The story so far:
I guess we all felt a little guilty. She’s gone, not knowing she mattered to anyone, thinking she didn’t that because no one knew what to say they didn’t care. It’s not like that was true. Couldn’t be true. It’s fiction, like the suicide is fiction, but it’s sad all the same, sad to think that someone might not matter.
Because if she doesn’t then I don’t. If someone can not matter, the world falls apart. If she doesn’t matter, than this doesn’t matter, and it wouldn’t have mattered if I had left a comment on her page, because she doesn’t matter, and I don’t matter, and neither of us can give the other significance by leaving some strings of characters in a dark and dusty corner of cyberspace.
It comes down to a choice in the end. Like Kirkegaard says, it’s a leap of faith. All else collapses in despair, but faith can’t. Faith is unassailable because it knows it’s own absurdity. Conviction defies reality, exists independent of reality, occupies a higher reality that is the plane of ideas. Belief is a wise wager. If you lose, you lose nothing. If you win, you win everything.
I choose to believe that people matter, that God is keeping score and giving points for every work of art, every act of kindness, every invention, every insight, everything shared. I believe that, and if you don’t, then just think of all the artists and scientists and philosophers who were laughed at in their time.
Socrates was forced to drink poison, Rousseau lived on charity, Voltaire got thrown in the Bastille. They still wrote things that matter to people now, matter enough to make people read them in college. The didn’t know it at the time, didn’t know that millions of people would have discussions about their words. But they didn’t let it stop them. They had enough faith in themselves to continue their work.
It doesn’t matter if you believe in the Scorekeeper or not; it’s an intellectual device, a metaphor, if you will. But if you don’t believe in something, then you’ll always be lost, waiting for someone to throw you a life raft by saying, “Hey, you matter!”
Sometimes I don’t know what to say when I read something. I could give trite praise, but then my words would become meaningless as I heaped them on lots of people. Sometimes I don’t know how to articulate why something mattered, but it did. Sometimes I don’t want to give someone the impression that their writing is good, when in truth it is very bad writing. But it isn’t just the word craft that matters, it’s the soul that comes through, the essence of the ideas. And if I don’t want to say that, if I don’t leave a comment to that effect, it’s because I know someone will think it’s pretentious, meaningless, pointless. I don’t know if I ever read any of her work, the woman who needs the life raft, so I am not commenting on it here. But I do know that my silence is never a declaration of your insignificance.
Believe in the Scorekeeper, believe in yourself, believe in the Giant Spaghetti Monster, but don’t feel the need to believe in me. For all you know, I’ll disappear tomorrow like online people always do, leaving others to wonder where they went. I’m as insubstantial as a dream, and my words are no more than that to you, a dream with no meaning.
When you rely on those dream voices to give you significance, you become insubstantial yourself, and we all drift together in the void of self-doubt, haunted by our own specters. We use too many commas and too many metaphors and the prepositional phrases get out of control.
Have faith in your own significance, or you’ll never get out of the purgatory of half hearted efforts. We say, “It doesn’t matter. It’s not important.” We parrot back the words of all those who would have us do something “better”. And so we don’t bother proofreading, and in all seriousness, the prepositional phrases, by which I mean ones like this, get out of control. It’s bad.
When you believe that what you do matters, you’ll make it great. That’s how it works. Have faith.