I want to end the search. I want to stand in this dark room and stare out at the gray and say that there will never be a dawn. I want to say that truth does not exist. For one person’s truth is another’s lie. One person will defend a pillar to the death which another may count as simply another tree in a sea of green. I want to say burn them all, lay the country to waste in flame, and stand amidst the smoldering trunks until I drift up with the smoke into the sky and oblivion.
But I cannot. For to say that there is no truth is to rob life of any of the satisfaction that comes with the end of a search and the discovery of a small part of a great treasure. Without the search there is no purpose in life, save to exist, to simply survive, which in essence is no existence. The only escape is death. To deny the existence of truth is to deny hope, and life becomes that dismal shell standing in the dark room above. Every fiber in me cries out, shouts, that there must be truth, that I must continue on. And hope like a tiny bright warrior stamps his little feet as thunder in my brain.
There is truth. There are things that I know. I am alive. I know that. It is a fact. After knowledge comes belief, the belief that I am alive. I am wherever I am, thrown among this thriving humanity for a reason, for a purpose. With that belief comes then the hope that I will discover at least enough of it to allow me to believe that I have accomplished a part of it when I die. If my purpose is only to search then that is enough, difficult, but enough, and hope becomes all the more important. Only I must keep moving on and not stagnate in this sea.
But I am told that I must have proof of the truth. Belief is not enough. I must have proof. God I cannot prove. I must believe for without God I am nothing and God is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Revelation, the Source of enlightenment. God is also however the Author of time, the Keeper of the hands of that great clock that spins, that wrinkles my skin and shrivels my bones. Time is the great waster. With this belief comes faith that this God somehow holds me in His hands, that there is guidance, that at times there are cracks in the gray mist, that though the fog is thick, I still sail on. I must believe and hope. Knowledge is not enough. To think on what I do not know too much is to drive me to the depths of despair where I lament the lack of time to find these answers. But I must taste of what I do not know a little for it gives me a thirst which drives me to continue on, to search, to ask questions, enough to quicken yet not to burden. I must think on what I do know for sure with proof and even that which I only believe though deeply however small. What I do not know I must leave in the same Hands that hold me. Perhaps someday it may float down the sea of time to me to be gathered and tasted and swallowed and if not to still know that there was a purpose for my never having felt its soft presence.
That is faith. That is hope. That is belief. And that is the truth. It is weary and yet it is strength.
La Yerba Buena, Managua, Nicaragua
October 10, 1988
Part of the continuing Ugly American series, a selection of writings from my travel journals from Central America in 1988