I was reading “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Steingart, lent to me by my buddy Jeff. It’s about a new york Jew whose family originated from Moscow. His notoriety comes from writing the book Absurdistan. The story takes place in a not so distant future America, where the economy has crumbled so much that China has pretty much become the super power and every American dollar was pegged to the Yuan. Also people are nothing more than credit ratings and shop ops for the biggest brother of them all, the Wappachung Contingency a huge military government that has no qualms with killing its own people if they are not worth much money.
The book is actually a love story between a Moscow born jew named Lenny and his Korean girlfriend Eunice. They meet in Italy and then she comes to live with him. One of the secondary Characters in the story is an interesting guy named Joshie. Joshie is the head of a new type of company, a company that through the process of something called “dechronification” keeps people young and healthy for a much longer period of time, so they are cheating death essentially. Although the company had already started to become huge and were having many clients, Joshie was really the only one who was at an older age and reaping the benefits of this new technology. He was essentially trying to achieve immortality through this process. Now although this is a fiction novel the one thing that struck me was the incessant wanting to remain immortal or young forever was and still is one of the biggest drivers in our society.
People have a real fear of aging. They see it as something that can be avoided or at least hidden. I was at the yoga studio yesterday where I often volunteer and I heard that one of the older gentlemen (aged 82) had passed away . He was a regular at the yoga studio for such a long time and according to one of the teachers there, he never missed his Wednesday class for almost 30 years. His name is on that log every single Wednesday. That is commitment! He lived to be 82 and even then he could still do a posture called the “scorpion” which is essentially a head stand with feet over your head. I admired his commitment and his dedication NOT to staying young but to grow older gracefully.
There is something so cheap about people who try to remain artificially young. Another lady who teaches at the studio is also in her early 80′s and so fit and nimble she has this unavoidable beaming light in her tired eyes, like as if her eyes were smiling. It made me think that I could also look forward to this image of aging gracefully, with a full understanding of my body’s limitations and of the mind that lets go of regret, that lets go of the attachment to the nimble days of youth and that can learn to accept and even better, welcome the more difficult physical realities of aging. However though one thing is replaced, another comes forward. With aging comes wisdom, and I for one have in the past few years embraced the values of wisdom. Look at someone like Leonard Cohen or Thich Nhat Hanh.
Our society today, one based on fast paced living, on disposable memory and no lessons to be learned. Where consumption and chasing a dream are all that mater, where money, profit and sense satisfaction are the only things that matter and they matter at any and all costs, the environment, social programs, human and animal health. All good things in life fall by the wayside so money can be made. I think most of the worlds societies have lost all sense or concept of what true wisdom is. True wisdom is opening up to what deep inside you already know. It is no acquired , it has always been there. Only think is that at some point (I think it was recently like in the last 10 years) we somehow closed the door completely to it and as a collective consumptive society we said, “lets triple our efforts to divert ourselves and satiate all our needs at any costs, “
Essentially I get the feeling that we have forever denied our collective wisdom. We stopped aging as a society. We’ve decided to remain children , spoiled, crying and needy, always wanting to be comfortable, to have things just as we want them and crying when we do not get them. In the face of an adversity that DEMANDS our full undivided responsible attention, we completely close our eyes, our hearts and only think of me me me me my needs, my life, my family, my job my things. All things which are so transient, here today gone tomorrow. Can you remember exacly what you wanted, what your needs were, what you desired specifically on this day last year? Can you even remember this day last year? (birthdays don’t count!! ;) . This memory loss is the true madness of humanity, why we repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.
This collective unspoken decision on our part is this desire to remain forever young. That is to be playing the role of the demanders, the needy, instead of the provider, the wise and the keepers of this planet.
But like all children sometimes they need hard lessons in order to learn something. After reading about Joe Oliver, our minister of Natural resources calling all environmentalists radicals and calling for a complete reform of environmental protection laws that would enable for the easier rape and pillage of natural resources. I felt ashamed at out collective wisdom and how we ever could allow a a cancer like Joe Oliver to be in such a powerful position. I felt ashamed that I looked around and all I see, are grown up children, that only worry about jobs, money, the dreaded economy that just needs to grow and grow and grow and gobble up everything in its path. Egoic sense of self is what drives this. I felt ashamed at how animals, even common cats and dogs seem to have more common sense than we do.
While Tour managing for the Shakespeare in the Park series, one of the park wardens at night accidentally, killed a racoon by running it over. I went up to this dead raccoons body and saw it lying there, cute as a button, with a splotch of blood its body. The park warden himself refused to clean it up, saying “it’s not part of my job”. He refused to take responsibility for the very death he caused. I was sick to my stomach. Mostly because of how easily he absolved himself of the responsibility of the death he caused. There was no remorse. He just srugged it off and walked away from this beautiful creature which has as much a right to life as he did. and he works in a cemetary!! All this only because it was an animal! I foresaw how it wouldn’t be long until we have the same attitude towards each other actually this time is already here! look at Syria, Iran look at the Congo, it is already happening.
There is an native proverb that goes “When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money.” I think this really exemplifies the crash course we are headed in as a species. Have you ever heard of what happened to the Rapanui, the people who lived on easter Island in the pacidfic, an island completely isolated from the world? Well now it seems we are doing this on a grand scale. Planet Earth Island scale.
I’m not trying to bring people down here when I write this all I want to say is that at that moment when I watched that dead racoon’s body I though to myself, “this is no longer the animals planet, this is now only the human’s planet”. If we keep going in this direction, we are first going to finnish off the animals, then ourselves unless we learn that it is not about holding onto all the things we have or wishing for all the things we do not havem but but rather “letting go ” of those things which clinging causes more pain not only to the world but to ourselves.
Whatever happens, never assume it is someone else’s problem. It will always be yours and only yours. Here’s to some beautiful much needed wisdom.