I’ve seen some truly heinous shit in my day but the panic that gripped me as this music video progressed was terrifying.
I think this has more than a little to do with the birth of my first child, an incredible experience that occurred just over a week ago. When she emerged slick and squirming from my wife’s birth canal I could feel the neurons in my brain twitching with a busy psychedelic electricity, their axons plumbing to new depths while fingers of delicate dendrites spread outwards to deposit a bumper crop of synapses into my grey matter. The initial effect was euphoria, unlike any I had ever felt; nothing can prepare you for it; there is no fitting analogy to aptly describe the wholesale expansion of conciousness that takes place when a new member of your family arrives.
Much ado is made of the love that floods through you in that moment – and let me assure you, it’s there in prodigious quantities – but the fear that slowly creeps up your spine when the medical equipment is wheeled out and you are left alone with your swaddled heir is rarely mentioned. In the apt words of Jerry Holkins, “they’re only using the word fear because they don’t know what else to call it, how to name that rising, primal ice one feels when faced with the hanging jowls of the unknowable.”
You quickly realize that the world you have inhabited for the past few decades is not fit for human life, or rather (I should say), for this human life. She is too delicate, too pure; too beautiful, too sweet. I could not bear the thought that any harm might befall her and I wasn’t quite sure it would be wise to ever leave that hospital.
A few years back I finally refined enough mental rocket fuel to propel me free of my inherited belief system’s gravity. You know, the one where you can avoid an eternity of perpetual immolation by placing your trust in a two-millennia-old fully-God-and-fully-man jewish carpenter? To be clear, the after-death insurance policy isn’t what kept me there for so long but the idea of an always-there, infinitely wise best friend who had a ‘plan’ for my life. The entirety of my psyche was stuck in a mental holding pattern, waiting in vain for the God of the Universe to tell me what it was that ‘He’ wanted me to do. Many of my former fellow congregants spoke smiling and glassy-eyed about how there was ‘freedom in Christ’ but I honestly never understood what that meant. It just felt like torturous cognitive incarceration to me.
And again, when that warm, initial giddy wave that accompanied my new-found spiritual freedom receded back, a cold realization deposited itself like jagged, rusty flotsam on the shore of my mind: no one is minding the store. There is no ultimate authority on right and wrong, no final judgement on those who seek to harm, no all-powerful hand to ensure that love ultimately prevails…
...no perfect being to protect her.
So yeah, this video! It’s messy, and raw, and real. And watching the narrative unfold in reverse (as expertly directed by Ellis Bahl) grips me with terror: who is her father? Does he know where she is? Can he get there in time? Who will save her?
I know it’s just a music video but this all could have (and, in all likelihood, probably has) happened here, in the real world. And just as I have decided to shrug off the illusory restrictions of some distant, intensely-interested-in-my-future deity, I am also determined to not be held in captive fear by all the potential ultimately-out-of-my-control ways harm could materialize around my daughter. I guess what I’m trying to explicate here is that, in spite of all this, I still have a say in the matter; I am endowed with the freedom to contribute my efforts, no matter how small, to shaping this marvelous plane of existence, too.
A sometimes scary but blindingly beautiful world awaits your discovery, Maia; there is so much I want to show you.