this weekend i started reading this great book by j. california cooper, an author whose work always, inevitably, moves me and strikes me in its simplicity and accuracy as it depicts the human condition. she just gets it, puts it down on paper, and it touches you.
this new book i'm reading is called "some people, some other place." the narrator is a being that is not yet born. i guess she's a soul preparing to be born, telling the story of to whom she'll be born and the world into which she'll be born. the narrator begins by telling us about the world she (i assume it's a she, but actually i don't know) currently knows: the world as she sees it before entering the compromised state of being human, a world to which we each belong even though we might have forgotten about it.
she describes the process of transitioning from her current state of full awareness of what the world is all about, into her muted awareness of this reality once she becomes a human being and has to learn how to survive as such. she explains that as babies we are unable to talk for so long because we need this time to unlearn what we already know and focus on the task at hand: survival in our human form.
this struck me as really interesting, especially since it seems like so many of us spend time praying and meditating with the hope of learning ultimate truths about life... maybe truths we know somewhere deep inside but have suppressed as a result of our humanity?
what would this narrator say to another soul about the world? or what would she say to a human being seeking to understand the world better? Maybe this:
The world is made up of people. Billions of different souls with different experiences, different perspectives, different personalities, different sources of suffering and joy. This is beautiful.
There are people who need nature to live—need to be in the dirt, in the fresh air, in the sun, digging things up and planting things in and climbing up or scaling down or swimming through. There are people who need cement, mortar, and technology to live—need to be in a clean, whitewashed environment, need metal and brass and need to revel in humanity’s genius, to take advantage of these conveniences, to master them and manipulate them and own them. There are people who need other people to live—who must be in the middle of the crowd, making it laugh or cry or captivating it with their stories, who must be held by a stranger or a loved one, who must see other people and understand them, who want others to understand them. There are people who need to explore the contours of their inner mind in order to live—who need to reflect, to meditate, to sit in peace and solitude and quiet, who need to write but don’t need to share what they’ve written, who need to pray but also just want to listen. There are people who other people want to be and there are people who everyone pities. There are people who are beautiful and people who are ugly, either physically or internally, or both. There are people who are just beginning to figure it out and there are people who think they’ve got it figured out and there are people who know they know nothing. There are wise people and there are wise-asses. There are smart people and there are smart-asses. There are ignorant people and there are people who are humble blank slates, sponges waiting to be filled.
All of the world is made up of people and this is all God’s image. To think about the world outside of oneself is to contemplate God, who He is, what He is. It is difficult to do, but important because it helps us understand. Maybe all the world is a composite of God’s heart. And maybe contemplating what it is that makes the world what it is and humanity what we are is a good start to understanding God a bit better.
If we want to see ourselves we have to see outside ourselves, be open to differences, shared experiences experienced differently. Can humanity do that?