Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pandora

Life is not fair. More. Life is incredibly unfair.

I always keep that in the back of my mind. But I never believe it. I always hope that accidents, and pain, and death, and destruction cease existing. I always hope that at a minimum they never affect me or those I love.

I suppose it’s foolish to hope like that. I suppose it’s foolish to assign a moral order to the universe. I suppose a lot is foolish.

Pandora was beautiful. She was created by the gods to rival even Aphrodite in appearance. The gods breathed life into her. With that came the capacity to love, feel, and learn. And they gave her curiosity. She was innocent and wonderful. And the gods gave her to a mortal man.

They were married on a beautiful day in late summer. Their guests feasted and drank, enjoying the bounty and joy of life. The day turned to evening, the evening to night. The moon was full and bright. The party was more than a celebration of love between two humans. It was a gratefulness to the gods that they had brought such happiness to their normally bleak existence.

The party died and the guests left. Husband and wife slept happily together, joined as Aristophanes had imagined, two parts put whole. In the morning, Pandora awoke as the dawn cast off its gray veil and showed its rosy cheeks.

She entered the hall and found a gift from the gods. It was a box made of the finest materials. It had ornate decorations: man on earth, the gods on Olympus, and all manner of mythical creature. Pandora could not help but pick up the box and hold it. On the box was also engraved a warning--do not open.

Pandora knew the gods would not lie to her. The gift was beautiful but it should never be opened. She put the box on display in her house. It rested on a stand that turned a brilliant orange on the autumnal equinox; lit perfectly to remind Pandora of its presence.

As the days passed she played the contented role of the wife, and the box faded from her thoughts. But then, on the autumnal equinox, the box lit up by the sun. The deep red and orange rays cast themselves onto the box and beckoned Pandora to open it.

Pandora, possessed by her curiosity, reached out and opened the box. In an instant all of the nastiest things in life escaped. Disease, famine, war, anger, hatred, fear. All jumped out of the box with vitriol and vigor, ready to subdue the world of man. Instantly filled with by her carelessness she shut the box tight to keep anything else from escaping. But she could hear one more thing in there, trying to get out.

That night she held her husband closer than she ever had before. The night was harsh and terrifying in its blackness. Time passed and everyday Pandora cursed herself for releasing such pain on the world.

Soon Pandora found herself with child. She looked at the beautiful box and heard the pounding. Sadness overcame her, for how could a child live in such a cruel world? The spring came and her belly swelled. Spring turned to summer. And Pandora was ready to have her child. On the longest day of the year, Pandora went into labor.

Pain coursed through her body. She struggled and asked that the gods have mercy on her. The entire time she could hear only the pounding of the demon in the box, trying to get out. Then the ordeal was through and she held in her arms a beautiful baby. The child cried. And the pounding would not stop.

In desperation, Pandora opened the box. Out flew--not a demon. From the box emerged Hope. The baby quieted. And Hope spread itself out.

The gods had not given man a fair fight. There would be far more evil than good. But there was always Hope.

And life remains incredibly unfair. But with each act of kindness, with each act of true benevolence, and a with a little Hope, things can get better. We put away our demons one by one until we nearly fill Pandora’s box back up.

Today I did not get good news. But I hope it’ll be better soon.