Monday, February 25, 2008

Is that all there is?

A friend in her mid 30s tells me “Is That All There Is” is her favorite song. She especially likes the part about dancing and breaking out the booze and having a ball.

I was about 21 when Peggy Lee made the song famous. I didn’t like its theme, that every emotionally charged experience—even death—is bound to disappoint. I wanted to be more than dust on its way to ashes. When Peggy started singing, I would flip the dial.

But I knew then, and I know even more now, how a person could feel like that. Often enough, especially in late winter with yet another storm on its way, that’s exactly how things seem.

So, if that’s all there is, should we drink and dance? Probably, at least on weekends, and if we can party without destroying our health or driving drunk.

But what if that isn’t all there is? What if we are more than dust of the ground? What if an essential part of our human nature is a spiritual component that goes far beyond what we experience with our physical senses?

Well then, dancing and drinking may still be a good response (see caveats above). What religion doesn’t celebrate joyful feasts—not because that is all there is, but because, in the words of the Nicene Creed, God is the “maker of . . . all that is, seen and unseen”?

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