My Freshman English class in high school had a textbook with more pages than some versions of The Bible. It was the heaviest book I have ever had the privilege of lugging around, period. Everyone hated it. The ironic part was that we were responsible for bringing it to class every day, but we hardly read out of the thing. I believe it was three short stories in total that we read, which amounts to having cracked its’ cover three times in class and none at home. Flipping through the pages one day while half-listening to people giving their Macbeth speeches, I found the second piece of literature that has stuck with me since high school. It was titled, “The Universe,” by May Swenson.
My favorite line from the short poem goes like this: “And what if the universe is not about us? Then what? What is it about? And what about us?“ I suppose it resonated with me because I read it during a time in my life when there wasn’t much to hold on to. High school was just beginning and I never really fit in anywhere those four years. My junior high friends had all but gone their separate ways and I was struggling to find a meaning to life beyond the four walls of my classroom. I was lost in a way I used to think only fifteen-year olds could be; but have since welcomed that lost feeling as something familiar. I remember thinking to myself that I would have it all figured out by the time I was my age now… That certainly seven to ten years later I would have a better grip on life in general.
I don’t. A good third of my blog posts prove I have no idea what I am doing, and another third show that I am far too impatient. I still wonder sometimes, when I stumble across news articles of shaken babies and college students being tear-gased for protesting, what about us? It is a question I asked “The Universe” when I was younger, one which I ask God on a fairly regular business now. Why do things have to be this way, and why does it feel every time I try to get ahead I get smacked back down again?
The unfortunate part of asking God is that I know, just as if i were talking to the air, or to the universe at large, I probably won’t ever get an answer… but that doesn’t stop me from asking.