DeadFishrazor-bladesLife has texture, just as linen and pebbles have texture.  But we feel it differently from the way we feel other, less existential, textures.  What feels smooth and comforting to one may feel coarse and confining to someone else.  There’s no way to communicate the experience, though.  If shared, there is no need to explain it.  If it is not, no explanations will ever suffice.  One cannot describe the taste of an orange to someone with no tongue, no nose, no eyes.

The friction of rough sandpaper on soft skin may be good for the sandpaper, but it’s bad for the skin.  So it is with life experiences.  What feels right and proper and intentional to one feels wrong and awkward and accidental to another.  Some people may be satisfied to read a book once; some may need to read it over and over again. If I enjoy carving peach pits and you can’t get enough of I Want to be a Millionaire, we have different textures.

This, of course, applies not just to “life” but to love.  You may think love is part of life and so may say “of course it applies to love if it applies to life.”  But you would be making an assumption that cannot be proved mathematically.  So don’t even try.

You see, your mistake is this: you assume life encompasses love, whereas it’s actually the reverse that’s true.  Love encompasses life.   If I had the time and the inclination, I could prove that mathematically, but both are in short supply so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Ah, I’ve deviated from the point I intended to make, the way an absent-minded professor deviates from a lesson plan.  Which reminds me,  the absent-minded professors of legend may have, in fact, suffered from dementia or what we now call Alzheimer’s disease.  Can you imagine the cruelty of the students, snickering at the poor old academics who lost their place in the lesson and forgot they were in the classroom?  Those cruel little criminals deserved to be beaten senseless with clubs and left bloody and dehydrated on a deserted beach. That may be a bit harsh, so let me rescind that last statement.

But that very thought leads me back to what I was saying in the first place. Life has texture.  And it’s different for everyone.   Even those criminal students, whose empathy was left to atrophy while their parents bought them BMWs and taught them God only loves monied right wing religious zealots, have a texture to their lives.  Their life texture correlates with rotted fish and razor blades, but it’s texture, nonetheless.  It’s the ugly side of compassion-free privileged life, the coarse texture that tries to hide beneath a smooth mask.

Opposite that rotted-fish-and-razor-blade texture is the texture of empathy and compassion and unconditional love, the sort of texture that proves, mathematically, love encompasses life.  “Wait,” you may say, “what about those students, those rotted-fish-and-razor-blade people who have no compassion, no empathy, no heart…where is the love in them?”  Ah, you’ve made my case for me.  There is no love in them.  And there is no life left in them.  All that remains is the repulsive texture.

“But wait,” you say, “this all started with your assertion that life has texture.  Now you are saying these rotted-fish-and-razor-blade people have texture, but no life.  You’re arguing against yourself.”

No, I am not.  I said life has texture.  I did not say texture has life.  The rotted-fish-and-razor-blade people have no love, therefore they have no life.   How they continue to hold office and drive BMWs, though, is beyond me.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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