A friend of mine was recently on a bike ride through one of Vancouver B.C.’s gorgeous green parks when he stumbled upon a scene that through him for a loop: a beach packed with young urbanites, methodically beating hundreds of drums in what appeared to be some sort of spiritual ritual. The whole experience had the unnerving scent of a scene from a cultic Norse tale.
Vancouver is one the most diverse, technologically advances and irreligious cities on the West Coast. How does one make sense of such a scene? David Foster Wallace, in his book Infinite Jest tells a number of stories of the struggle of many in our postmodern age to make sense of their lives. He notes that “American experience seems to suggest that people are virtually unlimited in their need to give themselves away, on various levels. “. An inseparable part of life today is to break out of our flat, scientific age and to experience a deeper sense of life and reality. This means that as we live, we don’t just get by. We seek to be possessed by sometime bigger than ourselves.
For some this is drugs. For some sex. For some family. For some career. For some a combination of all or some of these. We need to give ourselves up to something outside of us, something that will fill our being with a sense of bigger and more profound existence. We seek life changing experiences. We seek to experience a passion and love for something that is powerful enough to move us through the thick waters of life.
To give yourself away is to be human. The question then, is “Why?” Why can’t we just keep to ourselves and create meaning inside ourselves? Why must we always be looking out to bigger things? Why do we have eyes, if we live in a world of darkness? Why do we hold a compass if we are merely sailing through infinite space? Does this possibly infer the fact that there is something out there that has set our gaze at such an angle, some One who seeks to capture that gaze and fill the empty soul with the meaning it craves?
Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest (p. 53). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.