Tag Archives: Christmas

The Sadness of Things

 

[Christmas thoughts ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Did you notice it? The Christmas hype is already on. Lights are going up. Commercial displays are popping up. I don’t know what’s on TV or radio, I don’t watch and don’t listen to commercial media but I’m sure it is already going strong. “Buy, buy, buy… buy, buy, buy, Buying all the way… Oh what fun it is to buy, and fill our cars with stuff!” (To the tune of Jingle Bells).

Personally I have always liked the so-called Christmas season. It began as a child when our very Catholic teachers inculcated the concept of self-sacrifice as the meaning of Christmas. I won’t bore you with the Christ born in a stable, a manger for a crib story, but it’s not such a bad myth, not if you have the background for it and are able to think for yourself.

As I grew up I was surprised to discover that Christmas, even among fellow believers, was really a time for permissible “debauchery” whether in drinking or in sexual promiscuity at parties that lasted through the night and certainly in ostentatious consumerism. Maybe I was a “tight ass” but I didn’t hold to that sort of behaviour. Oh, I didn’t say much about it, but inside, I felt cheated. It’s like I’d been lied to when I was a child. Christmas to me was the baby Jesus. He wasn’t so much the Son of God and the great to be Redemptor or Saviour. Jesus was, according to my version of the myth, the child of very poor people, people who essentially had nothing. Jesus represented all the poverty of all of humanity all across the globe. His presence didn’t mean a miraculous intervention in the ever-frustrating affairs of men. It meant a challenge to me to understand.

To compensate, then, for what I saw of the horror of materialism, I created a “proper” sense of Christmas for myself. It wasn’t something that could be shared with friends, the few I had that came and went, or associates in school, and later at work. It was a “me” that sought to flesh out the meaning of Christmas as I had been (I reasoned) properly instructed about. The challenge was to resist the temptation of commercialism and focus on its diametric opposite: self-sacrifice through selfless service to others. The challenge was for me to become what the mythological story of Jesus had depicted.

When we open ourselves up to the world as a compassionate and empathetic person, we are met with a literal heart-breaking tidal wave of sorrow. Whatever can be said of man’s world it remains only too true that it is a very sad place. So for me, the “spirit of Christmas” message is the sadness of things.

Having lived my life in a sort of voluntary service of one sort or another, I don’t feel any need to go looking for happiness. Happiness certainly has flirted with me many a time, and many a time I have reciprocated. What’s wrong with a little flirting if there is no intent to take it further? But happiness is a dangerous emotion. It doesn’t want you to stop at the flirtation, it wants you to become a believer. It wants you to dedicate your life to chasing your own tail.

Happiness in that sense, and it is mostly always in that sense, is a chimera; it’s a lie. If you have to go looking for it; if you have to make it happen, it’s a lie. If it just happens to you here and there as you live your life as impeccably as you know how, following a life goal you set for yourself and if you are not being dishonest towards your life goal then there is nothing wrong with feeling happy. It’s an unexpected bonus. But that’s all. Spend it and forget it. The poison activates while going to look for more of that emotion. That is called greed.

So back to the simple theme of this essay: sadness. Having a choice between happiness or sadness as my own expression of Christmas I choose sadness. Sadness is the foundation of wisdom. What good is wisdom to the selfish, the pleasure seekers? A bother at best. If however one seeks to truly understand “the condition” of the world, sadness is the path. Sadness, not to be confused with despair which is just pleasure-seeking turned inside out, leads to deep introspection where honesty and humility become the guides. Sadness, I have found, is a great gift, misunderstood and maligned by a world plummeting into gross materialism, spiritual degeneration, depravity, pornography and sodomy.

There is a tendency in this “western” post-Christian society to blame the leadership for its problems. Yes, the leadership is quasi-absolutely corrupt, no doubt about that. But we need to realize it is us who are the movers and shakers. We insist we live in these great democracies. What is a democracy? For one thing it’s government of the people, by the people, for the people. Is that true of any of our forms of government? No, of course not, but we insist on believing it is true, we insist on spreading the propaganda. Hence and therefore if there is a problem with government leadership, the problem belongs to all of us. No, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

If our leadership is corrupt it’s because we are just as equally corrupt, one and all. Put the “blame” where it belongs; be done with it; stop pretending and living in denial. We cannot say to ourselves, “There is nothing I can do about it” because there most certainly is! That however is an unpleasant fact. So, let’s just blame. Why not? It’s easy and there’s no personal responsibility involved.

This is the time of year when, by observation, everybody should feel a deep and intense sadness for this world. How can any self-respecting person chase after an emotion as ephemeral and evanescent as happiness? How can any intelligent person think they can buy it? I’ll tell you who does: every slave of the marketplace. The happiness of a slave does not last. It is always replaced by an intense time of loss and grief. Wait for them. If you listen quietly you can hear them goose-stepping down the street at midnight.

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Another Gift of the Magi (part 2)

The anonymous donations kept coming, always enough to meet the rent and the basic needs.

But where was Sylvia?

After she collected the original amount, she quit university and hired herself out as a model and a call girl.  It was the only way she could see to raise money in sufficient amounts, consistently and quickly enough to meet her sister’s obligations.  Her sociable ways, confidence, physical beauty and intelligence soon made her the number one choice companion in the “underworld.” 

She changed her identity and had a false address.  She took the name Folie Delacroix.  She had one rule only: no entertaining in her place.  She rented a run-down basement suite in the old part of town, among the poorer segments of society.  Some she even directed to her sister’s hospice.  Every dollar she made not needed for immediate personal necessities she put in her sister’s “Hope Fund” as they now called it.

Every Christmas, as they had promised each other, Sylvia came to visit her sister.  When pressed about her doings in the world, she remained  evasive,  explaining that getting her degree had been put on hold due to more immediate commitments.  She spoke of trips to Europe as assistant secretary to the CEO of some software company.  She made up stories of exciting times on the Riviera and other places.  She was determined to keep her deepest and, to her, most shameful secret.  

At the end of their yearly visit, they would hold each other and say nothing.  Moments that brought back so many happy times for Sylvia and gave so much hope to Ariana.

The anonymous donor was faithful.  The money was always there, sometimes more than expected.  Then on the tenth anniversary of their vow, as they met for another Christmas, Ariana noticed her sister looked pale and thin.  The luster in her eyes was dulled. 

“Syl, what’s wrong?” 

Sylvia shrugged.

“Don’t do that,”  admonished her sister, “I’m a trained practical nurse and I handle sick people everyday.  I can read the signs.  What’s with you?”

Sylvia began to cry… “I’m sick, Ari.  I’m… I’m dying.  I’m being punished.”

“What are you saying?  What have you done?”

Sylvia sat crying for a long time without saying a word.  Ariana waited, holding her, sensing her fear and confusion.  Finally, Sylvia unburdened herself and told the story of the last ten years.

Ariana was shocked.  She kept staring at her sick sister and finally exploded:

“You foolish, foolish woman.  What have you done?  Why?  You gave away everything you had, everything you were, including your reputation, to give me this hospice?  You sacrificed all that meant anything to you so I could have what I wanted?  You gave away your life for me.  Syl… I never knew until now what love is.  You… you did this — for me, so I could fulfill my dream…

She stopped.  Sylvia continued to sob, their tears mixing as they held and kissed each other. 

Ariana held her sister’s hand in a tight clasp, looking deep into the sad blue eyes.  She said: “Listen to me very, very carefully, Syl.  Few people could do what you have done.  Let me never hear you speak of punishment.  What awaits you, sister, is not terror but joy.  You have demonstrated once again that love given freely, unconditionally, to another –which is the same as saying “to God” is the greatest gift of all – it’s the gift of the Magi.”

“Say no more.  You will remain here.  I will look after you from now on.  No more work,” and in a gentle whisper, “Please say you will stay?”  “Please!” “For me?”

Sylvia protests: “But how will you meet your expenses if the money stops?”

“Remember what you said to me once?  ‘Has God ever failed either of us sister?’  The money won’t stop.  For some time now, the overall donations have exceeded those of the one we called “God’s Agent”.  The Church has, shall we say, adopted this hospice and it will be regularly funded.  You have done your part, now let me do mine and let us do ours.”

Too weak to protest and fully aware that life as “Folie” was over, Sylvia stayed at the Sisters’ hospice.  Despite her sister’s dearest hope and prayers her health did not improve.  But while she could still work, she helped with the chores and her singing voice often echoed in the rooms where she worked. 

 

Christmas, Spare me your Good Wishes

                            [thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

I was born and raised in a very Christian environment.  It wasn’t American, even Canadian, it was European, actually, Breton.  That’s a conquered Celtic province in the northwest of France that was once an independent duchy with its own royalty.  The last royal was a queen, Anne de Bretagne.  Her husband, fearing for his life, deserted her.  Hoping for a male heir, she had several children, all of them girls.  Finally, in order to save her country from being destroyed in bloodshed by the French, she abdicated and let the French take over.  There was no choice, you see.  She then entered a convent, so the story goes.  That was, like 700 years ago. Thought I’d throw that in. It’s my history, in the genes, the DNA, the bones.  Another story of another conquered race by another empire.  How many of us understand this, know this, feel this?

Most of “my” people today don’t remember, don’t want to know don’t care.  Like so many, they just want to live, get the best they can from what’s left of “the empire” or “the corporation” and make it to the end with some sort of value attached: a house, an apartment, a car, a family, some retirement money, anything that says, I mean something, I’m worth something… or… I won’t be living on the street when I reach 70.  Like me.  I sort of own a house.  It’s mortgaged, of course, but I can cover the monthly “rental” from the bank, as long as there is enough money to cover all the other expenses of owning a house, and a vehicle, and… you know what?  It’s all shit.

We are slaves.  Face it, admit it, and stop long enough to really feel your feelings when you realize it: I’m a slave.  I’m not in iron chains, my owners wouldn’t spring for the cost of chains, plus they’d slow me down on the assembly line.  I’m a slave to the ATM, the debit card and the credit card.  I’m a slave because I was stupid enough to believe those who taught me to be a good citizen; to trust, to work hard, to berate myself if I lost a job or failed to secure a new one, or two, or three on permanent part-time minimum wage no benefits basis.

I left the church, of course, long ago.  I couldn’t afford it.  I can’t make ends meet now, why would I worry about eternal life insurance?  Screw that.  If God is that cheap, maybe I don’t want to ever meet him.  At least hell has warmth and when the power is cut off and the gas is turned off in the middle of winter, some time in hell with a drove of old friends doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.  I’m sure we’ll come up with ways to make the best of a tough situation.  Are you kidding?  We’re from earth, we can party in the middle of a bombing raid; fuck while the shooting in the streets rages; hold a sub-machine gun at the ready while burying our youngest child.  We can hold our tears for another, more convenient time; we can let someone else shed them for us while we busy ourselves with our necessary vengeance.

Yes, I know all about heaven and hell, I was suckled on the concepts.  Hell, that terrible place of eternal burning torment designed by God for those who wouldn’t kiss his divine ass.  Heaven, that blissful place of eternal whiteness.  Ice and snow and winds blowing through taut harp strings from which moans of music flows.  Angels in white gowns and white wings frozen stiff as garden statues, standing on frozen white clouds and ghosts, billions of ghosts whom, after spending their life’s savings buying eternal life insurance got into heaven and remain there, bowed in frozen worship before the grimmest gargoyed deity, its grin carved in eternal green-hued ice.

Heaven, where nothing bad ever happens because nothing can ever happen.  Sick.

Being raised in Christian beliefs isn’t my problem.  My problem is that once upon a time I learned to read and I found a Bible and I read it.  I read the horror of it and the promises of it, the lies of it and the truths of it.  In my child’s heart, I only saw the truth, and I wanted that more than anything else.  Christmas and Easter were particularly poignant times, times of hope and times of utter despair.  Christmas didn’t tell me about a god being born to save my soul, it told me about man’s cruelty to man, particularly to the poor.  The ensuing story of a young man helping people and teaching them to love each other as best he knew how was my hope.  But the “church” caught up to the young man before he had a chance and they crucified him just as effectively as it crucified my child’s heart.  They had collusion and help of the government and the banks, as usual, and as now, just as my church had the help of the school and the village to crush my hopes of a just society.  Sick.

I thought, well, they just missed it and all I have to do is remind them that the Jesus they claim to love and follow actually would condemn them all in a heartbeat if he’d showed up in any of their fancy decorated churches with the fancy choirs and music and siren-song sermons purporting to be all about him.  Gag me, yes really.  I did tell them the truth of it, showed them the written words.  They did not repent, just made sure I paid for my effrontery.  Don’t… Ever… Question… the Status Quo.  There were punishments, that goes without saying.  Sick.

From his times on things didn’t get better, they got worse.  I watched it through my own eyes as they roamed the last two thousand years of history to culminate in today’s current events.  That land where the young man walked, taught and did his miracles is a land of oppression and bloodshed, the war crimes and genocide taking place there aided and abetted by those who claim to be that young man’s followers and disciples.  Depraved and sick.

Christmas, the absolute worst time of year.  Christmas, a time of extreme hedonism; of orgiastic pleasures, of blind self-indulgence and pathetic attempts at pretend love and charity with skinflint donations to charitable organizations whose bureaucracy eats up the lion’s share of donated funds to maintain themselves in luxury as tax-free business corporations.  Sick… sick… sick.

I’m glad that I found out some years ago that Earthians are not humans at all, they’ve just been conned into thinking they are.  Pseudo-humans the Teachers call them, with a slight chance of entering the human race in the distant future if they survive their own sickness, their greed, lust, hate, vanity, pride and egotism.  Survival, they said, remains in the very low percentile.  That should lighten my angst.  After all what’s dying and about to die is less worthy of care or concern than flora and fauna.  It’s nothing but a useless and life-sucking predatory species of artificial life.   Knowing the nature of Earthians should make it easier to bear my awareness of their current suffering and eventual demise.  It should, it does not.

What would drive me mad if I hadn’t entered into a different mindset than that of those who once were my peers?  The simple and obvious (to me) fact that being kind, gentle, caring, self-effacing, openly loving, open-handedly generous, self-sacrificing and ever compassionate is the greatest reward any Earthian can give her/himself.  There is no greater return on any kind of investment.  If only… if only they would get it.  If only they would just try it on for size and wait a bit for the amazement to cover them over like a mantle of blissful well-being.

But they won’t.  They will choose to consume themselves in consumerism and die of consuming consumption.  They will gorge themselves, laugh, make “love,” the richest giving each other redundant gifts that will be denigrated because more and better was expected.  Christmas, indeed, in deed.

There will be exceptions.  There always are.  They are necessary drops of oil on the cogs of the machine.  They will do some good, then they will give credit to their gods, their churches and their charitable organizations and whatever good they accomplished will pile up more propaganda (power) for the machine to create a greater circle of injustice.

Christmas: spare me your good wishes, they are a curse to the awakened mind.