It’s over. The relatives have gone home, happy, well fed and well loved. Just one more set of weird rituals to go, the official end to the Holiday Season: Alcohol Consumption, Get Maudlin About Time Passing and Drunk Driving Night followed by Hangover and Resolution Breaking Day.
If I can just get through those without being turned into highway hamburger I can breathe my annual January 1 sigh of relief for a month and a half until Early Christian Martyrs Memorial Co-opted to Chaucerian Poetic England-Bohemia Treaty Celebration Co-opted to Greeting Card, Chocolate Candy and Erotic Underwear Consumption Day on February 14. Then there’s a whole month before Catholic Irish Feast Co-opted to Neo-Bacchanal Alcohol Consumption Day on March 17, followed soon after by Pagan Vernal Equinox Fertility Rite Co-opted to Catholic/Protestant Resurrection Celebration Co-opted to Chocolate Leporid and Ovum Icons Consumption Day on March 23.
Then there are several months of quietude when no co-opted religious holidays affect me much until Celtic Harvest, Livestock Slaughter and Passing of the Dead Festival Co-opted to Roman Pagan Harvest, Livestock Slaughter and Passing of he Dead Festival Co-opted to Roman Catholic All Saints Vigil/Feast Co-opted to Subconscious Psycho-Sexual Sado-Masochistic Eros-Thanatos Paravestite Fetish Fantasy Catharsis and Candy Consumption Day on October 31, when the madness begins to build and build toward Every Culture On the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice Sure Hope we Don’t Freeze Or Starve Before Spring Ritual Co-opted to Christian Birth of Founder Celebration Co-opted to Consume As Much Electricity, Food and Manufactured Goods as Humanly Possible Day on December 25.
Notice how they’ve all been co-opted to some kind of consumption day. Hooray America.
But seriously folks,
The approach of the New Year is a time when many people take stock of themselves and sometimes follow the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. It’s a good idea in principle I guess, although those resolutions are usually more perishable than egg salad on a hot day. But take stock I will and resolving I shall.
I’m sitting here right now, really late at night wiggling my fingers over a keyboard making words to publish on an atheist website, and it strikes me how utterly absurd that seems. What a goofy activity to be doing. How can I possibly take this seriously? In any activity the times when I am angry or frustrated or being hurtful or doing something that will later be embarrassing to me are all times when I am taking myself too seriously. I cause the most trouble when I take myself too seriously. Saying something like “Oh yeah?! How dare you!” is a big clue.
Think about the people you have encountered here who in your opinion were the biggest fools. Weren’t they the ones who were taking themselves way too seriously? Their pomposity or their indignation or their justification for being unkind are all from that silly, foolish self-importance. Think also that somebody out there may consider you to be the self-important fool.
So I renew my resolution to not do that.
Consider coming along with me on this, both believers and non-believers. Care about your opinions and values, argue well for them, passionately defend what you see is valuable, work diligently for justice, but don’t take yourself too seriously. I’m not saying to be flip or cavalier or to not give a damn. The issues discussed here are usually important and significant. But when your stomach is etching an ulcer, your teeth are grinding each other flat, your brain is practicing for a stroke, your heart is rehearsing an infarction and you’re wishing all that will happen to somebody else then maybe you need to lighten up!
I don’t see enlightenment as “to see the light” so much as “to lighten up.” I think there’s a way to lighten up and to still take a stand, to transform our too-serious foolishness into a healthy kind, a Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill” kind.
May your new year be not too serious.