Owed to joy

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Forgive me, Ludwig.

Have you ever awakened knowing that it’s a new day and nothing’s ever going to be the same?

Honest to god, it feels a little like asthma. My chest feels both full and empty; joyless heart feels a little fluttery and weak. My nerves are zinging, and it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the feeling, sentimental and sad as the not-infinite-but-very-large universe expands before me to encompass every probability but one.

Listen to that bittersweet song. On a still night, listen to the dry leaves fall through the autumn trees. Soon, real winter will be upon us, and we’ll be surrounded by death but buoyed by the promise of new birth when the solstice comes around, when the lengthening night stops, pauses and reverses on the third day.

I have no doubt that our ancestors cowered before the unknowable future. Without the benefit of a god, a notebook or a watch, the incrementally shorter days must have been terrifying, but those forebears still must have done the things they had to do—hunt, eat, fuck, hope.

That’s why I think faith is encoded into our chromosomes. In order to adapt, to change, humans have to believe in things they can’t see. They have to believe that this time—this time—everything’s going to be all right. Otherwise, why would anyone ever leave a bad situation or even explore across the next ridge? Why would they ever venture near the blazing fire unless they believed they could somehow, if not control it, at least be warmed by its heat? Some ran in fear, some ventured too close and were consumed.

The best were tempered by the flames. And those are the ones who made it through to the spring.