Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Standing Up For Living
[for Marian and Etta who loved life and living]
The King is already here.
Sorry, Reverend, but you don't have to wait for the new and improved date of October whatever. As sure as the swallows return to Capistrano and lemmings return to the sea, he has returned and I have seen him. Okay, before you start thinking deluded religious freak, let me add that I am neither religious nor alone. Thousands of the faithful, fans one and all, have seen him at the exact same time, in the exact same place that I did. The King returned, as advertised, and walked the streets of Lake George, New York. Elvis Presley returned for Elvis Fest.
I am mocking and I apologize. Sort of. The fervor with which some people embrace the end of the world befuddles and bothers (and, yes, sometimes amuses) me on any number of levels.
Prior to the reported end of the world, the news highlighted what happens when you publish the exact date and time the ferry crosses the River Styx for the Promised Land. (A couple of mixed metaphors but who cares.) One woman slit the throats of her children to save them from the trauma of Armageddon. (They all survived, but the idea that someone, anyone, would be willing to slaughter their own children falls into the befuddled category.) Another woman gave her entire meager fortune to the Church that predicted the end was nigh. Her fortune was meager if you don't need three hundred thousand. Since her family did, I doubt they saw it (or rather see it) as an insignificant occurrence. Even worse, the woman died before the "rapture"; she wasn't aware that the ferryman was at Dunkin Donuts ordering a latte at the preordained time. Her family got (or rather gets) nothing…practically and spiritually…while the pastor who got it wrong profited. Hell, he pocketed the whole enchilada. I recorded this one in the amused column.
With regards the whole let's give away all our stuff stuff I would like to ask a very simple question: Why? If the world really does end and if the end can be predicted right down to a last appointed second, what purpose does giving stuff away serve? Who is going to benefit or, better yet, who is going to be left to enjoy it? That said, let me add that I will accept anything you want to send. All sales are final.
I find it obnoxious that a few seriously devout individuals revel not only in the end of the world but also in the inevitable extinction of billions of people. It is incomprehensible to me. Some of us heathens don't want to go. Really. We like it here. To put things in perspective, consider this real Armageddon scenario. When I was a boy (in the 60's) the world found itself on the brink of nuclear war (a.k.a. the Cuban Missile Crisis). I was a third grade Catholic School student while my brother was a kindergartener at a different school. My mother, who, like everyone else, followed the news and was terrified by what she heard, knew that missiles could reach us in 45 minutes and wondered, fretted and struggled with an insane decision. Which son would she be with at the end? I was four blocks to the north. My brother was four blocks in the opposite direction. She didn't drive and she knew she couldn't - wouldn't - be able to reach both of us. She desperately wanted to envelope us in her arms and somehow protect us; she didn't put much stock in "duck and cover" but maybe a mother's aura would turn the trick. That panic is the real face of annihilation. It isn't we're going home halleluiah halleluiah. It is who will I be able to save, who will I be able to protect, who will I be able to kiss before I die.
In my little corner of the world, everyday brings some insignificant reason to live and live happily. I find joy in the giggle of a four year old (when the dog licks her face) or in the glee of a ten year old the first time his big-league swing sends a ball to the outfield (he just stood there in awe while we screamed RUN!) or in the immeasurable pride they all feel when the training wheels come off and they wobble down the block on their brand new big kid bikes for the first time. This is my second bite at the apple. I have grandkids but I remember every concert, every trip to the museum, every dive off the dock and every first step that made my children the people they are today. On balance, maybe those memories aren't so insignificant after all. If the rapture is scheduled again, I hope they don't wake me. There is a lot more accomplishment to be had.
The dictionary defines "rapture" as follows:
1) overwhelming happiness: a euphoric transcendent state in which somebody is overwhelmed by happiness or delight and unaware of anything else.
2) Christianity mystical transportation: a mystical experience in which somebody believes he or she is transported into the spiritual realm, sometimes applied to the second coming of Jesus Christ, when true believers are expected to rise up to join him in heaven.
If you have to choose, choose carefully. One is more expensive than the other.
Posted by Vince Palazzo at 7:33 AM