An idea I’ve revisited lately is the one of God. God has a very hard time of it today. I don’t think that’s because we don’t understand God. I think it’s because we can’t understand It. Think about it: if God was small enough for us to comprehend, It wouldn’t be big enough to be God. I use the ‘It’ to allude to God since I think God transcends our ideas of gender, not because God is some sort of object for me. Quite the contrary, It’s beyond things.
I don’t believe God can fix our problems, because fixes end up just causing more problems down the line. I think It can help us look upon the problems we create differently, and thus help us to transcend them. To transcend. I’ve already used that word twice. It simply means ‘to go beyond.’ In a way, to transcend problems is to accept them. Once they’re accepted, I no long see them as problems.
What Yale taught me is that the idea of God is simply the collection of ideas, feelings and experiences which we can’t understand. So many people have so many problems with God. It arouses an antipathy in some, an indifference in others. Even those who claim to believe in a God sometimes zealously defend their idea of It. The fact that millions have been tortured, imprisoned or murdered in religious wars or pogroms of one kind or another turns others away from the idea of religion. On balance, you might say that the idea of God may have been more trouble than it was worth. It may have caused more problems, more suffering than It solved. But Yale might’ve said that people go to war over religion not because they don’t understand the beliefs of another. They war over belief because they don’t really understand their own religion.
Yale, the main character in The Dirt: Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, was a man of paradox. Some thought him mentally disabled, or even insane. Since he’d been a child, he’d been diagnosed with so many different mental disorders. And he couldn’t do simple arithmetic. He couldn’t interpret the meaning of a proverb. He suffered from an expressive language disorder that rendered his use of words unintelligible at times. Yet when he wrote, his meaning flowed so clear that I think it scared some people. Maybe that’s why they tried to lock him up.
Yale was an enigma. A ranch hand with a first-rate hat and boots, he wore a subtle, sunny grin beneath his brim that made it seem he was putting the world on, that he was beyond the pettiness of society. It was a sly smile that communicated he knew something the rest of us didn’t. I was hungry for meaning. A disillusioned former attorney without a heading, and so, without a destiny, I needed to believe in something. I saw a sagacity in Yale’s blanched blue eyes, a detachment in those sharp lips always turned up ever-so-slightly in his Mona Lisa smile.
My girlfriend, Udenni, thought his wry grin was just compensating for a borderline IQ, for his lack of understanding of what really went on in the guardianship proceedings swirling around him. I pointed out that he read graduate level texts on geology. Udenni, ever the skeptic, demurred. She shot me a big so what. The same ‘so what’ that Yale reacted to just about anything with. A slight shrug of the shoulders. “What are you burlapping yourself over this for, Holiday?” he said to me one day about his case I was defending in court; a case that meant the difference between his freedom and getting locked up in a nursing home. He meant: Why are you getting so upset about this? Don’t you know that nothing that happens here is all that damn important?
But to hell with all of them, with their judgments and their diagnoses and their laws: Udenni, my friend and lawyer, Josh, who was helping me with the case; Judge Puett, who never ceased to remind me how insignificant I was; Don Cash, the State’s lawyer, and Clifford Showalter, MD, the State’s psychiatrist. I needed something to believe in, and I latched onto Yale’s cause and decided that this was it. I’d sacrifice myself over this one, over this war of beliefs: personal freedom versus the State’s right to act as parent when someone can no longer care for themselves; whether mysticism is valid or isn’t; whether Yale was some kind of bodhisattva or just a cowhand who couldn’t add up half-a-buck and a quarter. I needed a cause, a fight, something to believe in.
To me, that’s what God is: that installed need to believe in something beyond my ego, that quest to feel a feeling beyond nagging doubts and fear, the desire to move beyond the world and its petty, made-up laws. God is, above all, an experience. One that can’t be translated into words. Yale was always trying to tell me that. Yet because he lacked the ability to convey it in words the rest of us could understand, he was an ironic messenger. Yale was irony, too.
Those three qualities: paradox, enigma, irony. To me, that’s what God represents. Perhaps it’s why I was so drawn to Yale. Because he had the qualities of God.
© 2022 by Michael C. Just
Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.
You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+dirt+journey+of+a+mystic+cowboy&crid=1S40Q4BXSUWJ6&sprefix=the+dirt%3A+journey+of+a+m%2Caps%2C180&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_23
Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through this website or through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002
Four of his short stories have recently been published online:
Lies, Ltd. has been published by The Mystery Tribune @ Lies, Ltd.: Literary Short Fiction by Michael C. Just (mysterytribune.com)
The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW
I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October
Offload, a short story about a man who can heal any disease, is now live and can be read at The Worlds Within at Offload – The Worlds Within