[Previously on Wonderers: We have breached time using our imagination, we have punctured the veil of distance, seeing as far as the end of the universe, and beyond, theorizing new dimensions heretofore unfathomable. Is one more orbit round the sun seriously it, the major annual event for which we have cause to celebrate a person’s life? Is that our ‘special’ day, none other matching it?]
How about the day we woke up and stopped being someone else, settling into our skins? Is that not an auspicious event, an anniversary worth celebrating with friends and family every year?
How about celebrating our most precious Madeleine moments, the ones that ripped open the veil, sending us on our journeys of self-discovery and transformation?
How about the day we realized all life is precious, each living organism a unique node in the great network of life on Earth, perhaps even beyond, the grand interface of the cosmos emerging from the deep reaches of space and hyperspace?
How about our tangible connection to a celestial body, mystical and influential, or our lasting bridges to a deceased loved one, our memories and vision of those we lost and loved and will forever love and cherish guiding us ahead, our dearly departed, filling us with purpose, helping us accomplish all things of importance in our lives?
It would be more fitting, I think, the capacity of our sapience, our self-declared, all-important sagacity, acknowledged at last, considered in terms befitting our increasing aptitude. Pay tribute to the important events in our personal histories, the crucial details that shaped the course of our individual lives. If nothing else, it would make those annual birthday celebrations more worthwhile and substantial. Feasting to mark the fact we’re still here, alive and well, because we’ve got a job and our health, or a partner with whom we’ve bunned the oven, baking a bunch of miniature we’s, well, that’s great, if we’ve done something to embellish those reflexes, adding to the wonderful basics of life.
Feasting on account of us being here with little to show for it other than the predictable products of how-to-be-human-in-primal-terms, a manual that has barely been updated since the dawn of time, bar the loud social leaps we’ve taken, which are pretty much the same old story, only glossy and slick — a salesperson’s wet dream — that’s great too, if you’re a war victim recovering from trauma; if you’re so completely injured by life that you’re ready to settle for the simple things in life, looking to reclaim your health and mental stability — then yeah, I get it, the way to go about life is to stay firmly rooted to the ground, to the hardwired way of doing things. Your most important priority is reminding yourself how to stay alive, praising fortune — and perhaps an invisible, improbable God or gods and the dogmas from which He or She or They have sprung — praising the deities for every breath you take; praising fortune for every birthday reached and every hymn sung and the joy of having procreated and made copies of yourself, with whom your greatest reward is to kid around (nothing wrong with that); guide and educate (nothing wrong with that either, as long as you’re educating your kids, not indoctrinating them); most importantly, and here’s the clincher, you rub off on them, imprint yourself on them (little xerox copies full of yesterday’s flaws — and therein lies the problem, the atavism), celebrating birthdays, you do, mindlessly, automatically, teaching your offspring to do the same; cherish the simple things in life, you tell them, the pleasurable shallow things that are sophisticated and informed and different from the past’s limitations only in name and appearance, everything else finishing in distant second place — the wonderful things you could be celebrating and glorifying, all lost in a haze of carnivalized primalness.
It’s great if you’re an elderly person with your whole life behind you, enjoying a little sunshine on borrowed time, thankful for each and every moment afforded to you, every morsel of life thrown at you. You live for the simple things in life.
If you’re sick, suffering from a debilitating illness, or from the ravages of war and conflict, or strain and abuse of any kind, you live for the simple things in life. They define who you are, driving your every choice.
And kids. Happy to simply be here, alive, kicking, it’s great if you’re a kid who hasn’t grown up yet, given over to the whims of unchecked emotion, enjoying the pure bliss of the moment.
It’s great if you’re a yogi completely resigned from this world, forevermore consigned to the demands of an ethereal reality where the basic joys of life are the cornerstones of a meaningful existence, or so you say, gilded and glorified and cherished with every breath you take, every flutter of the eyelids on a level connected to the heat of the heart, to the primacy of cell structure.
It’s great if you’re a dog, thrilled with the treat you just received, with the simplicity of the arrangement.
Are we dogs?
Are we yogis?
How about spoiled brats? Are we kids, lost in the haze of simplicity, enthralled with the here and now, overwhelmed by the gifts, the showmanship, the cyclical praise and accolades, the mindless repetition of happy routines that feel oh so good?
Are we victims of abuse, grateful to be alive, tunnel-visioned and scarred and reduced to basic survival mechanisms, elementary joys?
Are we scared?
Are we traumatized?
Are we chained to a cliff, like Prometheus, destined to celebrate the growth of our liver daily, only to have it eaten out again, taking pleasure from the precious respites of the day, the periods that make us forget our pain and tragedy, our fragile existence? Our vulnerability to forces outside our control?
Perfectly good potential, all of it wasted on psyches resonating with the afternotes of bondage and slavery. We don’t resemble free men and women who were temporarily chained only to fight their way out of captivity. We were interned from the start, born in chains, thinking we were free. Pathetic in our appreciation of the consciousness we wield, displaying a lack of mettle, a lack of ownership of the wonder of intelligence and creativity and self-determination afforded to us over the millennia, we remain stuck on yesterday’s pleasures. So sad. Life is an extraordinary event, so much more than all the ‘simple’ things people love to celebrate. We are walking, breathing miracles of flesh and vision, breaching the horizons of time and space, yet we choose to glorify the basic things in life to a fault, acting like the trauma cases we are, career victims, pseudo-evolutionaries, one foot stuck in the past, expecting little more in terms of quality of life than our giddiness at having made it past another year.
Then you wonder why the despots rule supreme. Why wouldn’t they? They go for broke, pushing the envelope on all levels, rewriting the script while everyone swallows the myth of the simple things in life hook, line and sinker. Everyone is shellshocked, shaken, keeping his and her aspirations wholesome and basic, celebrating spring and summer, the end of the long night, the dawn of a new year. The lengthening of the day and the anniversary of one’s birth. The circadian events common to all life on Earth, aminoacidic in nature, elemental, we focus on them to a fault, foregoing the details that make us stand out. We are capable of extraordinary choices yet choose to tether our lives to the low and narrow, handing over the initiative to the few who are crazy enough to celebrate life beyond its banal ordinariness, many of whom have no time for the tethered among us, a low opinion (and can you blame them) of those who choose not to cross over from the simple side of the river.
Why would anyone with a mind for the way ahead give a damn about anyone who chooses the shackles of a constricted life over the big skies of an expanded one? When the splendor of today’s and tomorrow’s opportunities is foregone, tragedies are in the making. People pretend to be free and enlightened as their rituals and instincts wrap themselves ever tighter around their daily lives, around what could have grown into something vibrant, something more than the juice currently resting inside our mammalian cocoon . . .
If only we let go of our precious obsession with our primal joys and anxieties. If only we upgraded our drives, complemented the basic with something fresh, a range of behaviors and aspirations befitting the times, what a world this would be!
I turned thirty-five years old a few days ago and there was a huge celebration about my ‘special’ day. I would have loved it if it had come on the backdrop of a greater celebration of my life at large, something noteworthy I’d done, about which people would be genuinely thrilled. No such luck. The festivities were hollow, they erupted like a piece of fanfare in the middle of a cultural nowhere, therefore big deal. So what? Big crappy milestone among other crappy milestones among small and restrained landscapes among the armies of the living dead, the shellshocked present-absent people of today, by the grace of the stormy teacup, there to placate our greatest fear: that the life we lead is very, very ordinary, by our own choosing, no less. Trapped inside our cocoons, praising the walls that keep us captive, trying not to let the raw reality register, whitewashing it whenever it leaves a mark.
So we kick up a storm over our being here, big joyous fracas to cover up the shortfalls and lies — those shiny, decorative, oft-repeated lies that torment us when we stop rationalizing our way through the day.
Big fucking deals to plug in the holes in our souls and paint the inward-leaning walls festive and charming.
Just numbers, Victor. You hear me? Concepts. Excuses. Justifications. Figures and marches and circus acts, fanfare extraordinaire. It doesn’t mean anything. One day, it could be any day just like this one, we pass away, every one of us passes away and the show doesn’t mean shit. The only thing that matters is what we’ve done with our given time while things have been adding up. What we’ve done beyond the plain and ordinary.
Now that’s worth celebrating.
I’ve been thinking,