Miss American Pie or Ape Talk Aspirins

00:00 July 31, 2012
By: Phil LaMancusa

Simian sez: the madness can be stopped. Counterproductive things that do you today (yes, ‘that do you’) may be the result of past inequities. Take two and call me in the morning.

Attitudes and prejudices that people exhibit are not present at their birth; counterproductive tendencies are a result of training that is strengthened by losing sight of the fact that, collectively, we all have nothing in this form but our futures and that it’s pointless not to be making the most of the short time that we have.

Okay, you’re sitting down in your favorite chair, bone-tired, after (another) full day of working your ass off for enough dough to keep your head above water, a roof over your noggin and the bill collectors away from your door, and you say to yourself, “I guess this is just about as good as it’s gonna get.” Question: Is it time to quit your job, join a cult, hit the road and surrender to the futility of your existence?

Suppose you’re on your favorite barstool, watching “Jeopardy” with the gang and trying to figure out what dinner‘s going to be, what DVD you’re gonna pop in the player before you settle in to reruns of “Frazier” or “Golden Girls,” taking Fido out and flossing another day away. And on that sultry, sweet smelling, siren wailing evening you asked yourself, “When I’m frigging 85 and walking some fleabag, will I wonder where my life went and what function I served?” Question: Should you order another double, find out if the circus is hiring or consider doing a “flying novena” to Saint Expedite?

Or, say that you’re on your morning run, after a skinny latte and bran muffin at Starbucks; looking forward to a long shower and then off to university to earn that MBA, pull down some serious bucks in the work place and after purchasing a cute condo, meeting the right person and having two point six children who you’ll send to your alma mater and blah blah blah (you know how your mind works when you lay one Nike sole down after another on the St. Charles streetcar tracks). Except today you’re thinking that, actually, all you are is a randomly constructed piece of protoplasm with no apparent purpose on the planet, destined to last X amount of time, to perish and be thrown away like that plastic Alpine Spring Water bottle that you just threw into the garbage receptacle; you, your loved ones and the horses that you rode in on… so much molecular landfill.

Now imagine you’re the youngest kid from a Seventh Ward brood walking to school in unpleasant weather trying to forget the recurring dream of the nothingness of death; of trying to scream when no sounds come out, of trying to run and your feet stuck in mud. Your headphones yelling hip hop lyrics, homework undone, lunch money tight and indifferently observing a young girl offer herself to a man in a pickup truck. It occurs to you that you didn’t ask to be born; and no amount of encouragement, prescience of possibilities or glimmers of greatness will dispel the pessimism of your ghetto gloom.

You figure your tombstone will read:“Three ways out: music; sports or dealing drugs; he weren’t no good at none of ‘em. He’d a runaway but t’weren’t no place to go…” How about a hundred million people on earth who feel that life’s pleasures are fleeting and its miseries pervasive; the bus driver who’ll be going to a funeral when he gets off; your waitress raising her children on her own; the bank teller whose hours have just been cut; the shopkeeper whose Small Business loan is defaulting; the musician whose van was just stolen; the girl in retail who just found a lump; the guy in clown makeup who didn’t know that growing up would be like this or the veteran school teacher who lost her savings when the market tanked. Salt in wounds that God is supposed to be healing.

It’s “LIFE” that wakes you to a sunny day and then proceeds to mug you into submission with circumstances beyond your control, leaving you praying for a good case of amnesia. It’s called non-clinical depression when your mental levees crumble and “Cryin’ won’t help you; prayer won’t do you no good.”

The theory is that the cause of non-clinical depression is the witnessing of our own mortality; our glimpse of death; the proof of our insignificance. We get it from experiences of life that show us how powerless we really are: a physical beating; debilitating illness; sexual abuse; bullying, teasing; hunger for food and nurturing; unrequited love; death of someone close. Something that… kills our spirit (albeit briefly). A dashing of our hopes for divine intervention or happy ending that we bury and cover with a protective layer of personality or futile diversion.

What results? A tendency to become introverted; angry; aggressive, goal-oriented and/or complacent? A dependency on a higher power, sarcasm, self medication, cynicism or a philosophy of existentialism? Insatiable appetites, a mania for exercising, nervousness, anorexia or cruelty toward small animals and weaker people? Doesn’t that all sound like a laundry list of the “human condition”?

Question: Who gives solace to the tired, comfort to the weak, strength to the poor; hope to the disillusioned; stature to someone with low self-esteem? Who provides poultices for life’s bruises; lifts up the downtrodden; swings low the sweet chariot? Answer: Nobody.

Heaven, hell, reincarnation and life after death are all hearsay. You have from this moment forward to make your life sane and enjoyable if only you can comfort your past and put it to bed. After that it’s just one foot in front of the other onto a better path. The monkey speaks.

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