Feb200803

The holidays are an important time as they allow us to take a breather from the daily grind (not the aromatic kind) and they also mark a period of celebration, a ritualizing of routine in paying respects to our gods and idols.

Thanksgiving is an observance of providence, abundance, and an acknowledgment of gratitude for a good harvest, it is giving thanks for the things we have and perhaps take for granted; things we possess that others may lack, bare necessities that we could not otherwise live without. How should we go about celebrating such a wonderful gift? If we consult with the logic of gluttony, when there’s abundance, we’ll consume to our heart’s content or until there is no more and deplete abundance back to scarcity so we can work again to replete our stores. The holiday season is a time when, in general agreement, our waistlines are subject to expansion and we readily engage ourselves in fanciful dinners and plentiful portions in a festive manner that departs from what truly these times call for: gratitude and conservation. Animals in the wild instinctively gather and store in anticipation of shortage and even if their harvest lends excess they do not hastily deplete their surplus, instead they ration and conserve. Of course, it would stand to reason that not all animals behave in this efficient manner and there still stands to be variation even in the animal kingdom. Still, the point remains resilient, why do we celebrate abundance by cannibalizing what which we have? Why do we splurge when we come into excess which we know inevitably will return us to the status quo, or worse, depravity. This mode of consumption, is the root antagonist behind why the general populace remains in stasis. This compulsion, this burst of intake, ingests opportunities for growth and progress. Imagine constructing a house out of ginger-bread and at various times, fits of hunger would compel one to devour a good chunk of it, thus impeding one’s progress. Why would anyone build a house out of ginger-bread in the first place you ask? Well it comes as a surprise that in our scrumptious culture the house would not be framed from the bones turkey legs, the wallpaper from its skin, the halls decorated with cakes and pies, the floors tiled with cold cuts and caulked with mash potatoes, and furnished with coffee tables complete with pitchers of fresh brewed coffee in every room just in case the caffeine-deprivation becomes so crippling that it renders one’s legs as turkey stuffing and the best one could do is crawl to the nearest coffee station for a refill. We call this holiday “Thanksgiving”, but to our deliciously glazed friends, it’s the “turkey holocaust”, it’s “turkecide”. Millions of feathery bipeds are slaughtered, flanked, and certainly they did not accept the suicidal invitation to this dinner whereby they make an appearance at our doorsteps and in a tone set to “surprise” yell out “I’m here to be your dinner! Please pluck me naked, sever my limbs, decapitate my head, stuff my ass with bread crumbs, cook me tender, slice and dice me silly, and pass around pieces of my flesh to all of your family members, and by the way…Happy Thanksgiving!”

What is Thanksgiving you ask? It is the perversion of a gracious act of gratitude for providence into the annual shopping hysteria of Black Fridays, the voluntary indignity of losing ourselves to gluttony, and the unconscionable massacre of countless animals in order to litter our dinner tables all in an act of exemplification of abundance.

The holidays, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year…” and the only time of the year that we’ve appointed ourselves to be happy, joyous, loving, and charitable. If anyone ventured door-to-door caroling on a mid-summer afternoon we’d be quick to label them as “unstable”, “fringing”, “brinking”, or the vernacular would be “crazy.” Christmas appears to the only time in the year that we willingly dedicate ourselves to the art of happiness in however many ways this is expressed…the holiday soundtrack begins to play in our heads and, for most, it elevates us to a state of joy unparalleled to any other time of the year. For Christians, there is definitely something to celebrate: the birth of a savior, the one to save all humanity of the fiery clutches of sin-dom, the teacher that promises to guide us to the promised land if we follow his simple teachings: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” If we’re anything like our original descendants, then we’re bound to the same rebellious human nature and thus we’d stray even from the simplest of instructions that would guarantee us a place in the land of eternal happiness. So where does Santa Claus come into the picture? Here’s how it works: while we remain on earth, on the land of the living flesh, if we align our constraints against that of the teachings, that is, if we’re “good” then our names would appear on a list of “good students” deserving of presents stuffed in a sock to be hung atop a fireplace in defiance of the fire-gods, mocking the enraged countenance of the flames and the agony of the burning wood, and provoking it from a distance behind a barrier of space that assumingly will deter the angered gods. This happens annually. Once a year, every year. If you’re on the “naughty list”, then obviously you’ve coveted something, and even though your angel wings appear transparent to the world, your heart cannot be deceived as it is the judge of your conscience and it is incorruptible. You know who you are and what you’ve done; your name doesn’t need to appear on any special list in order for you to know. What happens when your Timex has worn down its battery and stops at the 12th hour? Well, this is called “the final judgment.” The ultimate bad and good list, the sum of all sins, the consummation of all deeds, the reconstitution of our fragmented reel of life, all equating to our true worthiness as we are weighed at the golden gates on the golden scales. There aren’t any superficial presents here, just eternal peace. And if you find yourself turning the other direction, there won’t be socks filled with coal waiting for you (maybe if these were used to beat you eternally silly, then maybe, just maybe), just eternal damnation (which is all the bad things imaginable collected and assembled into a heat-proof flail that’s used to thrash your ethereal body to a bloody pulp by the person that you care for most). In all seriousness, where did Santa’s sleigh take the wrong turn leading us to a state of gift deprivation come the end of each year and how did this gift fixation become so inarguably prevalent, cross-culturally as well as being religiously transparent, that it overshadows the “true spirit” of the holidays. Never mind the fact that we only reserve a short period, days even, to love and be loved, to care and to be cared for, but even in this limited time span we can’t even focus on the things that matter, we can’t love for all that love calls for and the only thing we care about is the mystery of what’s inside those rectangular mysteries under the Christmas tree. Our charity is limited by our own greed, our wants and needs, and want more of this and need more of that…the road of consumerism is a slippery slope and once you embark on the sleigh, there’s no telling how far one will go to actualize these desires and to what depth of indignity one is willing travel in order to temporarily suspend this insatiable lust.

The Christmas mantra starts as “What can I give…” but is translated as “what would I receive in return…” and “what will so and so give me for this year…”; and to no surprise, early indoctrination helps to secure this vicious psychological cycle. Beyond the anticipation of presents, we have OCD, that is, obsessive competitive disorder, it is synonymous with obsessive compulsive disorder in that it shares a marked psychologically corrupt sense of self. In celebration of the self and all of its grandeur, we project our image onto the world with all of the devices of our possessive materialism. A new house, a polished car, extravagant attire and all the accessories one can possibly hang, stick, wrap, and dangle on and from the flesh causing it to sparkle and glitter with an aura of wealth and prestige; behind the smoke and mirrors, however, is a frail and decaying body begging for release, desperately rebelling for freedom from all the ties that bind it and the social construct is a loose prison where it is enslaved by objects and objectives, all of which force it to be something else other than its true form. Giving now has a precursor of receiving and the gesture itself having a prerequisite of justification and triggered only by the onset of a “special” occasion. Is not being alive an occasion unsurpassed by any other? And should it not be cherished and celebrated while we are among the living? The antithetical would be quick to proclaim that perhaps it may not settle well with those among the non-living, who have no voice of their own in the physical world, and for us to celebrate something which they lack, that is, life, due to the potentiality of offensiveness, could equate to disrespect for the dead. But if it is written in the unstated tenets of social concordance that the dead be honored for they would have to brave the path to the great unknown, then by virtue of equality should not life be treated with the same reverence as our origin is just as enigmatic as our caesura?

Thus, to partition designated periods of time to the splendor of life and to reserve love, peace, joyfulness, and charity in a conservative manner for a “special” occasion in essence detracts from the spirit of life and humanity. Our supply of love is not limited to containers and should not be stored for safe-keeping or for a rainy day…love is limitless and the misconstruction that the world is in short supply derives from the barriers that we’ve erected and these “flood gates” constrains this naturally flowing force and mutes the possibilities of it flourishing.

Life when viewed through the lens of an individual, sometimes, to the individual, is not worth living, and many turn to a faith in order to acquire the strength to live on. Life sometimes is a tragedy. Yet, if we can stand at repose and look at the macrocosm of life through the mind’s eye, we may see that every life is of value and everything that we do contributes to the continuum of the collective experience. In order for the collective to experience life, we must experience life.

I don’t think the teacher had in mind for us to love each other only one day or even one week out of the year and through the processes of life we are deceived into thinking that this is in fact the way it should be or just the way that it is. I’m sure that while carrying the cross on the road to martyrdom he was not thinking about exchanging his life so that we can exchange gifts in honor of his day of birth and surely if he has in him even just a drop of selfishness that’s contrived in by heart of man then he would have said, “Screw you guys, I’m not dying for you selfish bastards, and especially if you’re not going to learn from the error of your ways and continue down the path to self-destruction.” To the contrary, I believe that we should immerse ourselves in altruism whenever the opportunity presents itself and even if it does not then we should make our best effort to pursue it with the same tireless vigor and relentlessness that we direct to the pursuit of materialism, wealth, fame, status, and everything else that is only self-substantial. Simple acts that can be appreciated and can truly help to ease a burden off another being, no matter how light or heavy, is enough to account as a life brimming with meaning and driven by purpose. Are we living our lives in a manner that honors the sacrifice of the one man who vowed to save us by offering his own life? Or in his death, as his maimed heart is dripping with blood of the innocence, will he regret his decision?

Live everyday wholly for every moment is an occasion not to be missed.

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