I am a very mellow, spiritual
person. I meditate, drink herbal tea, and never speak louder than
a whisper. I am therefore frankly puzzled by people who foam at
the mouth and spit nickels if they have to wait more than 30 seconds
for a traffic light to change. People have even shot each other
over parking spaces and little league games. This is very disturbing.
Let us now pray for those people,
from a safe distance of course, because they will kill us if they
know we are praying for them. "Oh Lord, please help these
overwrought individuals, as they are in deep denial of reality.
Thanking you in advance, etcetera, etcetera, amen."
The reality is, of course, that
all of us are hurtling blindly through space on a hairball that
was coughed up by the sun twenty kazillion years ago, inhabiting
a universe that pays very little attention to us, even on major
holidays and anniversaries. Insects, the weather, exploding stars,
we can't control any of it. If the President declared war on bugs
tomorrow, the bugs would have nothing to fear but fear itself.
When I was in grade school, Sister
Saint Ephram ("Ephie," we called her behind her back,)
taught us that animals lacked free will, while people were free
to do whatever they want. After sixty years of unscientific research,
as far as I can tell, when people are "free to do whatever
they want", they generally copy each other. No one steps
outside of the well-worn base paths, lest they be called "out,"
and apparently no one wants to be called out.
Every day I receive urgent emails
declaring the existence of government plots, alien encounters,
astrological omens, and impending natural and sociological disasters.
I'm never sure what I'm supposed to do about them. These pronouncements
seldom come with instructions.
Some folks - strong-willed, quick-thinking
types - have armed themselves, built bunkers, and stored up lots
of powdered soup, thus assuming control by anticipating every
possible contingency and making all of the necessary preparations
Unfortunately, I'm not handy
with tools, and I can't see myself shooting anyone for trying
to get at my soup. I can't even imagine wanting to survive a cataclysm.
Rebuilding society from scratch would be a chore, and frankly,
I fare much better in the later stages of civilization.
So if I see Armageddon comin'
round the mountain, I'll probably just pay my tab and check out
with the rest of the normal folks. Sometimes, you just gotta go
with the flow. I think even Ephie could agree with that.
In the words of Master Po from
the 1970's TV series "Kung Fu", "Control is an
illusion, Grasshopper. Any attempt to wrestle steering wheel from
hands of Higher Power only result in man holding steering wheel
that no longer connected to car. Man then plunge off cliff - big
explosion. Man can never be happy driving world, but can enjoy
trip quite well riding shotgun. That will be twenty dollars, please."
Or, as Swami Tommy, my personal
guru, once said to me at the Olive Garden, "Don't obsess
over a fly in your soup, because that is exactly when your sun
will explode. That will be fifty dollars, please."