Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If nothing existed, what would you create?

A few days ago, I left the house around seven in the morning and did not get home until a little after nine that evening. And by the time I got home I was completely exhausted and surly. I did not have a bad day, just a long day. I planned to hug my wife and kids, take one of those long Hollywood showers, have me a drink, and pull my notes I had gathered during the day into a post.

But when I sat down to compose, nothing would come. Suddenly my notes made no sense, so in desperation I sent a quick message to a poet friend, Poet Rhythm, that I was in dire need of inspiration. And she quickly responded with a writing prompt in the form of a question: “If nothing existed, what would you create?”

So, I took the prompt, and I went to work. I forgot my fatigue for just a moment as I spent about an hour or so solving the world’s problems in creating me a world.

I began by creating a world completely devoid of all evil. There was no discord; no hatred or discrimination existed. And violence and war could not even be found in the lexicon.

In my world, no one frowned. There was no reason to do so. Every person possessed enough, just enough. No more or no less just to lessen the influence of greed and avarice. And of course no child went to bed hungry, and all were healthy and happy and intelligent.

Take just a second to close your eyes and imagine all that you believe to be beautiful about this world. Now open them. That is what my world looked like.

But the moment I finished creating my world, the moment my utopia existed if only in language, I did not feel right. It was perfect, all too perfect. And it unsettled me.

So, I backtracked a bit and allowed evil to enter my world, but I gave the inhabitants of my world a heart and a conscience, so they might have the tools to resist. And with evil, of course you will have discord. Of course you will have hatred and discrimination which leads to violence and wars, but I left the door open to peace by equipping the people with compassion and reason.

And it really hurt me to allow a disparity in wealth, in material goods even as I understood that this would only invite greed and avarice, but it seemed only fair to me that each person be allowed reward in proportion to her or his talent.

And it hurt most because I understood right away that some children would necessarily go to bed hungry, but I hoped that enough of the people would use their capacity for love and empathy to do all they could to ameliorate the suffering around them, to lift up others even as they climbed.

Finally, I conceded the notion of a perfect beauty and wretched ugliness and blight came in. But I gave the world artists and writers and gave them a heightened sense of perception and expression so that they might show the world glimpses of the possibilities of beauty.

But when I stepped back to read what I had written, to behold what I had created, I realized the futility of this exercise; this plan was already in place and was crafted by an architect, a planner, far greater than I.

So, I selected all that I had written, hit the delete button and opted instead to create a plan to better myself, to become an agent of compassion and reason without regard for reward, to fully utilize my capacity for love and empathy, and fashion myself into that artist, that writer, who possesses the talent, the heightened sense of perception and expression, that might allow me to create brief glimpses of that which is beautiful, to create my own brief and flowered visions of a perfect world.


Keith said...

Hey Max. This was such a great post. I totally understand what you mean. I think we often look at the world and see how we would do things differently. There are negative aspects that we would say that we would do away with. Then if we actually had to be the creators, we would see the world in a different light. The world would have been too perfect. Plus if you give humanity free will some will choose to do good while others will do evil. Most will be in the middle.

rhythm said...

beautiful. and to think, i almost didn't go back through my blogroll for all that i had missed while away in NOLA. i would have missed a gem.

thank you.

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