A Small Medium @ Large
Dear Medium, Mr. Medium, I have a complaint. My husband says reading your column’s like milking a resentful cow with cold hands. So I cut them out before he gets home and starts emoting over your latest attempt at snit-du-jour-nalism.
I hide them in the laundry room because he’s never been there. It’s taking up a lot of space next to the litter box, OK? And I’m waiting for you to write about Blake Shelton and Luke Ryan. Not so much Brad Paisley anymore. I have no idea why. But unlike Cosmo or Country Woman, your stuff takes maybe three reads before warm and fuzzy comprehension sets in. Didn’t Albert Einstein say, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself?” What gives?
Dear Goosebumps, Ms. Goosebumps, you have no complaint. Your husband will warm to brighter shades of gray the minute he stops forcing everything into the simplistic black and whites of reason. Put new frames on those tired old glasses! Revive his interest by adding physics to your list of home life satisfactions!
Einstein proved that the world’s like a million piece puzzle that your kid just dumped all over the house. His one and only job is to pick things up. But then your husband barges in at the speed of light, see, to mansplain the situation. Alpha displays are a given, of course, but we keep squaring ourselves to the rules since all kinds of recreational shopping can come into play.
Every four years, it’s Game Day, when your Blue friends squat on the couch, hogging the remote and demand that “fairness” orchestrate the TV. They call for an “open doors” policy in your house while hammering together various puzzle pieces into a rainbow shaped dream catcher, kinda.
Meanwhile, under a tent built over the kitchen table, your Red friends are shouting “We Can’t Pay for that!” They huddle around their own dream catcher, fire their Bug-A-Salts in the air, and shout “read the transcript” to no one in particular.
The uproar is what you’d expect from sugar-revved children at a balloon party. Whistles blow non-stop, each side cries and grabs their opponents’ toys whenever possible. The puzzle now sticks to fingers, the walls and your hair is inexplicably sticky, too. You wouldn’t trust anybody in your life with more than a fat crayon.
It gets worse. Uninvited clumps of karmically determined people wander in your yard clutching their own pieces. Types like the Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Greens, and watershed Bioregionalists shout loudly for someone to hand out more clues. But no one ever does.
So Game Day continues, the universe expands, autotropes begin to drool, and the uproar continues over who gets to define what America is, claim its needs, and how to use other people’s money to get it.
Then, illumination! Suddenly your six year old wanders into the room clutching the puzzle’s box top. He’s wearing Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Friends Holiday PJ Pals for boys and couldn’t color within the lines if his life depended on it. He doesn’t need to. There’s the completed picture at a single glance.
Where’s the Whiz Kids now? Who needs politics when even the family goldfish gets it? Same way, if you know what happiness looks like when you start the puzzle, the odds of finding it are vastly improved. Einstein clarity, girlfriend, is the difference between playing with missing pieces versus those who recognize a mess when they see it. The day your husband learns how to pick up after himself, he’ll find more clues next to the litter box.
* * * * *
Recent studies in psychology show that a one-sided quest for happiness can result in just the opposite effect taking place. This is the predicament of America’s youth, for sure. Our binary culture produces meaning from the assumption that identity presupposes meaning itself. It’s why all attention is aimed at ‘”What little piece do you want when you grow up?” but not so much the Big Picture. That is “One Great Light shines within us all.”
The true nobility of teaching is being destroyed by incentivizing certain words, and depreciating others, lest anybody’s speech exert power over other people’s lives. And the result? Our youngsters are becoming literalist Flatlanders that cannot grasp nuance or humor, and who live in a fog of emotional reaction and self-censoring insecurity like their parents. If the tanking of our representative form of government has a predictable cause, this one is a biggie.
It was once assumed that necessary and proper limits be set on the budding identity. Many have a problem with who has decided “necessary and proper?” Great minds from Augustine to Madison to Einstein have commented on how life can. That’s how life can then flourish at larger community and national levels.
But the crumbling of our cultural conformity, which has its own problems to be sure, doesn’t come with obvious solutions. Decline comes out of nowhere, forms like frost from cold air, and few see it happening in real time. The limits of growth, like too much screen time changing young brains, “is not our problem.”
Few see the utility of mass confusion, perhaps, except types like the Dulles brothers (international Banksters who controlled the State Department and created the modern CIA in 1954), and Albert Camus, a celebrated French philosopher of the ‘50’s who centered on the endless quest for meaning. “An intelligence service is the ideal vehicle for a conspiracy” said Allen. “It never stops” said Albert.
Camus claimed to be a pragmatist. He neither idealized life nor sidetracked it through theoretical distractions. He demanded that we witness life as an experience, no matter how painful or beautiful it appears.
“. . . Camus was a moralist who said that while the whole world is absurd and allows for no hope, we are not condemned to despair. But he was not a moralizer, meaning he did not judge from a higher or more lucrative position, but tried to create meaning where none was given.” (From Finn Janning’s review of A Life Worth Living, authored by Robert Zaretsky in Metapsychology 2014, Vol.18.)
Mr. Janning writes “He believed that faithfulness was not a virtue in itself. Instead, one only ought to be faithful towards a life served in happiness.”
But, he says, happiness seemed to be a difficult task for Camus, for whom the meaning was absurd. If life is without meaning then one must invent it, just as one must ‘create happiness’ in order to protect against the universe of unhappiness.
Western psychology, like the mostly forgotten Camus, talks only about the mind. “Unless you understand the mind” they say “you can’t know something.” At the same time, they say “but you can’t know everything by the mind.” That’s it; everything stops with this declaration of finality. But faith teaches that there is knowledge beyond the mind. It eaches that happiness is our true nature.
But seeking for happiness outside of us is problematic. As the Mandukya Upanishad says, “Not inside knowledge, not outside knowledge, not knowledge itself, not ignorance.” It’s all expressed in the negative because you can’t grasp it, you can’t think of it, you can’t mark it with a symbol. And because higher truth has no name and form, you can’t explain it.
Hundreds of people might sit in front of somebody who talks for hours on end about God. But he’s said nothing about God and they’ve heard nothing about God. He has only said something about God that he could fit into his own mind, and they’ve only understood what they could grasp in theirs. Nobody has said anything about the real God and nobody has understood anything about the real God. It’s unexplainable. All kinds of good things may be satisfied by this, but we’ll lose our younger generations unless we can bring forth a higher love.
It has long been acknowledged that some important and illuminating writings were eliminated from the New Testament canon. There is a similar saying (to the Upanishads) concerning absolute transcendence in the Gospel of Thomas: “Jesus said: I shall give you what no eye has seen nor ear heard nor hand touched, what has not entered the human heart.”
“Be still and know” says all the scriptures. Far beyond the soul searching of our political and religious passions, it takes total mental silence for that transcendent wisdom to dawn.