Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Priority Mail Stickers

The post office is up to no good. I bet you didn't know that. You thought it was just about strong legs and polyester uniforms. Maybe you pictured postal carriers striding through the neighborhood, stuffing wedding invitations into mail boxes, petting dogs, waving at old ladies. You may have thought they were harmless, like the Girl Scouts.
First of all, the Girl Scouts aren't as benign as you think. You think you want those cookies? No, it's fear that makes you buy those cookies.
The Post Office is even more insidious.
Take a look around. No, really look at your local light poles, electrical transformers and the backs of No Parking signs. Have you noticed all of those stickers? They usually have graffiti scrawled on them: illegible words or primitive drawings. You might see them and chuckle, kids and their stickers, but you don't think about it again, and besides you can't read that funny writing anyway.
Look higher. Look at the tops of the stickers. Almost always, they say: USPS Priority Mail.
Why Priority Mail stickers verses, for example, Easter Seals return address labels or "Hello, My Name Is..." badges?
I'll tell you why: It's because the Postal Service is a gang.
Think Hell's Angels, but with more power, more prestige and more members. They deliver your Cialis, your porn, your potato canons. All of the illicit stuff people order online.
But UPS and Fedex are cutting into their business so the Postal Service needs to mark its territory, scare away the competition.
You ever wonder why postal trucks have the steering wheel on the wrong side? It's so the driver's gun hand is free for shooting out the window. Deadly in a drive-by.
Just saying.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Marching Band Tragedy

There is a trumpet under the rock. A crumpled, sad, very dirty trumpet. Or maybe a bugle. And the rock is really more of a boulder. But the important thing is that it is under the boulder. Mostly under the boulder, anyway, as though it has tried to dig itself out.
I imagine a horrible accident: trumpet lying on the grass. Boy in military-esque marching costume earnestly chatting up the girl with the French horn... The landscaper's Bobcat trundling up the sidewalk with the boulder in the bucket. The horn lies helpless, crying silently for its owner: "Turn around! Save me!" But it needs lips and lungs to come alive, and so, ironically, cannot make a sound.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to be a Hero, Continued

Let's say you've reached the pinnacle of enlightenment. You're a Capital-H Hero and you've suffered and learned and risen above it all. Now you have to figure out how to put your impressive credentials to work.
You might think you would belong in the White House or the Vatican or at least Harvard Business School, but you'd be wrong, because you would start thinking of yourself as a Leader and you would develop a plan  to whip the world into shape.
It seems like a good idea at first, but here's so much to fix! People can't do anything right, so you introduce helpful rules for their own good: Eggs must be cooked hard. Scented laundry detergent is outlawed. Never use the word "moist". It is offensive. Why would any right-thinking person disagree?  Then things start to get out of hand.
Half the world wants to put you in jail. The other half wants to shoot you. If they do, then all that hard work and suffering and wisdom will have been for nothing.
The best way to remain uncorrupted and avoid assassination is to hide in a trailer in the desert or become a homeless person. At the very least, you need to refrain from pointing out everybody else's flaws. You should not do lecture tours or build a mega-church.
So, what's the point, you ask? Why would I want to undergo all this suffering just so that I can become homeless? No thanks.
Fair enough. I see your point. But I have found the Loopholes.
Loopholes, halleluiah! you say.  Life was looking really grim there for a minute.
Yes, sorry about that. I got carried away with the mythic stuff. Let's talk about your hero's journey now, in real life. The one that you've already started without realizing.
Your hero's journey is about turning pain into treasure. Everyone has pain of some kind. You can let it be meaningless suffering or you can turn it into a journey of the soul. A journey from which you return with something wonderful.
Your hero's journey may take you to distant places, but it is primarily an inner journey.
You might bring a vision of great beauty and light, wisdom that benefits all of mankind, something world-redeeming.
But you could also return with donuts (which, depending on who you talk to, is even better). The heart of heroism is giving, in whatever form you can.
The value in conquering cancer, sobering up, slaving all those long hours for the 7% bonus or finally mastering the intricacies of the TV remote is in sharing what you've brought back: strength, coping strategies, money, the ability to watch an entire season of "Dogs With Jobs" in one sitting. You have the potential to bestow priceless treasures. Why hoard them?
Each of us is an aspect of the whole of humanity, inextricable and essential and perfect in our imperfection. Each of us is connected to all others and everything we do affects others. Therefore you really don't have to do much to make an impression, do you?
Plug along. Do your best. Instead of getting discouraged, rest for a moment, give yourself a pat on the head, then dive into life again. And tell yourself this is not a crisis, not a tragedy. This is an Adventure.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Unconscious Self-Betrayal

Metaphor is a kind of communication that relies more on images than words. We find metaphor in poetry and myth and dreams and art. Where language defines and separates ideas, metaphor connects and relates.
We need them both.
Most of everyday life can be described with words, but there's a whole level of life below the surface, an overwhelming, messy web of stuff we just can't sort out. And that is the realm of metaphor.
The conscious is primarily concerned with the physical world: making a living, planning and judging. The unconscious is hooked into the behind-the-scenes infrastructure, the great mysteries of life, the ultimate hows and whys.
The conscious and unconscious are constantly exchanging information. The unconscious feeds the conscious mysterious tidbits regarding what's going on behind the scenes. The conscious gives the unconscious news bulletins about the physical world. Sometimes the conscious is baffled by the stuff that comes from the unconscious. Sometimes it just doesn't want to know.
Here's where it gets interesting:
We manipulate the physical world consciously. We make decisions, we move around and we change things. This is at the heart of being human.
So why not assume that we also manipulate the unseen world, unconsciously? We wouldn't do this by making decisions and doing, but unconsciously? And the affects wouldn't be linear and straightforward and predictable, but magnified and far-reaching, precisely because we are dealing with the underpinnings of the physical world, not just the surface.
What if all of the stuff that we can't put into words is even more important that the stuff we know we are doing? What if just through our bumbling existence we affect the infrastructure of the world?
Wouldn't that make you want to change the thoughts you don't know you have? Wouldn't that make it urgent to decipher the metaphors that come bubbling up from your unconscious, the ones that you've been ignoring? At this point, wouldn't it be useful to know if your unconscious doesn't quite agree with your conscious, and is following its own agenda?
For example, if you are pretending that everything is okay but below the surface you are seething with rage, wouldn't it do you good to try to get those conflicting selves into alignment, and try to find a way of living that will satisfy them both? Wouldn't it be easier to live if your unconscious were not betraying you behind your back?
And you might discover that the unconscious is much wiser than the conscious, with all of its words and plans.
But there's more (like they say on the infomercials), and this is the really exciting part:
What if we can find a way to manipulate the unseen world consciously? What if, once we get our conscious and unconscious to agree, and get them communicating regularly, we can train ourselves to speak back to the unconscious in its own language, the language of metaphor, and thereby manipulate the infrastructure of the physical world not just by accident, but purposely?
How amazing would that be?