Secret at the Center
My grandmother passed away last week. Gigi died well, in her own home, holding the hand of somebody she loved very much. One day I’ll tell you more about her, but I’ll tell you now that it took Gigi 102 years to become truly herself — but in her last years, the light poured out of her like a river seeping through the cracks in an old dam. And there were cracks everywhere — Gigi looked her age and she also looked like a great, white dove.
Anyway, last Monday night I visited her and then went home and dreamed something — I don’t know what, but from what I remember Gigi sat in her chair, gleaming like the moon against a wide, silky darkness, rubbing her eyebrows like she always did when she was daydreaming.
I woke up around 6:30 AM, a few minutes before my dad called me with the news. The events of the dream evaporated so quickly, I don’t even know if there were any. All I remember is this:
The World is like a horror movie, except inverted. There is a truth at the center of every world built by a horror story — an unspeakable, dangerous, irreducible secret, an abomination that’s peeled back, layer by layer as the story unwinds. By the end, the mystery may retain its form, but the magnitude of the evil at the center is revealed. It is as bad as we all feared — maybe even worse! There is a certain satisfaction in seeing one’s most catastrophic thought realized, yes?
But the white Gigi wandering across the dark of my dream told me, the World is a lot of things, but it’s not this. The calculus of the horror movie has our attention because its function replicates a deep truth: there is, in fact, a Secret at the center of this World, and the mystery will remain in tact for each of us, forever. But the fear, the horror is just a fork in the river that seems passable, but ends, eventually, in a stagnant slough. It never makes it to the ocean.
The Secret, said my grandmother in my eventless dream on the last night of her life, is the best friend we will ever have. The Secret is deep and abundant and entertaining and kind. The Secret will nourish us all and keep us drifting on course in the strong, sea-bound channel of the river. All we have to is stand the suspense of it all.
At least that’s what Gigi told me.