Faith is the New God

Gobekli

Engraving from Gobekli Tepe

In Yuval Harari’s masterful look at the history of the human race, Sapiens, he relates that 10,000 years ago the human race went from being hunter-gathers to farmers. During this Agricultural Revolution, Man domesticated a few key species of animals and plants and settled down to create home. The question is why did this happen. Scholars used to think that it was advances in Man’s intelligence at this time that made him able to decipher Nature’s secrets, enabling him to tame sheep and cultivate wheat, and abandon the more dangerous life of being hunter-gatherers. Harari calls this a “fantasy” and “history’s biggest fraud.”

Studies of ancient skeletons from this period show that humans paid dearly for the transition to a dependence on wheat. For instance, they moved from ten-hour work weeks to hunt and gather food, to forty to sixty-hour work weeks to grow it. And with this change came new obstacles–slipped discs, arthritis, hernias, worse diet, hunger and disease. Wheat demanded a lot – cleared fields, space, water, nutrients and a secured area, so that no pests or animals destroyed your crops.

With no evidence that humans became smarter at this time of their history, what could have made them discard a lifestyle where they worked less than ten hours a week for their food, had a healthy, varied diet, and the freedom to roam and live wherever they wanted?

One of Harari’s answers is survival of the species. You could now, under the best circumstances have lots of babies who also require lots of attention, have them in one place called home and keep them alive more easily rather than carry one or two around with you as you gathered and hunted.

Oh, and there’s one more reason Harari suggests why you might want to settle down to change your lifestyle and feed a lot of people in a consistent fashion.  God.

Of all the human genera–Homo Neanderthalis, Homo Erectus, etc.— Homo Sapiens were the most social of the human species, a community of gossips, of storytellers, of animals who liked to share consciousnesses. They not only survived but beat out the other species of humans because they had the ability to tell stories together, and create fictions that helped them thrive.

One of those fictions over the years is money. It has no inherent value, but because we all agree that it has value, the financial system works. Another is God. We could gather and tell stories about God or Gods,  why we we’re here and collectively believe in the same set of stories and characters.

For proof of this connection to God, Harari points out that the first wheat was domesticated in southwest Turkey within miles of the Gobekli Tepe. This is a monumental Stonehenge-like structure from the period seven thousand years before Stonehenge was created, covered with spectacular engravings. Large quantities of food were required to feed the many people it took to build and use these monumental structures. The structures, as far as we can tell, have no practical purpose, except for the worship of God or Gods.

Man has always wondered, has always needed to explain who he was as part of the universe, has always made up stories of why we are here. To do that, he has built many monuments to God(s).  The form God(s) have taken has changed with the culture, but the need for God(s) have remained constant. That’s a human need at our very base. Let’s call that need faith. Faith that Man fits into the universe and has reason to be here.

Harari suggests that we are the only animal that went from a middle place on the food chain to the top in an extremely short period of time. Evolution had time to deal with other animals who ascended the food chain, to balance things out. With Man this evolution is currently behind and trying to catch up. That has added to our need for God(s). We are a little neurotic about whether we really belong here, on top of the food chain or not.

This same neuroses fueled the Scientific Revolution which started about 500 years ago. Now we weren’t just hunting for, or growing our own apples, we were asking why they fell to the ground. We went from thinking we knew everything to thinking we knew nothing and therefore questioning everything. Through this we have learned so much about our world, studied so much about our world and changed so much about our world.

But science is rudderless. And the basis for it is a lust for knowledge. We’ve made the causes to advance humanity since the Scientific Revolution, but haven’t really considered just how global were the effects of our actions: food chain neuroses.

So we race against time. We reverse engineer everything. We deny the overall causes we have made in the universe, even as Nature delivers the effects of those causes as a planet out of balance. We recycle and hope. And still protect our nest-eggs by buying stocks in conscious-less companies and build our houses on flood plains.

Our current lust for knowledge has so many times led us to think that we have outlived the need for faith. We think we live separate from nature. In the past, we committed ourselves to social structures and moral structures based on living with these stories of faith in an organized way. But now, we don’t need God, we say. That is an old- fashioned concept, we say.

Still, as a race, we seek for things that bring us together.  This need for faith that I propose is at the core of being human still creates amazing things communally–whether it is culture, tribe, village, town, city, nation, sports culture, brand culture.

Some admit to our need for faith, but say that it doesn’t matter what we believe in, as long as in our chosen groups we believe, and everyone else does too. That is how faith works.

This works for a while. But ultimately it is not very holistic and our place in the universe is lost. We can have faith that the Yankees are going to be great this year or that Chanel is a cool brand, but that doesn’t cut it when you get laid off or your girl friend walks out.

That’s why we’re in a sea change, right now. We are post Scientific Revolution. It is time to understand how our individual faith works and use it to become more responsible, to dialogue, to tell and gather around positive causes and stories

And we will know when we are on to something when each of us finds that “open space created by dialogue—whether conducted with our neighbors, with history, with the nature of the cosmos—that human wholeness can be sustained,” says SGI Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda. He goes on, “The closed silence of an autistic space can only become the site of spiritual suicide. We are not born human in any but a biological sense; we can only learn to know ourselves and others and thus be trained in the way of being human.”

As I said at the beginning of this essay, Harari’s book is masterful, but he has a very modern Achilles heel. He believes most deeply in his own intelligence. And once he follows that road alone, he ends up in a very dark alley. Without faith and human heart- to-heart connection, he fears everything the future could bring, and frightens himself and us with the twin Frankensteins of cloning and building technological human beings.

He forgets the human need for faith that raised a culture of worship from nothing in ancient Turkey, and so have many others.

What does that faith look like? Where do I go to get it? I don’t know. I met a Nichiren Buddhist 21 years ago and then married her. That’s who I got it from.

Nichiren Buddhism is just one cultural religious practice that can help. It talks about the enlightened nature of things — that everything has its dark side and its enlightened side. It says that everyone has the potential to be a Buddha—an enlightened human, but the struggle to do so is a consistent key to how we must live every day. It says that we are our environment (not that other guy), change ourselves and our environment changes. Then it gives us tools to train our humanity to go towards the light, on a daily, weekly, yearly, lifelong, culture-long, nation-long basis.

There are other moral-ethical-historical-religious structures, stories and principles that can help us get there. Pick one. Because the one thing we have proven time and again through the darkness of the human soul, is that we can’t do it alone. We need each other.

When our negative, secular culture wants to tell dystopian stories of our disasters and demise, our job is to tell and gather around positive causes and stories. Our job is to take actions to create positive culture. Our job is to remember that at the core of our human being is a need for Faith.

 

 

The Problem of Car Brakes

car brakeWhat’s wrong with car brakes these days? They are a pretty nifty invention that bring a car to a complete stop without hurting yourself or anyone else.  Plus, the car companies have made these cool red tail lights that inform the car behind you that the guy in front is applying the brakes so you’d better do the same.

Braking seems like a no-brainer. Thank goodness wiser heads prevail. This is America, and unless you were born yesterday, you’ve probably heard that car brakes hinder our freedom to crash.

The anti-braking lobby has made a point of using its money to inform every good citizen that our rights are being impinged upon. They have rewritten drivers ed textbooks and hired a new brand of teacher to train young drivers that crashing is fun (remember bumper cars?).

Meantime, the medical profession has become involved in this critical problem. Studies show that braking drivers are especially prone to a carpel tunnel-like syndrome affecting their ankles. Now social media regularly displays the perils of braking.

Really though, it’s just a rubber pedal. It’s not that big a deal, I say. And it would save lots of lives and lots of vehicles. You’d think that common sense might play a part. But, they say it’s both dangerous and un-American to touch that brake, so I’m staying away.

Maybe one day the pharmaceutical industry will develop a pill we can take for getting cars to stop patriotically.

Meanwhile, be careful out there.

Squeworld Domination

 

SquirrelThey don’t have bushy tails. They build square trees that are hard to chew. They have no fur covering and as a result have reverse engineered a heating system called global warming that they think will allow them never to have to wear coats again.

They know little. They have upset the balance of the universe. It’s time to thin the herd.

Start by finding one of their older square trees. The wood is aged, softer, uses less chemicals and is better tasting. Find a nice soft spot to start–under a gutter is perfect where the water has consistently soaked the wood–
and chew.

These vulnerable spots are surprisingly gourmet. Once inside the square tree, go straight for the attic. No microwaves. In fact, stay out of the kitchen entirely. There is more than enough to eat and enjoy in the attic: The Brothers Karamazov, 1979 Playboy Magazines, tax returns, doll clothes. When they decide to investigate, hide in the insulation and giggle. Their egos, which are as large as a Mercedes, will not be able to take it and they will storm out of the house and go to Boca Raton. Now you have them where you want them. Permanently out of town.

Another alternative is to chew off their thumbs. Yes, chew them off. This can be done quickly all throughout the summer months when they resort to sleeping in hammocks. Or if you organize a posse, a picnic ambush is not out of the question.

Opposable thumbs are the secret of their success, but also their downfall. Yes, they can grip cans of Progresso Chicken Sausage Gumbo soup, but they also use these stumpy digits to win at Candy Crush. God has given them vocal cords and excellent hand-eye coordination, yet they have been seduced into trying to communicate and change the world using only their thumbs.

Imagine how little exercise they get! Have you ever seen them skitter around a tree trunk chasing their friends by racing up the branches of one tree only to leap courageously onto the branch of a neighboring tree as it bounces but just holds you, being followed in a split second by two friends who are squealing with delight? Compare this to winning Candy Crush and tell me who is greater.

They have a complex wrongheaded idea of storing nuts for winter. I’m not the best animal to explain it, but it has something to do with closed end mutual funds.

They don’t believe in anything except carbohydrates and wifi. Taking advantage of their neuroses is easy.  Try dropping nut shells on their heads and see what fictions manifest. They are particularly good at making mountains out of molehills. They may collect the shell samples and send them to a lab to see if part of one of the moons of Saturn broke off and happened to land in their vicinity. They might think that their habit of having no good way of recycling Styrofoam turned Oxygen molecules into little white pills. They could think that your tree is raining cancerous growths and invent a shampoo to deal with it. Either way, you have diverted them from reality. Good work.

Next, steal their Citronella candle, then stand absolutely stock still and watch them freak out below, drowned in a sea of suffering. They are sure they had it yesterday. Who would steal a Citronella candle from the back porch deck? The guests are getting bitten by mosquitos and complaining. And they’re important guests! Business deals could be hatched here, but where’s the damn candle! Shit the steaks are burning.

They will not see you in their befuddlement even though you’re close by.  If we were compassionate towards this race we would scream, “it’s not about the candle!” but this wisdom is only apparent to you, me and the other rodents.

But the absolute best strategy is to leave them alone. Our best reality is super still–the joy of standing so still they could swear you’re a statue. But then your tail switches and your friend leaps off the porch rail from a standing position, and the world is a green paradise of having.  Their reality is want.

Besides, studies have shown that they like chocolate. In fact, three out of four would rather have chocolate than sex. So, if we pile our cocoa nuts right, with very little effort, we can rule the world.

Breaking the Shell

chick-hatching-dreamstime_12036145

Have you noticed that due to the times, or perhaps it’s the aging process, it is harder and harder to break the shell of the lesser self?

We want things the way we want them. We worked hard to get them that way, damnit. So why should we put up with anything less than ideal?

The lesser self is a needy bastard.

Let’s define our terms. The dictionary defines ‘lesser self’ as egotistical concerns and desires. Does that remind you of anyone?

That’s right, you. When you sat in your bedroom and binged on a whole bag of Twizzlers because your mother told you to clean your room. You were punishing her weren’t you? Take that mom! Let’s not talk about the fact that Mom, by this time, was having a good massage and lunch with a friend. You were going to eat until you got sick. That’ll show her.

Not.

Your lesser self is a closed circuit TV. It’s a feedback loop. It’s you, stuck in your shit and usually blaming it on everyone but yourself.

When the lesser self needs something it always looks outside itself for answers. Here are some telltale signs.

1) You use the strategy of the shopping mall instead of the strategy of your heart.

2) You start every sentence with, “Please oh please oh please God, if you do this one thing for me I’ll be forever grateful.”

3) You decide the answer to life is Twinkies.

4) You call your guru on Monday, your mother on Tues, your shrink on Wed., your zen meditation master on Thursday, and then say screw it and visit your bartender (or local pusher) on Friday and stay drunk (or high) the rest of the weekend.

5) You think you see the devil in everyone but yourself.

6) You run faster and faster to succeed and find yourself more and more lost.

7) You tell off someone you love because you know they’re right.

8) You elect Obama so you can hope for a better world, but you are still an asshole to the people around you.

9) You elect Trump so you can get a better job instead of sending out applications.

Your greater self on the other hand is simply the world’s biggest umbrella. You put it up and it is WAY bigger than you are. There is PLENTY of room under your umbrella for your family (even the ones you haven’t spoken to in awhile), your boss, your mechanic, the doctor’s assistant, half the town! It is an expansion of your life to its interconnectivity with the universe.

When your lesser self thinks “why is the world so selfish and cut up?” That is your most opportune moment to put your greater self to work. YOU are the missing link that will right it.

Which is why my greater self is working on a new screenplay.

The Value Games is set in a dystopian future and concerns a girl/woman played by Anne Hathaway who must win a competition to find value in everything. One of her main competitors is Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence, who loses in the final round by telling Anne to go fuck herself when Anne catches her trying to shoot Zooey Deschanel with a barbed contract clause. Katniss wins the battle but loses the war when they sign Ivanka Trump for Hunger Games 6.

In The Value Games  world it takes your heart and humility to accomplish anything. Those with brains, ego and arrogance need not apply. And when they do, Anne tells them, one at a time, how to spell douchebag. Nicely though, because Anne wins by creating value, and most of them spell douchebag without the ‘e’.

Anne’s final battle is with Donald Trump who tests her patience and the dictum “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She tries to find value there, desperate to create good, but all she finds is dollar bills; even when he strips to his jockeys, which he does for a dick-raising contest with Caitlin Jenner. The Don wins the battle by using rolled up real estate sales contracts secured with Tiffany stick pins to shoot spitballs through, but loses the war because his heart is a lump of gold plated snot.

The book ends with Anne whispering the secret of her beautiful heart to a green hobbit child who is about to go on the great journey of life without diapers, but we can’t hear what she says because we have to find out on our own.

 

Thumbing It

thumb-typingI am sitting here in Extremely Short Burst Activity Land (ESBAL) jabbing both thumbs continuously at my little iPhone, shooting out this message to you. I excel in short burst activities because they are easy–you have a sense of accomplishment and you can exercise your thumbs.

One of the first business seminars I ever attended taught me that your life can be eaten up by short burst activities. You think you are accomplishing all manner of great things and you are actually doing little more than sending emojis to your pet. Your overall goals are obfuscated in the mad but happily satisfying dust cloud of activity you are in.Their advice, in 1976, was to take the long view. Set achievable goals and then break down big activities into enough do-able short burst activities so that there is a mind behind your project, not just adrenaline. I don’t think they had any idea just how trapped in ESBAL we would be in 2017.

Yet, my jabs are the way I feel this morning–erratically anxious about the world and my place in it–and happy to translate that into punctuated thumb jabs. I used to be old school and wrote in a journal book with a pen, no less, and often had a hard time reading what I wrote because I always wrote on the bus and let’s be honest, our infrastructure isn’t what it used to be. Now I can read what I write as long as I can understand spellcheck speak. For instance I just jabbed out, “Now I van ride when I eriyf.”

Isn’t spellcheck wonderful? Do they even call it spellcheck any more? Or have they renamed it something catchier like Icorrect or ffydj fudge?

Do you think my thoughts would flow better if I just took out my old pen and let this blog roar out from its tip; stretch my whole arm and wrist and really write, instead of hunching my shoulders and using the tiny brain I have at the tips of my thumbs?

Let’s try. I’m putting my phone away. I’m taking out my pen. I’m writing. (Later retyped because this blog site doesn’t accept cursive.)

I’m writing! I’m actually writing with a pen! I’m still on the bus! I’m still writing! And this is pretty hurky jerky. On the other hand it at least is one long connected thing; not put together from my typewriter head, or a thumb jab, letter by letter.  With this handwriting, my letters and words literally flow together. The ink feels a bit magical like this wise liquid which someone has engineered to come out of the tip of this pen. And I have to say that the feeling of its flowing while I manipulate it is pleasurable.

I think I am less adamant in ink, need less acknowledgement, because the pleasure of the page permanently accepting this change in its chemistry, wrought by me, is acknowledgement all by itself.  Also there is permanence. This hard copy page has been changed forever. I even feel less short bursty. I look out the window. The river is beautiful. The ice is breaking up and there’s a blue greenness at the base of each ice flow that has not yet risen to its crusty white top. With a pen I have time to notice these things. Somehow, I notice less when my thumbs are leading the way.

Jeez. I’m going to have to re-type all of this from my sometimes illegible journal page.

We’ve crossed the bridge, we’re two minutes from the train now. Better put the journal and pen back in my backpack for the ride. But what a nice respite. Dreamy. In the flow.

Almost there, but my phone beckons. My thumbs itch.

I long to be tapping. As if my thumbs were in charge.

Damn it to hell! Let’s face it, we’re all thumbs.

lsiheno9fnei. hardisordifronchicex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Day and other Words that Turn

noisemakers

Happy New Year.

Well, maybe this year, we should work on something more realistic. How about, Happy New Day?

Not that I don’t expect you to have a great year. It’s just ‘Happy New Year’ is biting off a whole lot more than anyone can reasonably chew at one time. As Jonathan Larsen reminded us, there are 525,600 minutes in a year. There are going to be good minutes and bad minutes. Let’s face it. That’s life. If you get all Pollyanna and try to take on the whole year at once by pasting the word ‘happy’ on it, you are 1) being unrealistic, 2) will be disappointed, and 3) need to keep smoking that stuff for the next 364 straight days to actualize, and frankly I wouldn’t advise it.

Then there’s this problem that by saying, feeling, resolving, and determining Happy New Year on January 1 that you feel you must be happy for a whole year or that the year will naturally be filled with constant joy. And that resolve lasts until the first obstacle approaches which is usually 9am on Jan. 1, when you have to get out of bed because you promised your mother you’d walk the dog since she’s away and if he doesn’t get walked by 9 he has a habit of peeing on the clean laundry in the laundry basket.

Health clubs love January 1 and 2, and sometimes the Happy New Year effect lasts until January 3 or 4.  All these people come streaming in to join and pay the annual fee, and the clubs smile and welcome them, knowing that they won’t see 99 per cent of them again, until next January. Happy New Year.

Or you could have the opposite problem. I have a friend whose mother damns the past and by extension, the future. This morning she’ll write her new message to put on her refrigerator as a reminder, “2016, worst year ever” and take down the old one, “2015, worst year ever.”

Someone said to me last night, “I hope this new year is better,” as if a unit of time were responsible for him having a good or bad year. The only person, place or thing responsible for whether you have a good or bad year is you. If something you think is bad happens to you on the first day of 2017, and you turn around and blame the year (and then by extension somehow curse the other 364 days of your beautiful life that is trying to blossom every day), then you’ve just lost a year!

And when that bad thing happens, because let’s face it, things you deem as bad will happen, then the opportunity for challenge and redemption from that bad thing is also being tarnished. “Oh shit, it’s just a bad year all around,” you might say.

Words matter. So when you fling them around, thinking they’re not important, don’t act surprised when the chickens come home to roost.  Words are the reality you are committing to, whether you know they are lies at the time, or not. They change reality. Look at fake news.

So here’s another one: The Pursuit of Happiness

No wonder we’re so miserable! 241 years later Americans are running around like chickens with their heads cut off pursuing happiness. You can see it in the arrogant way we chase the dollar.

Thomas Jefferson was a smart guy. Why didn’t he use his own inner wisdom to make the Declaration of Independence read: “…life and the liberty to find the happiness within”? Then all this ridiculous, ambitious, American “pursuing” would be nullified and we would do what we must – look within for our answers; for that is the only place where our real happiness lies. Imagine a government that was actually created to protect the unalienable rights of helping human beings find the happiness within? Yikes! That would be a different animal from the one we have entirely.

And while we’re talking animals, let’s talk about this one from those early Bible superstars Adam and Eve: “…dominion over the animals.” Here’s another instance where one word in the wrong place has had disastrous effects.

Over? Really? What arrogance! No wonder the planet is in such a mess. This change in the bible story that occurred by those in charge of putting the Bible together in 200 AD was a kind of Dick Cheney sort of thing. (Remember the Clear Skies Act of 2003 which actually loosened controls for pollution?) It was there, it was easy. It was fun to play with words. Animals are stupid and had no vote. So why not make the story that God said we had “dominion over”, instead of the way it originally read “dominion with” the animals.

‘With’! Like share the planet with them for christ sake! Like it’s not all for you. What were you thinking? You have to share! There’s a Native American reservation in Montana where great money, effort and expense have been summoned to build bridges over the highways for heavily travelled animal trails. Like that!

Think about the words we live with. Think about the words we take for granted. Then don’t always take them for granted. 2017 just might be a good year to examine everything. And I mean everything!

Share. Think. Live tougher. Respect. Repeat.

Happy New Day!

 

My New Toys

dodge-ram-07

Truck

I love my monster. It has wheels half as tall as the Empire State Building. You need an elevator to get down from the cab. When you rev its engine, it sounds like a bull elephant smashing into a private jet on the runway just before it takes off. You know, that throaty, guttural groan whenever I so much as touch the accelerator? And when I do, it leaps forward like a stallion with its tail on fire leaping over the planet Mars. Awesome doesn’t describe it. Its sound system is okay. My only regret is that it hasn’t blown my ear drums out completely yet, but there’s still time.

Whenvever I’m in it, I feel so IMAX. Like big. Really, really big. Like Trump big. King of the road, y’know? Completely in charge and at the steering wheel. I can go wherever the hell I want, even off-road up the side of an active volcano’s smoking, oozing lava flow. Anyone who criticizes me for spending too much money, or being not fucking ecological enough, or being in people’s faces and taking up every centimeter of their rear view mirror (not to mention their side mirror, windshield, and rear windows), because encountering my big black behemoth is a little like getting swallowed by  a black hole (but a black hole that just happens to have Snoop Dog playing in its vacuum), is a piece of shit.

Best of all, whenever I drive it I am surrounded by little ninny toy cars and wussie pedestrians who look up to me like I am somebody. My wife says, those ARE toy cars and please watch out for our kids.

Tomorrow, if I can figure out how this new key thing works I’m thinking of taking it out of the driveway. Not that I’m not perfectly happy up here. I suppose I could buy the new Nas song on iTunes or check my Facebook page (but I’m a little tired of all my asshole friends posting photos of them and their big trucks– like really?–get a life!)

Dolls

I’ve just bought myself a Mr. Zombie Head doll and I can’t tell you how delighted I am. It has a big rubber head and a little body, but its right hand is normal sized and it holds up a little toy iPhone to its big head and peers into it. I love to put it into danger!

Sometimes I put him walking down the street and a truck runs him down because he’s texting and not only doesn’t look where he’s going, but doesn’t seem to care. Sometimes he gets so involved in a video game that his head melts in the sun. Sometimes he plays videos on his iPhone out loud because he lost his earbuds and the people around him on the quiet car in the train beat him with their briefcases and hang him by his heels from the luggage racks. But he really doesn’t care. He just wants to get a high score. Sometimes we go to the beach together, where he loses his iPhone in the sand and has to buy a new one which he does immediately at a shop on the boardwalk and upgrades to an iPhone 6 plus with an automatic upgrade to an iPhone 7 when they come in later in the year.

When I get enough money, I’m going to buy a Mrs. Zombie Head doll, and I’m going to make them simulate phone sex by going to dinner at a nice restaurant and sitting opposite each other and not speaking once to each other, only to the waiter. But you’ll know they like each other, because when you actually pick Mr. Zombie Head’s face up from his iPhone (which is hard to do, you actually have to take a knife and cut his arm off to do it) you’ll see that the face you formerly couldn’t see, because it was drilling down from app to app, has a little smirk on it. When I ask him why this is, he’ll tell me it is not the simulated phone sex with Mrs. Zombie Head, it is because he has two more Facebook friends.

My Mr. Zombie Head doll is endless fun. Best of all, he’s only a toy.

Fardels Bear

This stuffed animal is a burden, pure and simple. You may think he is your cuddly little snuggle actualizer, but don’t be fooled, his real mission is to make you want to kill yourself.

He has a strange ability to gain weight as you carry him around from fardel party to fardel party. Worse, once you get to the party, you realize that everyone else’s bear is being fashionably bourne in the latest style, while yours is splayed, grasping your chest and neck with his claws, making you gasp for air as the blood trickles down to your navel.

If you just had the receipt you could return him and complain, but you don’t. Besides, they’ve discontinued them. Fardels Bears haven’t trended since 1602.

Let’s face it. You were given a fardels bear for a reason and you have to make the most of him. He is likely the bear of those ills you have and must be bourne; because once you fly to others you know not of, you are sidestepping your karma and not facing yourself directly in the mirror. This is your bear, stuffed with your can’ts, wants, won’ts and shouldn’ts. So get used to him. Your job in this lifetime is to figure out how to loosen his grip, fingernail by fingernail.

Once you’ve done that, fling him from the highest cliff and rest happy. You are much better visiting the undiscovered country alone.

Adventures of an Analog Human in a Digital World

no-internetI admit. I made a mistake. I should have waited until our IT guy could get the internet back up.

I was trying to get an okay on a photo from the head of Marketing. The rest of the office was playing table tennis, batting wads of paper back and forth over their desks with their MacAirs. But I have this annoying work ethic and the deadline was approaching, whether our email was down or not.

So, I printed out a copy and walked to the Marketing head’s office. I was stopped by her gatekeeper.

“What are you doing,” she asked as if her pet dog we’re being stolen by bad children.

“I’m going to see Samantha,” I said, and, knowing that to engage in a twenty somethings interface angst was a mistake, kept walking. She spluttered and tried to lift the phone receiver as a warning but I was too fast.

“Here,” I breathed to Samantha, “Can you approve this photo for me?”

She looked at me, a little taken aback as I shoved a grainy black and white printed on copy paper towards her. She seemed to be studying me. To be honest, we hadn’t actually laid eyes on each other since a fire drill in 2012. And on that day we had only caught each other’s glance from forty feet away. I likewise surprised myself by hungrily devouring my proximity to another human and noticed her lovely cheeks and an odd standing floor lamp that splashed light over her desk.

“Have you ever done this before,” she asked innocently, like Juliet on her wedding night.

“Not since 1979,” I admitted sheepishly, “since before e-mail was invented.” She had a shapely mole on her jawline.

“Don’t let them see us,” she said.

“Too late,” I moaned, “Annette already saw me and tried stop me. Quick, can you approve the photo,” I breathed heavily.

Unaccustomed to making decisions without staring at her computer screen, she panicked. “I can’t. I can’t. Let me look at it and get back to you.”

I wanted to say, ‘but you’re looking at it now! That’s why I printed it out and defied all internet office protocol to barge into your office just to see if there were any actual humans on the other ends of these emails. I gave it to you, so you could look at it with all your college education and tell me whether animals will be harmed or wars started if we use it!’ But I didn’t. Two wrongs don’t make a right, I remembered. Instead I whimpered “Okay,” thankful that she was old enough and sensible enough not to have called security on me or sprayed me with pepper spray.

I hesitated. Thinking that maybe…one day…we might have a meeting, or perhaps run into each other on the way to the rest rooms. For now, it was over. This moment of human contact. I needed to protect myself.

I slowly backed out of her office while her gatekeeper watched an episode of Parks and Recreation, forgetting about the danger I presented. As I headed back to my office I heard the announcement over the loudspeaker system. The internet was back up. The children put down their toys and faced their screens again. Order was restored.

But my days were numbered. A week later I was called into the HR office and told that a company like this one couldn’t afford security breaches of this kind.  It was bad for morale. I was asked to clean out my desk and told that Bruce would accompany me down stairs to the front door. I would never enter an office in this company again. It turned out that between episodes, Annette had reported me.

I took my pathetic box of belongings as Sean eyed me like the dangerous sociopath I was, and together we greeted the late afternoon sun. Let me say this straight off, I’m not in any way attracted to hefty Irish goons with guns on their belts. But it seemed to me the ultimate sacrifice and hope for the human race, that before I walked off into the sunset I touch his arm, and look into his heart. So I did, and said thank you. And to Bruce’s credit he didn’t go for his gun, but smiled, turned on his heel and walked back into the darkness.

Solutions for 2016

HONITON HIPPO

The Hippo Deduction

Problems with the IRS?

Become a hippo! That’s right. You’ve taken on a few more pounds than you should anyway. Hippos are not Americans. They are residents of sub-Saharan Africa. They don’t have drivers licenses. They don’t have to hire expensive tax preparers and fill out 1040s.

Just replace your Facebook and Linked in profile photos with the picture you took of a hippo last time you went to the zoo and you’re home free.

The IRS can’t take a hippo to court! Wrong habitat! They can’t be cross examined or plead the fifth because they won’t fit in the witness box. Their legal domicile is mud. Put them on varnished flooring they’ll lose their footing and take several government lawyers down with them.  Push them on a technicality, they’ll sue those pencil-pushers from here to Wakkerstroom Wetland under the Endangered Species Act.

So, when the IRS comes knocking, just put on your hippo mask and smile. You’re covered.

Virus Away!

Purchase this maladjusted magic wand for the price of a song (must be “Some Enchanted Evening” sung by The Harry Potter Gospel Choir). Wave it at your computer screen and all the malware, adware, virus ware, hardware and deck chairs disappear from your computer system. Also works on Excel formulas you can’t figure out and word documents where the margins seem to have a life of their own.

Self-killing Geese

No guns, no hunting license, no plucking or preparing. They know when it’s dinner time. Just open your front door and your oven and they flap in, pre-plucked. Try Teriyaki (they fly through a car wash that covers them with sauce) or Truffle oil.

Bad Breath? — Try Surgery

Global warming? Polluted planet? Wars of religion? No scourge is worse than the scourge of bad breath. But now, bad breath can be remedied with surgery. You heard right! Have your gums surgically removed and no food will ever get caught in them again! Plus, has the added benefit of turning your mouth into maracas. Just close your lips and shake those gumless teeth! Caramba!

Precursor Tie Spot Preventer

With deep prayer and a faith in your higher power, you will never have spotted ties again. Try Precursor with the active ingredient Natch. Here’s how it works. After praying, God will lead you to where your lunch’s biggest drips will end up BEFORE THEY HAPPEN! Just apply Precursor with a steady hand to those exact spots and not a millimeter more. And then eat. When the spaghetti sauce flies, it goes directly to the pre-treated, Precursor drops you’ve applied to your tie. The result? A perfectly spotless tie every time!

No Chin? No Worries!

Nothing below your lips? Is the distance between the bottom of your face and your mouth less than 2 cm? Now you can rest easy, Dr. Chindimple can help. His patented process of putting marbles next to your lower gums to stretch your face has achieved stupendous results on men, women, girls, boys, even salamanders. Why live with a jawline that stops at your front teeth? Make an appointment by calling 1-888-NOCHIN.

And, for serious cases, try Dr. Chindimple’s Roving Chin. This small fleshy marmot is shaved and made to look like a chin, then trained to cling to your jawline. For an extra fee we will train it to reposition itself from side to side based on jokes you might be telling, but only if it gets the joke. Comes with 6 plastic ziplock bags of marmot food and a Barbie Princess Suite to tuck your chin to bed in at night. Go ahead, scratch your chin in contemplation like Abe LIncoln.   (Not responsible for ticklish marmots.)

Reading Problems? Why not fuse your child’s spine to a Chair!

That’s right. Dr. Lev Solonoloff has written a paper on the effects of pediatric spinal fusion on a whole host of things including bedwetting (more), sedimentary wastewater (none), sympathy for Toulouse Lautrec (plenty), yen for string cheese (duh), all due to the newly discovered process of fusing your child’s spine to a chair. Most importantly, he has proven the link between your child’s poor reading habits and your bank account.

Imagine a life without reading problems. That is what this surgery will do for your child. Signs, books, texts, comics, even adult magazines, all can be read now, without the stress of knowing. You don’t have to know, and neither do they. You just put them in our hands and we’ll cripple them for good.

Dr. Solonoloff–‘Lev’ to his friends, ‘asshole’ to litigants–created this special surgery out of sugar water and string. Born with webbed feet, at the age of eight, he discovered the beauties of a soldering iron and never looked back.  If he had, he would have only seen the trees, since he lived in a forest; his parents having died in a parachuting accident. He had nothing, but what he DID have was…nothing. (I told you he had nothing! Why didn’t you believe me the first time? This is the problem with the world. Lack of faith. When will you ever grow up?)

Well, now you never DO have to grow up. Just sit quietly in a chair and read. And your twelve children? They’ll all be sitting next to you in their chairs, reading. What a perfectly lovely picture of order and value in the world. Just don’t stick around when they  ask to go to the bathroom.

Hemaroids? This will clear them right up. ADHD? This is perfect! Corporal punishment? Done. You have a chair and a spine now. Your butt is a thing of the past.

Don’t delay. If you have no time for your child, Dr. Lev has time for you.

Rules for Parents of a 13 Year Old

IMG_0472– Tell them to spend more time on their iPhone. It is teacher, friend, recreation director, novelist, film maker, shopping outlet.

– Do not speak to them until spoken to. They have much on their minds and running in their veins, don’t ruin their concentration. They’ll tell you when it’s time to speak.

– Give them the keys to the city. Make sure you open charge accounts for them at Starbucks, Forever 21, the joke shop and every store in the mall, that they can use to get whatever their heart’s desire.

– Give them the keys to the house. Two locks for their bedroom to ensure security for their valuable things, the key to the liquor cabinet in case they’d like to try new things, keys to all the doors, passwords to all your websites and accounts, especially Netflix.

-When they’re bored and ask what to do, tell them to play more video games and try to beat their past records.

– Let them win at tennis, bowling, Parcheesi, ping-pong.

If you do all these steps religiously, you will be GUARANTEED an arrogant, unfeeling and egotistical young American adult, who sucks value from the world like a weasel sucks eggs.

How to Embarrass Your 13 Year Old

Embarrassment is of the utmost importance for your 13 year old; as important as the right kind of diet and plenty of television.

– Turn off Rihanna on the radio and sing Barry Manilow tunes, preferably off-key.

– Drive them to Birthday parties and instead of just dropping them off outside, go in and say hello to the parents.

– Tell visiting family relations they are a cello prodigy and ask them to play a tune.

– Talk to their coach about why they were benched during the entire soccer game for just asking to play defense in a game they lost 9 – 0.

– Say hello to their friends when you meet them on the street and then make sure and go home and tell your 13 year old that you met their friends on the street

– Speak.

– Offer advice.

– Be.

-Ask them if they need help with their homework.

– Be yourself in public and private

You think I’m’ joking?

Conversation with a 13 year old

Me: Let’s go to the Street fair!

13: I’m going with a friend.

Me: Oh, who?

13: I haven’t set it up yet.

Me: Oh I see. And you don’t know who yet?

13: I’m setting it up.

Me: We used to have such fun at the street fairs. Would you rather go bowling?

13: Be inside on this nice day?

Me: Ok, how about a hike or a bike ride?

13: I have to be honest with you, that doesn’t sound so interesting.

Me: So basically anything to do with your parents is wrong for a 13 year old to do.

13: I’m almost 14.

Me: You’re not. You’re not even 13 and 1/2. Don’t grow up too fast. Are you sure you don’t want to go to the street fair?

13: Sure, I’m sure.

Me: Well then, Mom and I are going by ourselves.

13: Well, can you go later when me and my friend aren’t there?

Me: It’s a huge street fair! There are thousands of people there!

13: Well, just in case, don’t go ’til later, after we’re through.