I like to think that about 34 years and 4 months ago, I was given instant knowledge of my life to be. In that second, every pain and pleasure I have experienced this far in my life and will experience in the years ahead, were present in my perfect understanding – I saw the elation and heartache – I saw the first time I held my child and the time my father cut me out of his life – I saw connection and rejection – I saw every stubbed toe, every broken bone, and every orgasm. And I chose this life. This life is a game. Every day I chose not to end it is a day I chose to play. When we see life as intentional, it can no longer victimize us. Moments with the potential to inspire happiness and moments with the potential to inspire sadness do not happen to us. They are products of our choice to keep playing. So we may cry as a result of our sadness and laugh as a result of our feeble brilliance. But we must never forget our experience of this world belongs to us.
Religion is used to apply magical explainations to that which we do not yet understand. Different religions are the products of different people’s interpretations of that which we cannot explain. To adhere to a religion gives up the responsibility we each have to attempt to explain that which we have yet to. This doesn’t mean there is no higher power. The greatest force in this world is love. Love can motivate us to do the illogical. Love can inspire us to put other’s needs first. There is something in us that makes this kind of illogical behavior feel perfectly right. Our gods are what we worship. To me, love is God. While love may inspire us to engage in illogical behavior, the pursuit of love may be completely logical. Love is means to a better world. This does not reduce God to love, but rather, expands love to God. Sure there are things we don’t understand about our world. Some of us may choose to call these things magic until we gain understanding of them. Others may insist to rely on magic as means of explaination, works to decieve us and divides us from the truth. It would seem we are using different words to describe the same thing. Whether we call it magic or unknown, we are saying, at the moment, we can’t explain it. To say we know anything for ceratin would seem to take a certain level of arogance. There is so much beauty in our world. Whether we call it the product of a creator or the product of something else, we may be right on both accounts. It is when we try to define things in terms of certainty that we get into trouble. So float on with the pursuit of understanding, know your understanding may constantly change, and recognize that there is nothing wrong with this… And if this uncertainty bothers you, DO NOT look into quantum physics. I mean (brain splatter sounds).
When we divide this country along color lines, we may conclude this holiday means more to those of us with African ancestry. Ironically, as a result of the wage gap (See graphs C and D below), one may conclude an unproportionate number of workers with African ancestry may be clocking in today as a result of their daily job duties remaining vital to day-to-day function.
Although my position at my place of employment is vital to continued function of the organization, I have today off. My job can wait one day for my attention. And yes, I am what society considers “White”. That is to say, I have mostly European ancestors. Recently, I chose to go into work on a holiday. A friend/co-worker told me in jest that I was too “White” to be there on that day. If I gave credence to this notion that the colors of our skin defined us as people, I may find the idea that my friends who happened to have darker skin work more today than my friends who happened to have lighter skin objectionable solely because I considered these friends to be profoundly different. But, if this thing we call “race” does not define a person, we cannot draw lines along “race” here.
It has been said I, a “White” male, could not possibly understand what it is like to be a “Black” person in this society. I once heard a friend of African decent tell a friend of European decent that any claim a “White” person made about experiencing discrimination was unfounded. His claim seemed to state no “White” person could possibly know what it is to experience discrimination. One could conclude, as a “White” male, I don’t experience the same kinds of discrimination my “Black” brothers and all of my sisters experience regularly. But this doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is to be discriminated against and even targeted by police as a result of demographic information.
We all have powers of empathy. We tend to empathize most with people with whom we identify. With this knowledge, we may see how claiming a person of European decent could not understand the discrimination a person of African decent faces works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. To say we are so different works to put greater division between us. Perhaps it is my liberal upbringing, but I rejoice in the fact we have come as far as we have and weep at the thought of how far we have to go. I can’t say this holiday means as much to me as it does to you, because I’ve never been you. But, for the same reason, you can’t make any contrary claim.
Any inequality as a result of a bias system is unjust. I do not revel in the fact that our current system is unbalanced, even as I benefit from it. Still, I can’t help but feel that continuing to draw lines between “races”, perpetuates a system of inequality. My point here, if I have a point, is that while it is important to recognize the division, the injustice, we cannot let this division divide us further. This division is arbitrary and only works to oppress us, ALL of us. It is only when we come together that the powers that be will be no longer. When we stop allowing ourselves to be divided, we may see the real problem, the real cause for starvation and homelessness, the real cause for those of us without to continue to go without, greed. I’ve said it before; The best cage is one the prisoners cannot see. And today the bars of this cage look an awful lot like skin color.
It has been theorized that the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is meant to represent a circular timeline. That is to say that Joel and Clementine maintain a perpetual system of falling in and out of love before having their memories of each other erased. As eloquent as this theory may seem, I like to think it is not accurate.
I like to think, even as Joel and Clem accept their relationship will not work, their experience of finding each other again and gaining understanding of their previous relationship together would inspire them to do things differently. Perhaps their understanding of their incompatibility causes them to give more care to the relationship this next time around. For me, the saddest moment in this film is when Clem says to Patrick no one she has dated has ever given her a piece of jewelry she liked. In this one utterance, she reveals how her relationship with Joel was different, was special. It makes sense to me their first time around would work as a cautionary tale for their second attempt. Going into this second effort, they already have a great tool at their disposal they didn’t their first try; they have their Lacuna tapes. They have a road map of major issues they may hope to encounter and may plan ahead. Of course it’s quite possible they would’ve listened to their tapes and realized their willingness to jump in head-first a second time was hasty. At the same time, how much better would all of my failed relationships been if we could’ve gone into them with complete honesty? Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but those scenes of Joel and Clem’s happy relationship falling apart seem as though they could’ve gone very differently if they only knew more about each other’s needs. If Joel could’ve given Clementine a little more space and if Clem could’ve been a little more considerate of Joel’s feelings, their relationship could’ve felt much more like the Light and Day – Polyphonic Spree music video. The scene most emblematic of this disconnect is Joel’s final dream scene. He and Clem are at the beach house:
Joel: I walked out, I walked out the door!
Joel: I don’t know. I felt like a scared little kid, I was like… it was above my head, I don’t know.
Clementine: You were scared?
Joel: Yeah. I thought you knew that about me…
It is true no relationship I’ve experienced feels anything like that first, getting-to-know-you stage of romantic love after a certain amount of time. I’ve often described this stage as sex and elation. But when that fades, I’d like to think, if we care enough about each other, something stronger may grow out of it.