Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eden, pt 2

(part one)

The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Paradise Lost, Book 12, 646-649

Rooney Mara in Vogue; by Mert and Marcus
All the world is before us, and it is too big to face alone. Our wandering is slow; our attempts to rail against the slowness rush us heartily into vast decision, and the search for meaning. We walk hand in hand, like Milton’s fallen, but this togetherness is a cruel joke; hands must part to do the work. At the base of our very humanity, we are alone. Solitude is a natural state; enforced on a will we’ve been told is free.

The truth is, we have not moved on from the struggle of Adam. We are all standing at the edge of the world, looking for a place to rest. Though, we know by now, rest is elusive. The act of completion isn’t ours to make. Our exile from the garden was the loss of peace, so our search for resolution is never finished. There is no rest for the wicked, and, as the story goes, we are wicked. Eve and I have a lot in common, after all, and the fruit of the justified upper hand appeals to me (and has lost me), too.

There’s an irony in the story of their exile, though. Adam and Eve walked out, under the eye of Providence. Imperfection demanded separation, but God could not bear it. He told them to get out, and followed them anyway. This new creation, so newly disappointing, was not ended, but rather, sent out to flourish. They were tasked by their seed with the salvation of humanity, though they themselves had doomed it. God left them in charge of the world when they could not handle Eden.

Though Providence may guide us, Providence eludes us, too. He is always moving on, and so we must move on. From our losses, from our deaths, from the peace that comes with entitlement; we don't get to rest. We must move on.

To what? 

To work, which is the burden of our life. To life and loneliness with others. Even held hands must part, to do the work of trying.

All the world is before us. It is too big to face alone, and yet in one instant: we are and are not.