In Which Noah Experiences Depression & Sees a Rainbow
“That dove,” I informed Him, “has been wreaking havoc all over the Ark. He’s insubordinate. How am I supposed to concentrate on feeding the leopards and the rabbits, when that dove is always flapping around the ark, monopolizing all the attention?”
~Noah, Diluvium 16
Well, here it is: the second to last post of Diluvium. Two Mondays from now, we’ll be starting a brand new story! I hope you’ve enjoyed experiencing Noah’s trials and tribulations with me. Here are a few more tribulations, and a light at the end of the tunnel.
In Which Noah Experiences Depression & Sees a Rainbow
Forty days and forty nights of rough sailing in a damp menagerie is enough to put anyone off their sea legs for life. By now it had been raining for nearly six solid weeks, and I felt like my feet had become permanently moldy.
“Look at all this rain,” I grumbled, trudging into the galley for breakfast one morning. (There was water in the oatmeal again.) “I can’t even see any stars or landmarks through the drizzle. I have two questions: where are we? And does it ever stop raining here?”
And God said, “Welcome to Portland.”
We floated around a good bit, visiting most of the soon-to-be continents and all seven locations of the future wonders of the world, but for all we could see of any of it, we might as well have been floating on the same misty, grey duck pond for weeks on end. Have you ever been trapped in a car with a bunch of howling children, on a really long road trip? Right, well now imagine that you’re the in same situation, only the “car” is a drafty ark; the “children” are 8.74 million whimpering, barking, stinking animals (some of them capable of mauling you to death when aggrieved … and being as how they were trapped in a confined space with a limited turning radius, they were mostly aggrieved); and the “road” is an endless ocean with no rest stops, nowhere to pull over, and no bathroom breaks.
There was the inevitable sniping and moaning, and bitter accusations about whose turn it was to feed the Asiatic lion (who had somehow acquired rabies at some point along the journey), but once things got settled and we all became accustomed to our routine, it mostly just boiled down to boredom, and angst. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to do with myself. By profession, I’m a tiller of the soil, which of course is difficult when there’s no soil around to till, because it’s all been covered up by an enormous blanket of water deeper than the Atlantic Ocean. I suppose it was inevitable that I’d have to taken on a second career path, but “floating zookeeper” never had any part in my life goals or ambitions, and I began to question the meaning of my existence. Well, this is not a healthy thing to do when you’re trapped in a small, confined space with a large number of seasick animals, and rain drumming down constantly on the roof like a funeral march. I hadn’t seen a single ray of sunshine in a month, and of course, my Vitamin D level plummeted, and there was no bringing it back because the grizzly bear had eaten up all the canned tuna. And I fell into a depression. If people could stick to questioning the purpose of life only when it’s sunny out and they’re feeling cheerful, things would be a whole lot easier, and the antidepressant industry would plunge, but unfortunately, most of us tend to think about this question mainly when we’ve hit rock bottom.
I felt a lot of self-pity and looking back, I don’t think it was wholly unjustified. But the confusing thing about me and pity is that, historically, I’ve never received any, and I can’t understand this. Everyone has all this compassion for Job. You almost never hear them say, “poor Noah, look at all his trials and afflictions.” It’s always “Job this” and “Job that,” as if losing all your possessions and getting stuck with a minor skin rash or two is worse than losing 99% of the Earth’s ecosystem, and all your possessions. (Except for the goddamn cat.)
But there is an end to every tunnel. One morning, I peered out the window and there was a streak of light, limpid and graceful, staining the wet, grey sky with soft, radiant colors in every shade.
Oh my God. You just can’t fully appreciate the beauty of a rainbow until you’ve been trapped in a dark ark in the middle of a monsoon for a hundred and fifty days.
Then God’s voice rang out over the face of the abating waters. He made a long, somewhat formal announcement, but the basic gist of it was that He had decided never to wipe out all of mankind with a Flood again. Well, that was nice of Him. (Of course, you don’t want to read more into it than is really there. Next time He wants to wipe us out, He’ll probably just use an earthquake, or a hammer or something.) But still, it was a nice thought. He said that in the future, the rainbow would be dedicated to me, as a symbol of His pledge, so that whenever He saw it shining in the sky, it would remind Him of his promise (just in case He forgot) and He would make it stop raining.
In the end, it was a symbol that my son Shem essentially stole. That was MY rainbow. But it has been appropriated, maliciously and intentionally, to represent a cause I never played any part in whatsoever. It used to be that any time anyone saw a rainbow, they thought of me. But nowadays, you see rainbows on every flag and bumper sticker across town, and if anyone still thinks of me, it’s probably with some extremely erroneous misconceptions about my sexual orientation. However, I’ve given up trying to control my historical reputation. It’s a losing battle, because if you have a historical reputation then, by definition, you’re dead, so there’s nothing you can do about it. That is what I call a no-win situation. ♦
(To be continued…)