Life After God is a book by Douglas Coupland (who also wrote Generation X) that I picked up one day last week when I was at a loose end. I might also have picked it up because my reading muscle is weak and underused at the moment and the writing is big and there are are a lot of pictures in it. Either way, it was a good decision - I haven’t read anything that has resonated with me this strongly in months. It’s really just a collection of short stories recounted by numerous nameless narrators, but every so often there’s such a stop-and-gasp-at-how-much-this-makes-sense-to-me moment that I’ve basically had to start keeping my journal handy whenever I open it. Here are a few of my favourite snippets so far:
“I left the hotel shortly thereafter and, very soon after that, I fell in love. Love was frightening, and it hurt – not only during, but afterward – when I fell out of love. But that is another story. I would like to fall in love again but my only hope is that love doesn’t happen to me so often after this. I don’t want to get so used to falling in love that I get curious to experience something more extreme – whatever that may be.”
“And then sometimes I think the people to feel saddest for are the people who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder – people who closed doors that lead us into the secret world – or who had the doors closed for them by time and neglect and decisions made in times of weakness.”
“Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we’ve missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tradgedy.”
“Mom said that people are interested in birds only inasmuch as they exhibit human behaviour – greed and stupidity and anger – and by doing so they free us from the unique sorrow of being human. She thinks humans are tired of having to take the blame all by themselves for the badness in the world. I told Mom my own theory of why we like birds – of how birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.”
“It was also my birthday – I remember that – 31, and I also remember that I wasn’t feeling lonely even though it was my birthday and I was alone and I was in the middle of nowhere. A few years previously, a similar situation would have had me sweaty with anxiety, but loneliness had of late become an emotion I had stopped feeling so intensely. I had learned loneliness’s extremes and had mapped its boundaries; loneliness was no longer something new or frightening – just another aspect of life that, once identified, seemed to disappear. But I realised a capacity for not feeling lonely carried a very real price, which was the threat of feeling nothing at all.”
What are you reading at the moment?
Image above from here.