“My Apostrophe Moment” was one of my dad’s old sayings. Anytime he had some major breakthrough, he used that phrase. When I was a kid, I didn’t get it. I also didn’t get it when Bugs Bunny mispronounced nonchalant and finesse. For myself, I recently had one of those major breakthroughs.
My wife and I went to see the movie “The Theory of Everything,” the Stephen Hawking biography, and one detail of his life it revealed is that he’s an atheist. Myself, I was raised a Congregationalist, but I eventually became an agnostic. I had doubts, simple as that, and my attitude to the atheists was the same as to the faithful: prove it. Well, sitting there in the theater, I got my confirmation. I thought about how much Hawking’s wife loved him, how much she endured so to be with him and take care of him, as he got sicker and sicker over the years. He had two years to live, and yet he continued to survive.
That’s when I saw it. The answer was love.
With so many aspects of the human psyche, I’m able to see both divine action and simple evolution. The desire to build and learn; the drive to find a mate, the longing to stand out from the crowd, so many things swung both ways. Then there was love. It seemed to run counter to evolution. Yes, it has its pluses: devotion to a mate, protection of offspring, care of the elderly and infirm.
On the balance sheet, there are a many minuses. Perfectly healthy men and women will give up the chance to improve their lives and the potential for future offspring, just to stay with a sickly mate. Even worse, these same healthy people will willingly lay down their lives to protect an offspring and even a complete stranger; someone in danger. Love is even more hazardous than that. Strong, healthy intelligent people will give up their lives in a completely and totally vain effort to save a mate, a child, an elderly parent, and countless others, even when they themselves are either perfectly safe or can escape the danger the other person faces.
We’ve all seen and heard of such stories: Mothers rushing into a burning building to save a child, despite the act being hopeless. Men and women diving into icy water to save a spouse, a pointless endeavour, as the other person is beyond saving and the safe person knows that. When the Titanic went down, numerous women chose to remain on board with their husbands, rather than part from them. Some may have hoped for rescue, but many knew what their decision entailed. Why would a logical person do such a thing?
These actios do exemplify one simple thing: they are acts of love. That was when I had my apostrophe moment. That’s when my belief in a Creator solidified. Now, that doesn’t mean I buy the whole Garden of Eden, the burning bush, Noah’s Ark, and so on. I also don’t believe in wings, golden harps and living on clouds, or, on the flip side, fire and brimstone. Now, I at least have something to believe in. I think of it as a start point, a jumping off spot. Where will this lead? I don’t know, but I take a great degree of comfort in having at least something to believe in.
Who knows what my next special moment will be.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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