I believe that I am not the only one who is frightened by existence. It’s an odd feeling that I get at times. I question whether I exist, and my thoughts quickly seek to justify my existence, and I eventually find myself wondering if God really exists. And how did he come into being. So I dispute that he does. But then (this is all happening in less than a second) I know that atheism cannot account for existence either. It had to start somewhere, because he I am at this computer typing this question of whether I exist or not. Of course I do, but how did it all begin? And I wonder what I am meant to do with my life or myself. And I am humbled by life itself.
Alexander Smith said that he as an essayist can no more “render a better apology for his existence than a flower might.” And I wondered how the flower might explain its existence. I wonder if any human, for that matter, can render such an explanation. And perhaps that is the very point of the essay: it’s to find some excuse to exist. Isn’t that what we are all doing? The man at the bank, who hands you the money you are withdrawing from your account to buy a birthday cake for your daughter before she dies of cancer, that man is excusing his existence by being a teller. The man who sits at his desk to write poems, the man who constructs skyscrapers, the man who designs prisons, the man who cooks in Italy, the man who is on the coast of Australia studying coral, do any of these things really matter? Aren’t we just apologizing for our existence.
I know that I struggled with this every summer of my college life, this summer in particular. I find myself wondering what apology I can come up with best. I want to give a really good apology. But now I wonder who am I apologizing to. Perhaps the other people? Maybe to the planet, why, because it was here first.
And my mind goes back to that flower. Is it even apologizing? Or is it just fulfilling it’s organic purpose. I would like to think that the flower is after something other than apologizing. I would like to think that the flower is after beauty. It’s after the sunlight. It’s after basking in sunsets, and enjoying the frigid spring rain, the muggy summer nights that saturate the hidden aura with effervescence. I think of the bee, as it flies from flower to flower gather the sweetest parts off of the sweetest things that this planet has to offer. I wonder if there will ever bee something that flies from a beautiful woman’s hair, to a man’s sunshined mane, and back and forth between all the beautiful people on this globe, gathering the hair and taking it to some hive and packaging it into something sweet and aesthetic. What a beautiful creature, that has chosen to associate with the finest things that life has to offer, then giving back something so lasting and sapid as honey.
Where is the apology in that? What is the bee seeking from that. Does that sound like an apology, an explanation, or is that just joy?