I listen to Babylon; it seems to yell louder than ever. Is it possible to live within its beautiful walls, without looking too closely, without wanting what they want? There are so many things I want to be; there are so many things I need to do. And I look to Babylon and wonder if it can offer me a solution. The people seem nice enough; they seem happy enough. Who's to say that they don't know happiness? Who's to say that anything--any way of life--actually brings happiness? It seems to me, it doesn't matter what type of life you lead, you'll still have your good days and your bad days. They don't seem any sadder than I am, day in and day out.
I still don't know the purpose of everything. The way I've decided to live my life doesn't seem to have changed that. I suppose no one could know the purpose of EVERYTHING, anyway. Don't get me wrong, the way I live is a decision already made. I'm not re-thinking it, I'm not regretting it, I'm not giving it up for anything. I'm at peace with it. The decision by no means has given me much comfort, I still feel as lost as the next person. But there's something to having made the decision at all.
Some days I have my doubts; but the moment someone tries to question me on them, I stand firm. It’s like when a friend says something awful about your sister. They’re not allowed to do that—only you are. It’s the same about my life. I can say as many rotten things about my life as I damn well please, but the moment you start, I’ll be defensive. Just because I don’t always act on what I know I want doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean you can question me. It certainly doesn’t mean you can look at me like I’m a child. I’m not a child. Childish, maybe—you can argue that on your own time, if you like. But no one could accuse me of not giving everything a considerable amount of thought. There’s nothing I haven’t considered. This doesn’t make me a better person; most of the time it just makes me an uncertain one.
Babylon smells sweet; you roam down the narrow streets to find where it comes from. You’re not being lured, it’s just one of those perfect days where you have the morning to do whatever you wish and no one is around to tell you otherwise. Babylon has plenty of things worth following, and I realize that living life is like trying to sing a hymn; you can never hit any of the right notes. Most of them are too high, some of them are too low and the ones that are in between take you by surprise, and you miss them all together. Just when you get to the verse where you think you’ll be able to hit half the notes, the song is over and it turns out you’d been looking at the wrong hymn all the time, anyway. Whatever, the words didn’t really mean much to you. I’d rather be listening to the Beatles, or Patty Griffin. I’d rather have a free morning to myself where I might roam the streets of Babylon, simply searching for something I might never find.
Even if you find what you’re looking for, how do you decide what’s most important? It seems to me, that the moment you decide, you realize that it’s not enough. There’s always something you aren’t doing, or aren’t doing right, or aren’t doing enough of. There’s always something you are doing that you shouldn’t be, something you should be better at, something you should give up all together. I know the answer you’d give me. But it’s when you know what you should do that life is the hardest, because knowing the answer to the question is so disheartening when the answer seems to do you no good. It pacifies me, but it never really settles the question, and I’m tired of merely being put at bay. It seems to me, that there are rarely any answers anyway. Nothing ever makes much sense, and is it so wrong of Babylon to try to put the pieces together?
They’re making a lot of loud noises outside my door, while I try to sleep and I think of the old world and their culture and that’s where they came from and they don’t know any better. I don’t know better, either. The deadbolt on the door rattles slightly, and a draft comes up from underneath the door. This is the place where we live; this is our home. How can we leave it, just because they’re putting the puzzle together wrong? Sometimes I feel like leaving this place would be like betraying it. Other times I think, is it so bad to live the life you want? No, this is home. They look up at me and I wonder what they’re thinking. I wish I had the answers, but I simply don’t. I, myself, am desperately trying to figure out what’s important in this life. There are some rare moments when it all seems so simple, but I always manage to muddle it up within a few hours.
I think, if I could just make a difference, none of this would be so bad. Do I give up on Babylon before I’ve begun, although I know I’ll lose? I keep waiting for the most important moment of my life. Not the climax—I don’t believe in climaxes—not the climax, just the turning point. The point where I’ll look back and think, ‘That was it.’ I think I’ll get to a point somewhere down the line when I’ll realize that it never happened. Then what? Will Babylon crumble? Do I give up then? Or should I never begin? Babylon might be lying; Babylon might be tricking me; Babylon might have within it all the evils of the world. But nothing was ever found in Babylon that wasn’t first found within the deepest part of the human soul; and beside that deepness is the light that accompanies it. It always comes back to the center; and Babylon is a bad metaphor for evil; it’s only a metaphor for human existence. When you give up on your search for the center of Babylon, it’s the same as giving up before you’ve started. So, if it’s all the same to you, I’ve decided.
I won’t give up on Babylon. I just can’t. I don’t own a summer cottage there, I don’t OWN anything. But I look to Babylon and I wonder if the people living within its walls are willing to change—they don’t need to move to change. Are they willing to work for themselves? Are they willing to think for themselves? Are they willing to look to a person like me and see that I haven’t got anything figured out, nor will I ever, but does that mean there isn’t more to be had in this world? Isn’t there more to search for? And all of you in Zion, why have you banished yourself from the world you live in? Why have you stopped your search for the center of Babylon? You won’t do any good out there. You fester like a sore; you corrupt yourselves simply by trying to live outside the fight. It’s not so bad within the city walls; all you need to do is keep your eyes to the clouds; even Babylon’s walls could not hide heaven. Are you afraid of those who aren’t just like you? Are you afraid they’ll make life difficult? New blood is hard to live with, sure, but it’s not wrong, and it’s not bad. Even the vineyard keeper knew that.
And since when was life supposed to be easy? Who would want it to be, when we’ve only got this one? I don’t want to be unhappy or miserable, but work me hard—get everything you can out of me, because you only get me once, and you only get me for a day, or a week, or a few years at best. It’s not that I’m going anywhere, I’m not moving. I’m just . . . changing. No, I’ve decided. I may not have many mornings left to roam the streets of Babylon, searching for the sweet smell of its center, but I listen, I listen intently. I listen to Babylon; it seems to yell louder than ever. Sometimes, I think I hear an answer.