Today, I placed a single white rose on Kurt Vonnegut’s grave.
Well… kind of. Today I went on a wild goose chase for Kurt Vonnegut’s grave, ultimately learned that his final resting place is unknown to anyone, and instead left a rose on his father’s grave, but I mean, it was the same name, so a win, right?
In the art of transparency, I wouldn’t consider myself to be a Vonne-groupie in any fashion. I only ever read Vonnegut because my dad told me to.
Despite the fact that everything I have ever read by Vonnegut vastly contradicts everything I have ever heard my dad say about life… Mark Timm loved the guy.
And that is why I went searching for his grave today, because, one of the unchecked life boxes on my dad’s long list of things he wanted to do was to leave a single white rose of thanks to Kurt Vonnegut.
So today I checked that box off for him…kind of.
I always loved that my dad loved Kurt Vonnegut, because it made absolutely no sense to me.
The Mark I knew was a man who made house rules like “don’t call during Tucker Carlson unless it is an ABSOLUTE emergency.” A man like that simply does not read Vonnegut.
My dad, his right-winged beliefs, and his love for Vonnegut, it was all such a contradiction.
I have recently fallen in love with contradictions.
Over the past few months as I navigated some pretty wonky roads, I learned that the more beautifully contradictory this life can be, the more fascinated I am by it. Because really, every meaningful aspect of life is balanced by contradiction, and to deny this fact while living this life is a paradox in itself.
We are all a bunch of oxymorons, and I swear I mean that in the most endearing way possible. I strive to be an oxymoron, because the people I love most, the characteristics that drive me toward one soul over another, is how beautifully oxymoronic they are.
I love people who are both awkward and graceful. I love people who are both gentle and unyielding. I love people who color my life with thought, and passion, and acceptance, and loads and loads of irony.
My favorite people are contradictions, because I admire people who live life well, and the fact of the matter is, life is a contradiction. It always has been. It always will be.
For a while that freaked me out. There is no control in this, in a life of contradictions. There is no control when you feel multiple things at once, and you feel them so intensely, and yet these things, these emotions, theoretically, should be forces set against each other.
It seems like there should not be room for all of this emotion, and yet life makes room, your heart makes room, and it all coexists, but it still just doesn’t make sense. There is no control.
There is no control when you are filled to the brim with both love and loss.
There is no control when you feel happy and grief stricken at the same time.
There is no control when you lose everything but proceed into days of a life that somehow still fulfills you. A life that you, for whatever reason, be it faith, or hope, or love, are still excited to see the tomorrow of.
Beautiful girl, there was never going to be control. Whether you accept life’s crazy contradictions or not, you will never call the shots.
We, as humans, tend to want to feel one emotion at a time. We want to feel happy, and then maybe sad, and then happy again. We want a life where if there is going to be grief then it better be a clear, consistent, matter. We want it to play out in a way where we love, then we grieve, and then we love again, or we don’t, nothing more to it.
No matter how it all plays out, we want it all separated, easy to navigate. We don’t like it when it rains while the sun is out. That confuses us, and we make up crazy anecdotes to justify the chaos by saying things like, “The devil is beating his wife.”
We don’t want things to overlap because that’s messy. We don’t want life to overlap, to contradict, because that confuses us. We don’t feel the right to be happy when life gets heavy, when something sad happens. We want to separate our emotions into bite-sized pieces like syrup compartments on a waffle. When life is sad, we want to feel sad, but not for forever. We want to feel sad long enough for sadness to run its course.
But from my experience, I think it’s safe to say that this doesn’t always happen.
From my experience, life seems to be a pancake.
Sad things don’t always run their course. Sometimes, life resolves in ways that we prayed against, and therefore, there is pain even in the resolution. Sad things may never stop being sad. People will never stop being dead, and the holes that they leave can never be filled.
There are some things in life that you will simply never not be sad about, and leaving this fact alone, as it is, can suffocate you. But that’s where we find the beauty in life’s capability to contradict. In life, there is plenty of room for happy, even as we carry pain.
How cool is it that we live in a world where this is a possibility?
How cool is it that we live in a world where shattered hearts can fall in love?
How cool is it that we live in a world where complete muscle demolition is the foundation of strength?
How cool is it that we live in a world where dreams can manifest inside of devastating circumstance?
How cool is it that we live in a world where we can fall in love as we learn someone rather than just after?
How cool is it that we live in a world where people can thrive even as they process?
How cool is it that we live in a world where people can be both fierce and gentle, vulnerable and cautious, logical and poetic?
How cool is it that we live in a world where there is plenty of room for life’s many contradictions?
Beautiful girl, this life, every single day of it, has the potential to be beautiful, and hard, and chaotic, and flowing, and horrifying, and fulfilling, and so very scattered.
This life is a contradiction, a beautiful one, a horrendous one, an all of the above at once kind of thing.
And you get to live every messy inch of it.
In the words of our dear friend, Kurt, “So it goes.”