Saturday, 4 May 2013

My treaty with reality

CS Lewis was said to have made a pact with life, a treaty with reality. It was a necessary treaty for his sanity during the First World War in 1914, and compounded by the early death of his mother to cancer. When he was enlisted to fight on the battlefields of France (in 1917/18), many of his Oxford buddies died, in particular, one close friend, Paddy Moore, whose mother, Mrs Moore, was like a mother to him.

In Surprised by Joy, he wrote, "I put the war on one side to a degree which some people will think shameful and some incredible. Others will call it a flight from reality. I maintain that it was rather a treaty with reality, the fixing of a frontier."

This treaty with reality sets the buffer for Lewis against the carnage of war, the random deaths and the inordinate pain and suffering of life. More importantly, it was a treaty that guarded him against the indiscriminate gravitational blackhole of the meaninglessness of life.  It was a frontier that separated him from living while living and dying while living. A liminality from the fiefdom of bondage to the freedom to live.

Borrowing his analogy, I personally have my own treaty with reality, my pact with life. It is a treaty representing everything that is against the denying of everything that is good about life. It is a treaty that refuses to believe that we are the blind, random and mindless result of evolution; that we evolved from some serendipitous accident on a grand cosmogony scale. 

It is a treaty that chooses to embrace the best of mankind, to see the silver lining in the worst of us, and to uphold the hope that nothing is as bad as it seems; even death. Because if you think about it, death is but the continuation of a life in another way. For we can bury the body but not the memory. We can cremate the shell lifeless but not the love enduring. We can miss the physical company of our loved ones but not the unbreakable spiritual connection that their living years have so diligently sown in our lives. 

This treaty is necessary. It is crucial. Breach it and my borders of aliveness become blurred, diluted, even contaminated. Imagine radiation poison that dissolves into the bloodstream of life and destroys it gradually, surely, and with blind abandon. E.M Forster once wrote about his characters that “wandered like cardboard symbols through a world that was paper-thin.” That is to me the violation of this treaty. We wander soulless into a world without wonders like clockwork machines punching around the clock, meeting deadlines, making money, and making a name for ourselves, without end. A life is to be loved and not exploited. A soul is to be redeemed and not driven. And a spirit is to be set free, not imprisoned.

So, I choose to preserve and protect this pact with life. I elect to make it real, this treaty with reality. It is a covenant that makes sense of the senseless. It is the only way my life can fully live, and in death, fully come alive in the hearts of others. It is like the defining hole in the donut. Although unseen, it is what makes a donut a donut. Denying the unseen in my life is to deny what it means to be me.

There is much more to this world than is revealed to me. And I do not want to live my life in pure abstractions. I do not want to live my life confined within a world made up of complex theories, however grand and unifying they can be. I do not want my world to be ringfenced in a neat formula, expressed in numerical terms, and reduced into a college text. There is undoubtedly more to it, much much more, and I don't want to view life from a kaleidoscope of scattered scenes. I want to view it from the summit of eternal perspectives.

My life has to defy the physical laws of this world because it was created to defy the physical bounderies of reality. My life is a countless series of uncharted spiritual rendezvous and not a blind matchmake with materialism.This is to me what conversion really means, a Christian conversion that is. CS Lewis once wrote, “A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere.” I guess I have fallen into one of those life’s traps planted by my creator. Like a hunter, he had planned it all along; and like a lost sheep, I was meant to detour into it.

Alas, some make a pack with the devil. I however choose to make a pact with God. It is to me a pact with the hunter of life, a treaty with eternity.

Let me end with the words of Evelyn Waugh, “Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.” 

My conversion ends my life in the world where plain sight ruled and starts it on a journey where sublime faith takes flight. Cheerz.

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