I have a friend we’ll call Albert who sends me Dark Web QAnon Planet X Antifa alerts on a regular basis, hoping to inspire me to get a gun, stop posting naïve declarations about compassion and forgiveness, and split more firewood. Albert likes me. He wants to help me and my family survive the coming apocalypse. I appreciate the intention, but I wish he could help me survive my arthritis and osteoporosis instead.
God stops by Albert’s place now and then. There’s always a pot of coffee on the back of the stove. Albert and his wife invite God in, and they have lively chats. Albert warns God about the evil afoot. God leans back, and from behind her Covid mask, she smiles a big, inclusive smile. I don’t think God means to be condescending, but she can be sarcastic in ways most people miss.
“What’s your take on survivalists?” God asked me. I was pretty sure she had Albert in mind.
“Depends,” I said. “I kind of like preppers and hoarders, but the conspiracy militia crowds freak me out.”
“Yeah,” God agreed. “They require a little more effort.”
“Effort?” I said with a snort.
“Un-huh. Effort. They’ve concocted some exhilarating realities to play with. It’s addictive. They roam around looking for something to make into an enemy, someone to blame and hate and shoot. It’s like they’re living in their own video game, and it’s a whole lot more fun than a being a grownup.”
I shrugged. Being a grownup is not all that easy. “God,” I said. “Humans have a lot of adolescent fears and fantasies that set us up for some very bad outcomes. And we have a lot of trouble outgrowing them. I, myself, have a few I’d like to outgrow.”
“I know,” God sighed. “Open your mouth.” I gave her a look but complied.
“Got some crowns. Fillings. And overall, your teeth look thinner. Not shiny white anymore.”
“So?” I asked, a little ashamed of the state of my teeth.
“So,” God said. “Teeth don’t lie. You can whiten them, cap them, pull them all out. You can just keep flossing and brushing ‘til the day you die. You have choices. They’re your teeth. But someone could come along and knock them out. Then you’d have a new set of choices.”
My tongue curled protectively around my chipped tooth. My mind curled protectively around the days I inhabit, the bones that carry me around, the ways and means I use to navigate these deep, choppy waters.
“God,” I said. “I don’t think I could kill someone to insure my own survival.”
“Of course you could,” God said. “But I hope you don’t. Survival is unattainable anyway. Your teeth won’t be with you forever, you know. No matter what you choose.”