By Dan Carpenter on 3/5/12
Servitium interuptus - we’ll continue on ‘fair’ shortly, in the meantime -
I’m obsessed with the number 222. Can’t tell you why, not logically - it was my first real break with what we see, what science says. So, wish fulfillment perhaps? A single symptom of the larger disease which is the desire for social acceptance? Let me explain.
It came about like this - I was fifteen and riding along with my friend Ben on what we called a ‘stealth.’ Sounds sneaky. It wasn’t. A stealth was us jumping in his truck and driving - for hours - till we found a likely diner, had coffee, and would drive back.
This of course all happened in between midnight and five am.
And we would talk. About all if it. Reality. Goodness. God. Gods. Politics. Girls. And of course, nonsense.
One bit of nonsense was when Ben told me that everyone (everyone) was seeing triple digits on the clock - ALL THE TIME. That this was a THING.
I must have felt left out.
I quickly adopted twotwentytwo. Or perhaps, just perhaps, it adopted me. Causality is always tricky in a complex world - especially when it comes to nonsense. And this, in many ways, was my first jump into it. None sense and I had always had a Vulcan detachment - I had no patience for it.
But something of this idea swept me up. Ridiculously, it opened my very ordered and rational (or so I thought) mind. I asked myself, the fifth time I’d noticed the number in one day, ‘if something utterly silly like this is possible, then whatever else might be?’
And the world opened for me. And swallowed me whole.
Anyways, I went on in life with stealths forgotten in favor of far worse behavior between midnight and dawn, but this stuck with me. To this day I am not surprised when I happen to look at what page I’m on and it seems, invariably, to be 222. It’s in my email address. In my phone number. And has been, in the past, in my address.
Shoot. I even used to own twotwentytwo.com.
All of which is why I am quite familiar with Psalm 18. Or, as I know it, Samuel 2 Chapter 22.
At sixteen, as part of my ‘assume nothing’ approach to the investigation of reality, I dove into this bible verse. Sure, so sure, that in it there was perhaps a key to the great why of my existence. I was alone. I was more than a little curious. And I was obsessed with the idea of figuring it out. So I obsessed over this verse. And later, the bible.
It’s all I did.
Other sixteen year olds had girlfriends. Not me. Well, not for long anyways. Nope. I was too busy pondering truth (this is NOT a recommendation FYI). Drawing diagrams. Writing essays. Doing… experimental research into perception.
I was, I think we can say, lost.
The nice thing was, I knew it. Knowing you’re lost is half way to being found. And I worked, if inefficiently, then tirelessly towards getting there.
So I explored all of it. Well, almost all of it.
I read the Bible. I read the Koran. I read the Mahabharata. I read of the Tao.I opened myself to elemental forces. I looked for auras. I went on spirit quests. I spoke, at length, with anyone of learning. And I read. And read. And read.
Eventually, tired, I realized that while I hadn’t found much, I had learned a few things. I concluded that Sarte was a poser, and that I think therefore I am insufficiently addressed the question of perception or memory and came up with: I think I thought I think therefore I think I thought I think I am. And that, at the end of the day, was about as certain as I was willing to be.
And time passed. The meaning of 222 changed for me - around 19 I started claiming it was a comment on the dichotomy of human thought, the twos representing our bipolar logic and the three digits representing the insolvable, the indivisible (3 into 10), the imperfection of all man’s efforts to name and make this world his. Yeah. Really. And from there, bit by bit, the meaning became simpler. It became a symbol of the search itself. Of fear and of hope. Of wile and of will.
And I grew as a person in the between time. I managed from that hope of discovery as a teen to get to the pseudo adult life that proceeded my life today. I found love, or thought I did. I found art. I found poetry. I found many truths… that might not be absolute but were certainly true, to me. I started to let myself get attached to the world.
A huge change from the creature of intellect, passion, and fear that I was.
I set pascal and schrodinger to the side and for once, finally, just existed.
Which is when that seed hatched. That seed planted long ago by that first silly what if which took me out of the ordinary and into my quest for the extraordinary.
You see, the whole time, I was in pain.
I was lonely.
I hurt. Really hurt.
I was utterly abandoned in my heart.
I knew only that I could do - not why I should or what.
This is why I looked so hard, turning stones and digging holes.
Think, please, for a moment about the mind that conceives ‘I think I thought I think therefore I think I thought I think I am’ as the best truth to be found - trapped between the fallibility of memory and perception… and realize how breathtakingly alone that person is.
That was me.
For most of my life.
And yet, I kept searching. I wanted, so badly. I wanted to believe.
And then that seed hatched.
That God would be my rock. My fortress. My friend.
I cannot express to you in words what that meant to me after 10 years of searching.
It had grown from a seed of an idea into something so real, so raw, so needed… the walls collapsed. I was redeemed - in my own eyes and in Gods and for once - at heart - I wasn’t lonely.
A seed that had sewn roots for years - its ground my pain, it’s water my desperation - shot up a sapling of faith, fragile and strong all at once.
It grew leaf and flourished as I finally set my burden down and chose to believe. Just as later I would learn to choose to love. I learned, mixed in with the rest, responsibility. Life became real. people became real. Schrodinger be damned - I let go of potentials that went nowhere. Ideas that shone bright but illuminated only darkness. Abandoning, forever, absolutes and perfect truths. Embracing redemption, family, and hope.
And once I did?
The world opened for me again.
And this time, instead of swallowing me whole, it gave me life. It gave me purpose. And I learned all the other things I write about in these blogs.
But not today.
Today it’s just a story. A slice of testimony.
Because whatever you call it - Psalm 18 or Samuel 2 22 - I owe that verse my heart, as it is the seed God planted in me so long ago that gave branch, and honestly, aside from ‘read it,’ I don’t have much to add.
Like a tree, like a flower, like life itself - it is perfectly what it is and all I can do is pay homage. Which I do, gladly, with endless thanks for my redemption, for my today, and for tomorrow.
(The photo is me in the midst of the journey - in southern Turkey at 19, wearing…. well, it was colorful and traditional, thats about all I can say to that.)