, the facts. Things fall apart. Entropy always wins.

But if you took all that at face value, what would keep you waking up every morning? What would keep you from drinking three shots of scotch and calling it a night? What would keep you from feeling the whole world was entirely absurd? Not much. And I should know, because there have been plenty of times that I've let go of belief.

I'm not a religious person. I'm not a person with deep roots, not someone who has had a permanence that serves as a center. I believed in one person once, had the courage to put all my faith into science once as well. It's a thin line, faith and fanaticism. I came to think of that kind of belief as not necessarily healthy.

Now I'm not so sure. It's fundamental, this need to believe. It doesn't matter in what. Sometimes it's as intangible as a well-placed melody. Sometimes it's as simple as the feeling of fog on the tip of your nose. Sometimes it's as small a gesture as someone inviting you when you are otherwise feeling spurned. Sometimes it's bigger. I can see that now. The further you fall, the more let down by faith, the bigger, insurmountable your need to believe. And that's when you need it so badly that you fear you can't live without it, won't know how to put one foot in front of the other, not without the belief that it's not all for naught.

But it's not really true. It doesn't make you walk. It just keeps you from walking in circles, stumbling, tripping. You can do without it for a little while. As long as someone is around to watch out for you, keep you from falling for those moments you've lost your faith, you will live. And at times, that's the best we can hope for. At times, that's where I place my belief.

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