I read this:
It was great. Here’s why.
Bernadette, the mom, is a creative genius. [This should sound familiar to you already.] She is married to Elgie, the dad, and he is a patient, hard-working, nice guy who works too hard to provide for his family. [yes, yes, again, familiar.] Then, there is their only daughter, Bee (short for Balakrishna), who was born premature and blue.
When Bee was born, Bernadette made a deal with God. She promised God that if Bee would live and be healthy that she would never create again.
The glitch with making a deal with God is well illustrated by all of Greek and Roman mythology and half of the Bible. We are human, not gods. And if we are God-like (or made in his image) then we are as like God as a shadow is like the person standing in the sun. We are a likeness, a reflection, a shadow of god. We are attracted to light, love, and beauty, and creation, but also pulled toward struggling darkness, treachery, wrongdoing, betrayal, and sin. We rebel against god and his likeness. Maybe it’s just too high of a standard for any human. What pressure?!?! People love to rebel against the people/the things that we are the most like (um, the second that we think we are becoming what our parents want us to be, we start shaving our heads, and piercing things, and drinking and smoking, and driving too fast, and having teenage sex or find any way to rebel to distance ourselves from the inevitable likeness of our creators.) All over the world we have different fundamentalists fighting each other. Why? Because their sect and their neighbor's sect are equally fired up—it’s a treat when you have that much in common but have only a slight difference (be it a generation gap, or a language barrier, or a different name for the same god, town, government); see also, the presidential election.
When we make a deal with God we always use the biggest, baddest bargaining chip that we can muster up—the chip with the most enormous emotional and personal heft. As if to deal with God, we have to go all in (how else could we even contend?) What is the one thing that I have that God might want or respect? I will trade my creative genius for my daughter’s life/health or trade my soul to play the blues. The deal will never work for us. It will always backfire. God really can’t be “dealt” with. It’s our naive and desperate mistake. How could we win? It’s a terrible gamble.
How could giving up your genius or soul make God happy? And who are we to make that kind of deal? It never works (go back and read every myth ever written); mostly it doesn’t work because we are human. We barter the most important essential thing to us (or second most), and then later we can’t keep the deal because that thing that was so important to barter with is our very essence—it is who we are. It is the cotton of our lives.
The deal is always better for the deal taker. Think Rumpelstiltskin. That fucker. He always knew that people would bargain away anything to get what the thought they wanted in that moment—we are so into instant gratification that we will trade our hair for a fancy comb. Ol’ Rumpelstiltskin will always win. It’s human nature.]
Back to Bernadette: the genius of this story is that Bernadette made the deal with God and never told Elgie or Bee. She just rotted away inside and lived in a decaying house and disappeared from herself and her family all because she made a bad bet and never told her family the truth.
The story is a great lesson (for me right now). Don’t make deals with God. Tell your spouse the truth. Let your family love you. They will love you. And if you don’t create you will become a menace to society. Do I want to be a menace to society? No. So, HD, create. Talk to your family. And stop making deals with God.
Where'd You Go. Bernadette? is a great, fun, interesting beautifully written, funny book. You should read it.
Listening to: Violent Femmes "Fat" http://youtu.be/EmF3Ze3nKYc