When The Applause Dies

It has long occurred to me that, overwhelmingly, people die as they have lived. If you have lived for the oxygen of adulation and applause — you will seek to breathe it in even as you breath your last. No amount of outer applause can compensate for a lack of inner assurance.

If, at the end of your life, you must exit by inviting adulation for your accomplishments — then you have failed to be a person; you have become a persona; you have neither truly known or been truly known. While this is outrageously sad — it is also tragically admired and even applauded.

Years ago, when I was fifteen, I took a bus and walked too far in the Halifax heat to talk to a cleric about the Almighty who would let cruel men into eternal bliss. I did not want to serve such an indiscriminating deity. The wise cleric gave me a kind look and a book.

The book speaks in allegory of the private perversions smugly hid behind public personas. It speaks of earthly things clung too, even as eternal bliss awaits. It spoke to me then and speaks to me now.

Son,” he said, “ye cannot in your present state understand eternity… That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.  And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why… the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly. – CS Lewis

Indeed, they do.

It is also true that my whole life through, I have never been able to watch a horror movie or even the frightening bits of films. The next script promises to be a slow moving film of #institutionalbetrayal. It would be a kindness if someone could privately elbow me and let me know when it is over — when the applause dies. The multitudes will mourn what they knew with great gusts of grief. I will mourn what I know with silent sobs.

And both will mourn truly. 


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