Wednesday, June 26, 2019

June 26: Shades of the Color Blue, Coating of Silly, Okay

Arthur pages through The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . . .

Ford had thoughtfully left him his copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to while away the time with.  He pushed a few buttons at random.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a very unevenly edited book and contains many passages that simply seemed to its editors like a good idea at the time.

One of these (the one Arthur now came across) supposedly relates the experiences of one Veet Voojagig, a quiet young student at the University of Maximegalon, who pursued a brilliant academic career studying ancient philology, transformational ethics and the wave harmonic theory of historical perception, and then, after a night of drinking Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Zaphod Beeblebrox, became increasingly obsessed with the problem of what had happened to all the ballpoints he'd bought over the past few years.

There followed a long period of painstaking research during which he visited all the major centers of ballpoint loss throughout the Galaxy and eventually came up with a quaint theory that quite caught the public imagination at the time.  Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the color blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms.  And it was to this planet that unattended ballpoints would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely ballpointed lifestyle, responding to highly ballpoint-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the ballpoint equivalent of the good life.

And as theories go this was all very fine and pleasant until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet, and to have worked there for a while driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables, whereupon he was was taken away, locked up, wrote a book and was finally sent into tax exile which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make fools of themselves in public.

When one day an expedition was sent to the spatial coordinates that Voojagig had claimed for this planet they discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying.

There did, however, remain the question of both the mysterious sixty thousand Altairian dollars paid yearly into his Brantisvogan bank account, and of course Zaphod Beeblebrox's highly profitable secondhand ballpoint business.

Pure silliness of course.  I love the idea, however, of a planet of lost ballpoint pens.  Sort of like a planet of lost socks.  This passage just makes me smile for its sheer absurdity.  Sometimes, life needs to be dipped in a coating of silly and sprinkled with absurdity.  Today is one of those days for me.

This post will be one of those elliptical ones that I write sometimes where I am hovering above a subject that is possessing me but that I just can't write about.  Think of it as a missing ballpoint pen that is wandering around in the ballpoint planet of my head.

It will come as no surprise to the faithful disciples of this blog when I say that addicts and addictions have been a part of my life for a very long time.  Friends.  Family members.  Acquaintances.  People I love.  But that is not the subject of this post.

It will also not come as a surprise to the faithful disciples of this blog when I say that mental illness has been a part of my life for a very long time, as well.  Friends.  Family members,  Acquaintances.  People I love.  But that is not the subject of this post, either.

Ditto for poetry and Donald Trump and my daughter's high school graduation and my son's ADHD and the bills that are piled on my kitchen table.  None of these things are the subject of this post.  All of these things are stumbling around on their own mythical planets right now, and I will not pay attention to them this evening.

As I sit here, eating a chicken pot pie, I am thinking about resiliency and the ability to exist in difficult situations and remain positive and happy.  You may recall that I am working my way through a book about joy written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.  I am always struck by the passages in which these two figures talk about living through apartheid and exile, the darkest times of their lives, enduring difficulties that I can't even imagine.  Yet, every picture in the book shows these two men smiling, grinning, laughing, dancing.

As I look at those pictures, I think to myself, "I want me some of that."

How do they do it?  How do they remain so joyful?  Here is the answer that I've been hearing, over and over:  powerlessness.  Accepting that state.  Fear and anger and doubt and sadness--all of these emotions are products of trying to control situations that are simply out of your control.  The quicker you recognize your powerlessness, the quicker you will be on the road to happiness and joy.

This evening, when I got home, I was on the brink of something.  It wasn't joy.  Basically, I changed out of my work clothes, crawled into bed, and pulled the covers over my head.  It was a moment of feeling completely alone with some very dark thoughts.  It was a hole I dug for myself all day long, and I was at the bottom of it.  It was pretty deep.

After a couple hours, I got a text message from a really good friend who knows a few things about joy.  I responded to the text, telling my friend of my current state of mind.  My friend's words were pretty simple:  " . . . you're doing it, climbing out of the hole.  That's big, all you can ask of yourself, to reach for a better-feeling thought.  And know you are loved and have Big Love for yourself."  After a few more texts with my friend, I felt better.  Then I got an IM from another good friend, and we exchanged messages about poetry and happiness, mixed with some jokes.  And I felt better.

I am not completely out of the hole yet, but I can now see light.  I know that, in the situation causing me so much struggle, I am completely, totally, utterly powerless.  I understand why people turn to alcohol or drugs or cutting or suicide.  It's all about escape.  Lessening the pain.  A seeming way of taking control of the uncontrollable.  (The key word in that last sentence is "seeming.")

Tonight, God texted me and IMed me as I was spiraling.  He reminded me that I am loved.  That I am important.  That I make a difference, however tiny, in the world.

Saint Marty is okay, and okay is best he can do at the moment.

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