Sunday, April 21, 2013

Even The Greatest Puzzle Has A Solution

Ten years ago today I rode in the backseat of a college professor's car with some other students as we headed from the hospital back to campus. They were talking about what we'd just experienced while I sat silently, unable to speak at all. It was from the shock, mostly, but the grief wasn't too far behind.
A boy I didn't know sat in the front seat. He said he didn't believe in heaven or any sort of afterlife, but he did believe that our friend was still a part of the universe...something about his memory living on in us...I can't quite remember the words. I just remember that it made my heart ache with empty sadness and the pit in my chest grow larger.
Just minutes earlier I had stood in a circle in a hospital parking lot with dozens of other students as we held hands and prayed together. I had looked around at all these people that one person had gathered together, and though I was broken, there was still hope. It meant something. It had to.
Just a week earlier I'd spent a 26-hour bus ride to New York next to one of the greatest human beings I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. He'd let me stretch my feet across his lap as I repeatedly scrambled the Rubik's cube for him and timed his solutions. They were always under a minute.
He was like a brother, except the only time I'd ever been mad at him was once in the cafeteria when he'd thrown an egg roll at me and gotten soy sauce all over my favorite shirt. I couldn't stay mad at him for long – no one could.
And once, a long time before that, we had sat in his dorm room talking about life, and he confessed that he didn't believe he would live until old age. He'd just 'had a feeling'. I told him that was ridiculous and that one day we would call each other up and talk about our grandkids.
But that was not to be.
Charles was smart, witty, multi-talented – but most of all, loving. He understood what love was far better than most people twice his age. His life may have seemed short to so many who knew him, but he had gained far more knowledge and understanding than most people even bother to seek in this brief life we're all given. Charles looked at the universe as though it were something as simple as a mathematical equation and had a spiritual outlook full of meaning and purpose. He was unique in a way I have never known anyone else to be.
That's why it wasn't fair. I couldn't understand why, out of all the human beings on earth, it had to be him. Twenty-one years old, so much life left to live, so much more loving left to much more to give.
It was a long and painful process for me to finally arrive at the realization that the answer was, why not? Life is not fair in the way that we assume it should be, as we all know by the way it slams us into a wall every now and then. In fact it would probably be for the best if the word “fair” didn't even exist in any human language. I don't know why we keep trying to mold it into what we think it should be.
Our natural tendency is to ask why, but perhaps we are simply not asking the right question.
Life Is A Puzzle

The answers to the universe are most likely quite simple. After all, a Rubik's cube has only one solution out of 43 quintillion possible combinations – a solution that is as simple as a series of sequences. Maybe if we just knew all the rules and took it one step at a time, all these complexities would seem so easy...the solutions would be clear.
I don't have all those answers, and it often frustrates me. But I do believe that Someone does. And I do believe that Charles lives on in a much bigger way than the boy in the front seat thought he did. I believe we'll someday have the answers, and I believe that Charles is thrilled to have them now.
I believe all that because it makes no sense to be handed a Rubik's cube that's impossible to solve. The enigmas this life presents have more to offer us than confusion and surrender. When we know there is a solution, the puzzle starts to take shape.
Charles' existence meant something and means something still. We are so much more than random. We fit together in the most complex-and-yet-simple puzzle that's ever been designed.
I've seen too many people give up on the answer because they're holding onto a piece they can't quite fit into the puzzle. They've got one side of the cube solved, but the rest of it is still so jumbled up that they decide it's not even worth it, that it must be impossible.
But it is possible. It is worthy of our time and attention.
Charles taught me many things, but mostly that the answers are worth seeking. Just because I can't see the completion doesn't mean there isn't one. It just means I need to figure out the steps, fitting in the pieces as I find them and letting Love guide me along the way.