David L. Robbins: A Most Intriguing Subject
And just what makes it so compelling
Do you ever wonder whether you’re interesting?
Did you go to war, marry your first love, rescue a pony from a flooded stream, invent a household item, catch a thief? Can you interpret dreams and read tarot cards?
Did you raise a family, work honestly and hard, buy a new car once in a while, cut your own grass, split wood, mend your clothes, volunteer, worship with friends, read a novel, play cards and win sometimes?
Look, the list is long. I’ll hit on something if I keep typing. So I’ll jump to the point.
I’m a teacher of writing, been at it for 20 years at every level: school-age, university, adult, published authors, gifted to beginner. I’ve long had myself as my most promising and disappointing student. When I’ve asked my students to write about themselves, they sometimes question whether they have anything of note to observe about their own lives and insights. Are their stories worth telling? If they lack flash, are they still beings of light? If they stand steadily, do they also stand out?
The answer is, “Oh yes.” The story of another human being is absolutely the most remarkable account any of us can read or hear.
THE FASCINATION OF YOU
Why do I believe this? Why is each of us a marvel to the rest of us?
I have a theory. The premise invokes God, so please be patient. I mean no disrespect.
We behold God as omni-everything: present, powerful, wise, compassionate, eternal, whatever you consider Him to be. He rises in every age, with a myriad of names and descriptions. Yet there seems to be one trait spanning all nations and representations.
He’s not like us.
We humans, we’re wee folk. Temporal creatures, live and die, limited in understanding, and our powers are puny. We’re many; He’s singular. We strive to be like Him and His son and prophets and emissaries, but that’s chimeric, so we measure ourselves by how far we fall short. Though we may be of God, we, by any indicator, are not Him.
Yet He loves us. Comes to all lands and tongues. Watches and engages all of us without cease. Does He ever get bored with us, fed up? On occasion, does He have to look away and rest His eyes?
It appears not. But why not?
My guess is it’s because even when He’s displeased with us – as He must often be – we’re still captivating and amusing. We’re like the campfire the poet can ruminate into, the sea the sailor can gaze at endlessly, the clouds a child will lie back and name. We’re the ant-farm, the slow-flowering cactus, the red desert, the antics of a puppy, all oddly loved. This, I think, is our charm to God: we’re just dopey and variegated enough to tickle Him. We change slowly like a minute hand, quick like an ocean; we are watchable. We’re riveting, puzzling, funny, authentic, meaningful, different and – here’s the kicker – we all are.
Consider: of everything I can be in this universe, the one thing I cannot be is you. You are the greatest adventure, the treasure map, the light around the corner; I am drawn to you because you are not me.
Likewise, if we all are, indeed, of God, then it appears we’ve inherited His fascination for you. To me, your life is a white-knuckle mystery, everything you know is wisdom. Each step you take is a stride into the unknown. Your insights are not mine, your risks and close escapes are not mine, your longing, losses, courage, loyalties and perfidies are not mine. I have, just as you have, a contempt for myself because I am so familiar with me. But you! You are strange.
Think about sensory deprivation tanks, those dark pods where people are robbed of all their senses save their thoughts. After a brief isolation with themselves, they can freak out, even hallucinate. That is me without you.
Be confident that you are incredible to everyone else. Even if you’re unaware of it, you are living with extemporaneity and suddenness. You may not astonish yourself, but everything you think and do is a surprise to us.
In the end, there’s only one story. That story consists of one question: How to live?
And you! You, in your billions and your oneness, are a remarkable answer to that question. You keep God laughing. Me, too.