Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine — Patti Smith “Gloria”
It was Saturday night and I was at home watching Saturday Night Live. I first heard the opening chord to this song when I was a much younger man. The opening chord and words changed my life.
I am not a Christian. I have never been a Christian. Except for an hour or so in the mid nineteen ninety’s I have never even flirted with being “saved”. The concept was foreign to me. Yet, for me, a young man who had been protected from the world by parents, by circumstance and by sheer naivete, the strength of these words shook my foundations. This woman, this force, this strength was admitting that redemption was possible and available by a simple act of will and was, out of rebellion, rejecting it.
Whenever I consider a more conventional path, these words give me strength.
Most people don’t seem to struggle the way I do. They seem to have made peace with their own devils. They look for a conventional way to make their way through the universe. At age fifty, I know people who go to church on Sunday, or, Temple on Saturday, on purpose. They works steady jobs, some quite successfully. Some of them own property and they have retirement plans.
I still buy lottery tickets. I have been told that I am disabled, probably permanently. I write my truth. It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I believe that there is no God. It may be hard to believe, but Atheists and Agnostics are worse than Theists when it comes to defining what they personally don’t believe in and in whom they choose to not believe. I avoid them.
I didn’t want to be here in my fifties.
I didn’t want to be homeless and disabled. I didn’t choose that. I was attracted to the darkness.
We celebrate the successful artist. the fifteen year old jazz prodigy will never want for anything. Hollywood stars are adored. The failed artists rot. People in our cities no longer get consumption. The pox is treatable. Instead the failed artist will die by alcohol or drugs or by their own hand. Discarded, un-redeemed, it’s easy to say that nobody told them to be an artist.
Nobody wants to be an artist.
There is a scream inside. A scream or a cry or a laugh or something that needs to come out and to be shared. It’s not a desire. It’s a need. It has to come out.
I didn’t choose the darkness. My darkness chose me.