I had my first existential crisis when I was eleven. I was looking out my window into the vast starlit sky, and for the first time in my life, I felt my breathtaking insignificance. I was alone, utterly alone in an indifferent universe and so I started to cry. I mean cry. Sob. Howl. I knew I was making a scene but I cried, hoping that someone in my family would hear and come to my rescue. But my mother was working at her desk in her office and had barely looked up to grunt “good night” to me when I went off to bed. And my father, as usual, was drunk in the basement watching repeats of “All in the Family.”
I watched the hands on the dial of my electric clock click from 9:00 to 9:15 to 9:30. Finally, the door burst open. The silhouette of my mother loomed above me.
“What on earth are you crying about?” She snapped. The annoyance in her voice made me cringe with shame.
“I’m all alone.“ I sobbed.
“ All alone? What are you talking about?”
“I’m all alone in the universe,” I repeated. “There’s no one there. Infinite just keeps going on forever and ever and there’s no one there.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re not alone. We’re right here. Now go to sleep and stop making a fuss.” She closed the door and I heard her pad down the hall to her room in her house slippers.
A few years later, I found my way into a fundamentalist cult which promised to hold the answers to 95% of your questions about life and God or your money back. At fourteen, I had found what I was looking for. It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine when left the group, battered physically, sexually, and psychologically that I renounced any belief in God or answers. And once again, I was alone.
It’s been twenty years since I left the cult and I still don’t know even 5% of the answers of life and the universe. But I do know one thing and this is what I believe. I believe that it’s all a mystery. After I left the cult, I remember lying on the ground one summer night, looking up at the sky. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I wondered once again if Anyone was out there. Again, I felt totally alone. My fists clutched at clumps of dirt giving me the only solid thing I could hold onto – earth. Then something happened. A falling star, made it’s way across the sky like a delicate silver thread. I realized at that moment that I was not alone. I was part of something wonderful, something beautiful, something bigger than myself. I was part of a Mystery. I do not call it God. I don’t know what to call it but this is what I believe in. I believe in the Mystery of being and I believe that being is Yes.
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