Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29: Concentrate on the Good Ones, Book Club, Praise Be

"So--" said Billy gropingly, "I suppose that the idea of preventing war on Earth is stupid, too."

"Of course."

"But you do have a peaceful planet here."

"Today we do.  On other days we have wars as horrible as any you've ever seen or read about.  There isn't anything we can do about them, so we simply don't look at them.  We ignore them.  We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments--like today at the zoo.  Isn't this a nice moment?"


"That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough.  Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones."

"Um," said Billy Pilgrim.

Shorty after he went to sleep that night, Billy traveled in time to another moment which was quite nice, his wedding night with the former Valencia Merble.  He had been out of the veterans' hospital for six months.  He was all well.  He had graduated from the Ilium School of Optometry--third in his class of forty-seven.

Now he was in bed with Valencia in a delightful studio apartment which was built on the end of a wharf on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  Across the water were the lights of Gloucester.  Billy was on top of Valencia, making love to her.  One result of this act would be the birth of Robert Pilgrim, who would become a problem in high school, but who would then straighten out as a member of the famous Green Berets.

Valencia wasn't a time-traveler, but she did have a lively imagination.  While Billy was making love to her, she imagined that she was a famous woman in history.  She was being Queen Elizabeth the First of England, and Billy was supposedly Christopher Columbus.

Did Columbus and Queen Elizabeth the First ever meet?  I'm not sure, but that's beside the point.  The Tralfamadorian solution to things like war and genocide is simply not to focus on them.  Instead, they focus on good things, like days at the zoo or, in Billy's case, the conception of his first child with his new bride, Valencia.  Good moments, that will make everything alright.

I'm not sure I agree with this advice.  However, I do believe that dwelling on some past tragedy is not very healthy.  I have a had a lot of bad things happen in my life, as has everybody reading this post, I'm sure.  If I went around all day thinking about the death of my sister or my wife's mental illness or the election of Donald Trump, I wouldn't be able to function.  I would curl up on my bed, under the covers, in a fetal position, and just not live. 

Ignoring traumas from the past isn't a good practice, either.  That creates issues like depression, PTSD, and other forms of mental illness.  No, bad things must be dealt with, through talk therapy and group therapy and medical therapy and chocolate.  That's the only way to overcome bad shit.  I'm speaking from experience.

Tonight, however, I am going to have a good moment, one that Tralfamadorians would probably return to in times of war.  My book club is meeting tonight at my house.  This month's book is Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.  When I'm done typing my posts, I'm going to cut up some cheese for a little tray.  Then, I'll set the tables with dishes and cups, because Book Club is really just an excuse to eat.

It will be a lovely moment with lovely people whom I love.  Is there enough love in that sentence?  It will be a good night, filled with laughter and conversation. No war.  No end of the universe.  Just cheese and crackers and brownie trifle.  As the characters in The Handmaid's Tale say, "Praise be."

Saint Marty is thankful tonight for good friends.

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