Quote of the day, by John B. Adams:
He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers.
I’m not a happy person and most of the time feel no need to navel gaze about my warm and glowing serenity quotient, but must say my attitude comes up short in terms of attitudinal expectations this time of year.
The happy-go-lucky are out en masse. Even the bus driver gave me a toothy smile tonight, steady eye contact and holiday greetings, so yes, he was in a good mood, but I ride that bus all the time and he’s never acknowledged me before Christmas Eve. Maybe some people save it all up.
Some may see poignancy in what this season permits, but as a crank I take it as more demand than permission, a claim on my demeanor for a permanent smile, indiscriminate glad-handing in pious good vibes and neighborly bigheartedness. I could see it as genuine and spontaneous outpouring of good will but for the fact that everyone does the same thing, in tandem, at the same intensity, one week per year, just as we’ve been socialized to perform. It’s a bore, talking about it is boring, thin gruel indeed, but an enduring pet peeve.
I’ll likely join the hypocrite parade myself and go out tomorrow just to mix with the benevolence I now deride, it’s nice to have empty pleasant interactions no matter how scripted, and there are worse ways to close out the year than joining in contrived bonhomie. This is how we act in the time in which I live, and I want to partake on my own joyless terms, like all of Santa’s little misfit toys.
Beneath it is the invisibility, which is always afoot, though the denial of social reality that takes hold during Christmas is especially galling, this is the season of fortunates and they don’t want to hear it; the nation’s ills can wait one day, we should be joyous for the kiddies, and Christmas day is all about the children.
(Sputter, blank stare, umbrage.)
As if invoking the underprivileged guilt-trip is so unfair, since all we Americans ever think about are the less fortunate among us, 364 days of the year, though the evidence of this remains scant.
The totalizing mindset is off. Nothing is ever all one thing, but in my country, it’s all black or white, and right now the white is pristine, banal, infinite and inescapable. It’s all good, means nothing is good, and destroys any potential benefit that could be excavated from the horrible. Which does not exist, because it’s all good.
This resentment goes back many years, my traditional piss on candyland. I don’t want what others have, I want to shake up some worlds for the sake of inclusion. They are in my world, nonstop. Equal time, for just one minute.
There’s no need to self-flagellate, but people can stretch, expand, integrate, all of it, the whole picture, beauty and horror and the horrible beauty, let a shadow cross the complacent brow for those we all know are weak and suffering, no one wants to steal your stuff, but just see you less anxious and demanding around people who are haunted by the things you celebrate. Grandmother’s house, what ever possibly could go wrong there?
I don’t know about family time but I know who my friends are and this is not a chirrupy week for any one of us. When I think about my friends, virtual and in real life, their personalities, what they have in common, what I remember most, and where my honor starts, that quote up there comes to mind, about people who will stand amidst the ruins and cheer, maybe that’s what it takes to show up and stick.
Praise to all who dare to show up. And I’ll think to myself what a wonderful world, thanks to sentimental roughnecks who put a measure of pain into it: