Friday, April 20, 2012

The Monkey Speaks in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Miss American Pie
Ape Talk
“And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and The Holy Ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast.
The day the music died.”
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 was going to be, what DVD you were 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 eighty-five 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 horse that you rode in on…so much molecular landfill.
Perhaps 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 as 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 ghetto gloom. You figure your epitaph will read:”Three ways out: music; sports or dealing drugs and he weren’t no good at none of ‘em. He’d a run away but there weren’t no place to go…”
How about a hundred million people on the earth that feel that life’s pleasures are fleeting and it’s 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 shop girl 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 that just lost her savings in a bad investment. Salt in the wound that God was meant to heal. It’s life that wakes you to a sunny day and then proceeds to mug you 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. “Cryin’ won’t help you; prayer won’t do you no good”.
The theory is that the cause of non-clinical depression is basically the witness 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; a debilitating illness; a sexual abuse; bullying and teasing; hunger for food and nurturing; unrequited love; death of a loved one; something that kills our spirit, even for a brief time. A dashing of our hopes, for a divine intervention or a resulting happy ending, that we bury and cover with a protective layer of personality or futile diversion.
What results (?): a (what can be called abnormal) tendency to become introverted; angry; aggressive, goal oriented, complacent? Self medication, dependency on a higher power, sarcasm, cynicism or a philosophy of existentialism? Insatiable appetites, a mania for exercising, nervousness, anorexia or cruelty towards 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.
Simian sez: only you can stop the madness. Counterproductive things that do you today may be the result of a past inequity; attitudes and prejudices that people exhibit are not present at their birth; tendencies are a result of training with you losing sight of the fact that basically you have nothing but the future in this form and you should be making the most of the short time that you have. 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 ignore your past and put it to bed.
Easier said than done. First you have to fix the things that are broken now and rid yourself of the things that impede your progress; quit unhealthy behavior and influences. Eliminate the negative. Clean house.
Realize that you can depend on nothing and that everything depends upon you. To reprogram yourself start with right speech which will result in right action and be followed by right thoughts; one foot in front of the other.  You’re not here to break even and be lost in the shuffle.
The monkey speaks.

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