The Hole in Everything
Adam returned home from naming the animals as he always did, tired and overworked, if such a notion could be said to exist at the beginning of his time. In fact, Adam claimed every right to this feeling, since he had filled the task of nomenclature with the kind of pride that elevated his position from that of simple namer to the grand inventor of all things.
“Don’t you see?” he had once posited to Eve, almost accusingly, “I’ve been entrusted with what the beasts will be, and so my only conceivable place in this land is to decide what All things shall be.”
And thus all things became Adam’s domain, and he set about turning this into that, making mountains of molehills, though more literally than colloquially, in some ways. He began counting how many times the sun came around, and called these appearances “days.” He found their sleeping conditions lacking, and began constructing the first bed out of leaves held together with sap and a frame of intertwined branches. He dabbled in fashion, designing new ways to conceal their nakedness and awareness of such through a single buckskin. Yes, the naming of the beasts of the land had turned into the eventual (inevitable?) killing of the beasts of the land, for they served many purposes in Adam’s makeshift inventor’s lab, a cave with a posted sign warning intruders—admittedly, only Eve—from disturbing him.
This boundary line, which Adam had assured Eve was only so that he would not be distracted by her beauty while he was working, had nonetheless been Adam’s design and subsequently the curse shared by them both.
A boundary, once invented, creates exclusion, no matter intent.
This proverb was just something Eve had thought of on one of her many long and lonely days without a true partner on this earth. She knew that in the beginning God had created all things. What she could not determine was whether, once Adam had set about turning these things into other things, creation was an action meant for humans. Or, rather, whether certain rearrangements of the natural order were to be considered creations at all. Or (put another way still), whether Adam was the one to call the shots, so to speak. How to name a monster without the language, or authority.
Adam seemed more to Eve like a sorcerer than any architect of good in this world. He only purported to invent from a place of necessity (“Wouldn’t it be better,” he always began), but Eve often pondered whether the first invention was the idea of the necessity itself. Where once she felt pride concerning her body, he conjured up shame. Where once she was happy with sleeping on a soft patch of dirt, he “enlightened” her to a bed of leaves, which then rendered the dirt patches untenable. Where once her life was boundless, time now constrained her to endless days. It began to occur to Eve that the story told through Adam’s imagination only made the world a bit less vivid, colors muted by second-rate hues imposed on the canvas. As if life was not livable, in Adam’s world.
One only feels the weight of a gift freely given by God, she began to articulate, when one begins to measure and turn it over in one’s palms.
Eve suddenly became aware of Adam’s presence next to her, or more exactly, adjacent to her. He was staring up at an inattentive moon, while his hands fiddled with some contraption, his face unreadable in the dim light of nightfall. Eve gazed in the direction of his sightline, wondering if he prayed like she did, if he ever paused to celebrate and mourn the earth as it never would be again.
Ben Lewellyn-Taylor is an educator, a graduate student in theology, and contributor at DJBooth, where he writes about hip hop, race, and religion. His work has previously appeared in Epigraph, AUSTERE, and eleven40seven.