If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the No’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark.
— Death Cab for Cutie
I love that song. It’s haunting.
It’s also one of the profoundly saddest things I’ve ever heard.
All the passion of a life well-lived. All the joys of our beautiful moments. All the love exchanged between us. When it ends, it’s gone. Briefly remembered, perhaps. But then gone, into the dark.
Or, conversely: all the pain and suffering of a hard life. All the violence of our ugliest moments. Brutal words and fists and bullets exchanged between us. When it ends, it’s gone. Nothing is ever made right. Victims remain victims. Hope for justice is merely dust in the wind.
If there is nothing beyond this moment, no punchline to the joke, no resolution to the story, no payoff to the buildup, no redemption of the protagonist, no justice, no peace…
If this is all there is…
Well, first of all, it would break every rule of good literature. It would be profoundly unsatisfying, even as a tragedy. The existential cliffhanger.
But it would also fail to give explanation to what wells up in my soul when I hear a story of sacrificial love. To my desperate desire to know that my children will be okay in this world. To the precious comfort I find in the embrace of a loved one. To the way my heart bursts from my chest, the way my arms feel like they could take flight, when I witness the soul-humbling beauty from the top of a mountain.
If this is all there is.
No. NO. There is more. There must be.
If this is all there is, then the deepest, richest impulses of the human race have, curiously, far outstripped the reality of a bitterly tragic existence. If there is no resolution to the human story, if there is nothing but a cold, indifferent emptiness, if all of this culminates in…naught, then our best and truest and noblest thoughts were nothing more than wishful fantasy.
No. My soul knows with utter certainty what my mind cannot. There is more. There must be.