Sunday, December 25, 2011

Puck on... Christmas

But look at me jabbering on, we’ve nearly passed the holiday season up.  Don’t you owe your readers another themed post?

If you like.

If I like?  Do you really care so much for my preferences?  I wouldn’t, if I were you.  In any case, I did promise to say something about this time of year.  And I do keep my promises.


Yes, really.  I think you’ll find I’m very much the creature of my word.  Anyways, it is beginning to look a lot like… well, you know.  Such a wonderful time of year, isn’t it?  By the look on your face, I’d say you didn’t agree with that.

No.  I would just imagine Christmas means as much disappointment for some people as Thanksgiving.

Oh, that and more, certainly.  There are whole syndromes about what the season does to people.

Is that why you call it “wonderful”?

You wound me.  I’m not nearly so sadistic as you make me out to be.  (I’m much more!)  But, no, I call it “wonderful” because it’s full of wonder.  As in I wonder sometimes if any of you will ever get it.

Get what?

The significance of this “season” as you call it.

Many people have noted how the celebration seems to have overtaken the actual event.

Speak English, boy, or don’t speak at all.

The holiday is all about presents, what we get out of it, instead of the real reason.

Yes, yes, that’s it.  Consumerism!  The great devil of your age.  It is better to receive than give.  Me, me, mine, mine, more, more, more.  He who dies with the most toys…  Right?  But is that really the worst thing about all of it?

It’s not?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, your greed is simply delicious.  The fact that advertisers can take you in every year without fail, that you will shell out so much for what will mean a moment’s happiness at best, is continually entertaining.  But, in the end, all of it, the whole holiday industrial complex, is merely a distraction, and one of many.  Now, many people will, once they realized that, start genuinely working to eliminate this distraction.  They will preach the gospel of less, how we ought to spend less on ourselves, less on things, and more on others, invest in our family, more Tiny Tim, less Scrooge, and all those very good things.  And those people may be quite sincere in their efforts, but the fact is they are just as off the mark as the shoppers.  That’s the thing about you humans, most of the time, even your charity is a distraction. 

The question you need to ask is not: how can I get rid of this distraction?  The question you need to ask is: what am I being distracted from?  Because, and this is an important lesson, you will never get where you need to go by ridding yourselves of distractions, certainly not by replacing one distraction with another.  You will only succeed by finding the thing you are supposed to be focusing on, the thing your distractions have been keeping you from, and follow it.  Because when you do the distractions will handle themselves.

So, what are we being distracted from?

The importance.  The absolute, monumental, universal, importance of the event you celebrate.

The Birth of Christ.

Bingo.  But that you still miss, even when celebrating it.  The nativities, the creches, the little light up shepherds and the plastic haloes, what exactly does that convey about the event?  Imagine, if you will, how it really happened.  Night.  A cave somewhere in a dirt town in the backwoods of the world.  A girl, scared out of her mind.  A man who had no idea what he was getting into.  A struggle, the most humble struggle anything can experience: to live, to simply breathe.  Dirt and sweat and the stench of cattle.  The whole thing is so mundane as to be disgusting.  And yet, here, something happened beyond human comprehension.  A birth.  A miraculous birth, you may recognize it as.  But it is more.  It is an invasion.  It is D-day.  The beginning of the end.  There is significance here, profound significance, the weight of the very world rests in that manger.  All of my kind knows that day, all of us remember it, with pain.

Then why are you smiling?

Look outside.  Look at those people rushing to and fro.  How many of them do you think actually realize any of that?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Puck on... Antagonism

Now that does bring up something worthy of note.

If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem?

Yes.  What a very human thing to say.  How telling of your philosophy.

Elaborate, please.

Well, since you asked so nicely.  Firstly, it belies the hypocrisy of your age.  In an era where absolutes are regarded as unenlightened and truth is relative, that you would have such a statement, which itself leaves no room for neutrality, no space for moral relativism.  But that’s not what should interest us at this point.  We’ll get to relativism later; I have much to say about that, I assure you.

But the statement really points to a very central tenet, as it were, of your personal universal philosophy.  We might call it the “Us and Them” paradigm.

You’re referring to the habit of people to form parties and factions to the exclusion of others.

Very astute.  And so concise and philosophical-sounding.  I bet that made you feel good, to use such big words.  Anyway, you are correct.  You humans are always splintering off into little groups, little gangs, little cliques.  It’s quite cute, and it would be harmless but for what it makes you do.  And here names come in again, for we must have some way to really distinguish “us” from “them”.  It may be as simple as that little pronoun or it can become very complex and droll even.  You see, humans have a natural inclination to define themselves, to literally name themselves.  (You must remind me to speak more on that for a later post.)  You seek to define yourselves, to link your identity with the group, to say you belong, to make sure no one mistakes you for “them” rather than “us”.

And that in itself might be benign but for where it inevitably takes you.  The Us/Them dynamic is never cordial but always and ever adversarial.  Why?  Because you need an enemy.  There are so many uses for a good antagonist.  It cements that group identity, and, of course, it’s always nice to have someone to blame.  There must be a “them” to oppose the “us”.  Trust me on this, I’ve seen it happen again and again.  I wish you could see things from my perspective, how comical it is.  You blame your enemy, accuse them of seeking to harm you in some way.  You may be right, you may be wrong, but what’s funny is it doesn’t occur to you that your enemy may just be saying the same thing about you, and, in fact, most certainly is.  Often, each side blames the other for what are shared problems.

And what’s even more amazing is when you do realize that your enemy has the same philosophy of “us” and “them” only in the reverse.  Because, while you might think that would drive you to seriously consider your ideas to make sure they aren’t due to your perspective alone, it so rarely leads to that.  The philosophy remains.  “Yes, they may say the same things about us, but we are right.”  You accuse them of the sin, while maintaining your own innocence.  “They” are always wrong and “you” are always right.  It’s something of a Napoleonic martyr complex that pervades your entire race.

But the idea goes so much deeper than any of you might realize or want to.  You see there is always an “us”, but how that “us” is defined changes.  “Them” may refer to a real threat one moment and suddenly include the man next to you a moment later.  Because the problem goes right to the root: you.  Because that “us” starts with you.  The two parties are you and everyone else.  Anyone you would like to include in that little circle is up to you.  And that, by the way, is how it always ends up.  You may maintain that “us” for a good long while, but, in the end, it’s you, what you get out of it.  In the end, you stand alone.  Naked you came.  And naked you go.

Ha, that almost rhymed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Puck on... Hope

I hope I haven’t upset you.  I realize these things can seem a bit depressing.  Then again, reality often is. 

Well, there must be some hope.

I would expect you to say that.  But let’s be careful here.  Analyze that thought.  Is it born out of honest faith that hope springs eternal?  Or is it not out of fear?  The fear that it just might be true and all your fears and trials and tribulations might not be transitory.  That the valley will go on forever.  “Life sucks, then you die.”

I don’t believe that.

Of course not, it’s depressing.  Then again, listen to what’s coming out of your mouth.  Not “I know it can’t be”, or “it isn’t true”, but “I believe”.  You believe.  This is not an issue of the facts but of your own little ideas about how the world ought to be.  You don’t know.  You just believe.  You hope for hope’s sake.  Because to not would mean dealing with harsh realities.  And, don’t we both know, you just don’t have it in you.

You no doubt have some pithy prepared answer.  Go ahead.

That’s a rather dim view.

Of course it is; darkness has that quality.  The absence of light is quite dim.  And who’s to blame?  Me?  Oh, no, my boy.  It is you.  Actions have consequences; a lesson your species is hard pressed to learn.  You make your choices, you make your bed.  And now you must deal with it.  And how silly that you’ve seemed to have forgotten this.  That the very facts of your existence astonish you.  You’ve turned your back on the sun and are surprised to find a shadow.

And that does bring up a more interesting point.  Has it ever occurred to you that your hopes and dreams and desires fail so often not because of the particular things or places or situations themselves but because of something much more obvious?

What would that be?

You.  These things fail because you are involved.  The common factor in every human endeavor is humans.  You, flawed, tiny, dirty, clumsy, little creature that you are.  Everything you touch, everything you are spells doom.  You are doomed.

But you said before that the things we put our hope in fail because they are flawed.

Trying to hang me with my own words, are we?  Careful.  I’ve traded logic with the best of them.  Yes, the things you hope for are imperfect and undeserving of your hope.  And yet you persist in attaching your hope to them.  How could they help but break with what you’re doing to them.  You give them more weight than they can bear.  And don’t you see what that says about you?

Insanity.  As I said before.  Repeating the same mistakes, the same sins, again and again and again.  Never learning, never growing, always persisting, worse and worse and worse.  As you humans say: if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  But what to do when you are the problem?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Puck on... Disappointment


You were saying you would explain why humans are so prone to disappointment.

Ah, yes.  But don’t you already know the answer?

Do I?

Don’t play coy.  It’s simple logic.  You constantly put your hope in things only to be disappointed.  Why?  What does it mean when you put water in a jar only to have it leak?  The jar is flawed.  Such with what you put your hope in.  Oh, the things you hope in, so ill-equipped to hold what you invest in them.  You know why?  They are of the world.  How can they help but be imperfect?

People.  Places.  Things.  It doesn’t matter.  You fancy each equally.  You put your hope in where you live, what you have, who you’re with.  And the repeated past disappointments don’t deter you in the least.  You always think, always, that this house, this job, this town, this haircut, will make it all better.  This time, this person.  But they can’t.  They never can.  You hype them up to unrealistic proportions, choose to focus only on those aspects that you think will make them last, ignoring the parts that will certainly doom them and you.

Why, you may wonder, do you keep doing this?  Don’t look at me.  You accomplish this all by yourselves.  You want it to work.  And that desire always spells failure.  Because the more you want it to work the more you pile on your anticipations to that place or person or situation.  And these feeble things you put your hope in simply can’t bear the weight of your expectations.  And so, that job is never what you thought it would be.  That place is never as amazing as you dreamed.  That person never makes you as happy as you hoped. 

And here’s the lesson.  You would think that a lifetime of disappointment would teach you something, would educate you as to the nature of these things.  That if you would only hold them lightly, as fragile things should be held, then you might actually draw enjoyment from them, rather than clutching them so tightly you crush them.  But you never learn.  And the wonderful thing about it is how it makes you act the next time.  Instead of hoping less, you hope more.  Instead of realizing that that job or place or person is never going to be as perfect as in your own mind, you start thinking that they ought to be so.  You are disappointed because they fail to deliver something they can’t possibly provide, and you hate them for it.  As if the failure were theirs and not yours.  Disappointment turns to resentment and resentment to bitterness.  And bitterness is, oh, so sweet, at least to my palate.

It is the vicious cycle of hope.