Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Karma Chameleon

Yesterday, I was confronted with a malicious post on a forum for Down Syndrome parents, designed to attack one of our deepest fears – that of the sexual abuse of our children. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. Network TV even does it from time to time, exploiting the idea for the sake of drama, to sell Cialis and Crest. It’s almost a familiar emotional road to travel these days, from anger to wanting revenge to wanting mere justice to feeling mere pity and disgust for the adolescent punk, who, if there is any justice in this life, will probably sustain a C4 spinal injury when his ATV rolls over on him, leaving him with his thoughts of how cruel God was to him. Maybe I’m not quite through the "revenge" part, just yet.
It’s days like that one that just make playing with Emma before dinner, or holding her sleeping pj’d form in my arms for just a few extra minutes so much sweeter. I’m pretty sure that Nimrod hasn’t had a hug in a long time, and that is truly a crime – his parents (if he has any) have damaged him perhaps beyond relational repair. Whatever forces may someday drive my adult children to seek therapy, lack of love from their parents will not be one of them. I just hope Nimmy has his accident before he fathers any more of his kind. Crap, there I go again. Sorry.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Million Mourner March

I’ve been pondering what a million people in line looks like. The Vatican had to close the line to view Pope John Paul II’s remains Thursday, as the wait was already 12 hours, and preparations would need to be made for the funeral.
I’ve also been wondering why we, as a species, are compelled to “see it for ourselves.” For reasons unknown to me, I have never been fond of pressing groups of people or large gatherings, aside from church potlucks at the park in the summertime. This, of course, has more to do with the food than the fellowship.
However, I will subject myself to such torture, nearly always for the purposes of amusement, enduring the proximity for pleasuring the senses with music and rides on hydraulic monstrosities. Just as military service is pressed upon the young primarily because we older folk would simply desert, my willingness to wait for anything is diminishing as my age increases. I consider it one of the more normal aspects of my being.
Why is it that we are lured to the sights and sounds of rotating lights and sirens, when we should avoid them? Why am I compelled to identify the residue of forest creatures left on the expressway? Why do I want to see a band play, when I’ve already heard their music, can see video of their performances that allow me to see the pores on their foreheads, and eat bon-bons in my underwear while doing so?
Because it’s not the same, that’s why. There is the component of “I was there.” It goes beyond bragging rights, although that can be part of it. There is no substitute, yet, for being physically present when a unique event occurs.
I am a fan of Samuel Clemens, for reasons that, in my wildest dreams, would only flatter me. I have had occasion to visit his home in Hartford, CT. Oh, to be so wealthy to be able to express oneself in architecture and furnishings! There is even a handwritten note from him, addressed to burglars, in the basement. The value of this one-of-a-kind place is that it illustrates and gives presence to what is already a faded personality of great influence on the early 20th century.
I have stood at the base of Michaelangelo’s “David”. I have also stood at the base of a full-sized copy of “David” in a cemetery here in Southern California. To say that they are similar is correct. They are not the same. To tell you how they are different would be quite difficult. I’m sure that context has a lot to do with it, but it is much more than that. One is cast, the other creation.
I know that millions want to express their appreciation and gratitude for a life lived well, whose impact has truly been divine. It is also part of the culture of Catholicism. I, however, cannot easily fathom this depth of humanity. It is truly a wonder.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ennui and Me

Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom.
This word shares the same heritage with annoy, and that’s the way I like it. Annoyed boredom.
That’s me, today.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing one of the world’s greatest rock bands, twice in one week, last week. I live in a home that’s worth nearly a half a million dollars (insanely overvalued, to be sure), I have a wonderful family, food to eat, TV with 75 channels (2 or 3 with actual programming worth watching, and that includes John Wayne movies), and a persistent connection to the Internet. I have transportation, credit, and friends. Yet, still, I languish in a pit, dug with my own hands, swimming in self-pity; seemingly unable to even rent a ladder. I can’t seem to find my bootstraps. I fear they’ve rotted away.
I heard the greatest essay on PBS radio yesterday. The author read, "You are what you give." It was the basis of her belief system, annealed by caring for and watching her daughter die from a progressing disease. She talked not only of giving with no strings, but of giving with no thought whatsoever of the recipients’ attitude, gratitude, or lack thereof. She does it because it suits her. She is right. It is the Biblical Imperative, stripped of all of its trappings and baggage.
God, prompt me to give, to love, to at least hold my tongue, sometimes. To move beyond my circumstances, however comfortable they may be. To move beyond random acts of kindness, to random acts of love.
To do something.
"To love is to heal, to hurt is to steal . . ."
"She Moves In Mysterious Ways", U2