Magic Pill

You get up in the morning and jump in the shower. While in the shower, you use the shampoo and conditioner that you have selected after a few years of trying different stuff, and you have found the right combination that will make your hair either lay a little more flat, or poof up a little bit more, or highlight the red, whatever. You use the shaving cream that cuts down on tears and rips, along with the newest multi-bladed razor for the same.

You make your coffee, or you buy it. You have found the coffee that gives you enough lift, and you go back to it every morning. Or you haven’t, and each morning you are trying to find that morning libation that will kick you into gear. You wear your sweater and trousers. Maybe it’s the clothes you really want, the ones you know fit well and make you feel good, maybe you’re lower on your laundry schedule, you’re a little uncomfortable. But your entire wardrobe is filled with things you thought were going to make a small difference, and a lot of those things do.

And then you go to work, you get your lunch, etc. Your lunch is maybe a salad. Maybe it’s a cheeseburger. WIth no bun. You’ve got some kind of idea of the things you are supposed to do when you eat, there is a *style* to your belt and shoes, a *style* to your sandwich and diet coke. There is a life*style*, based on a cavalcade of advertisements and your own back and forth with different products.

Again, no judgement, I’m not lording this from on high. So far, this is purely *human*. If you didn’t do all this, you’d be living in some Buddhist retreat or commune and, let’s be honest, those places would suck for people like you and me. We like the taste of shallots sweated in butter, we need shiny lights and toys, and *of course* we do. Anyone who thinks any different is living outside this awesome cool-ass world we’ve made.

But here’s where it starts sucking. You read “The Rules”. You read “He’s Just Not That Into You”. You watch Dr. Phil and you get control in a brand new way. We get control through self denial, self hatred, self abuse. You squeeze into those uncomfortable shoes, you wear a poncho, you spend an hour on your hair. But really, you talk about the miserable shoes, the humidity that frizzes your hair, the bulky poncho, the many ways that you are denying yourself or living with pain.

Who you are is based on what you eat, who you vote for, what you wear. We have lost our lives and replaced them with life*styles*.

The span of human history is spinning past you right now, but you have the new Fug-Boots. Those snuggly wuggly fug boots. Your people crossed oceans to forge new lives, and you’re all psyched because someone named their baby “Apple” and isn’t that hilarious and dumb. Your great great grandmother had seven children and buried five of them, and you’re pissed that you can’t afford the 40 gig Ipod to replace your 20 gig Ipod.

We hate ourselves for our softness and we turn to self-help books and self-help groups to revel in our self hatred. We swim in the worst of our tendencies. We grab a brownie and, while eating it, we say we are being “bad”. You are eating a thing, and, in an effort to have some sort of moral compass in our ridiculous lives, we say that the eating of it is “bad”.

I’ve often wondered what history will think of this time in America. We had a series of books growing up, history books, who’s spines were marked with titles like “The Age Of Invention” and “The Age Of Reason”. I have feeling this time will be called “The Age Of Theory”, when nothing we do is based in fact, or more, that there are no facts that we all agree on. Our country is painfully bifurcated, our cultures are all hardening, congealing like old pudding. I have a group of friends who say they will not *date* someone based on who they voted for. We are judging one another on the sets of theories we embrace, not on the content of our character.

Because the idea is that the theories are not fluid. Once you embrace something, it’s a sign of moral terpitude to leave it behind. If you need religion for a while, and then you don’t, it’s a sign that there is something weak about you. If you lose weight only to gain it back, then you have no will power. But, how can one group or one theory work for you for your whole life? Don’t you change? How can you read a book at 22 and have it mean the same thing to you at 35? And if it means less, why is that bad?

I have a friend who is a hardcore right winger, he’s really rude to me and he can be painfully one note in his conversations. Why is he my friend? I mean, he loves me. He’s respectful of my mind and my time. He will send me a gift because he is thinking of me and he knows what I like. He has a laugh that rivals almost anything you’ll ever hear, and he laughs and laughs at stuff, at smart stuff and at dumb stuff. He is a joy to be around. He voted for Bush and he honestly thinks the only good Arab is a dead Arab. And that is hard to swallow, hard to be around.

But you know what? If you voted against Bush, but you’re not very funny and you’re late to everything and you generally make the day worse by being there, then I don’t really care what your theories on life are. Fine, you’re a vegetarian and you are helping inner city youth, that doesn’t mean I should have to wait 45 minutes for dinner or, worse, be the one who makes all the jokes while you do all the laughing.

Your life theories don’t change the content of your character, and I don’t care how devout you are in religion or leftist causes or fashion or the cult of personality, if you start by holding the door for someone, forgiving someone else when they don’t, and not celebrating yourself for holding the door, you could save a coupla grand a year in self-help books and In-Style magazines and our country would be a lot better off.

Here’s some knowledge for you.

1) If you’re dating a guy and he doesn’t call as often as you like… that means one of 2.5 billion things. Because there are 2.5 billion guys in the world. I love my wife, but I forget to do stuff. I *married* my wife, but I forget to call her back sometimes. That, however, is *ME*.

2) If you are trying to lose weight, you should first figure out why. If it’s because there’s a little voice in your head that says that nothing you do is good enough, then maybe it isn’t weight that’s the problem. But, again, in America there are 280 million different reasons why people put on weight, and that little voice is not the same problem for everyone.

3) Chances are that your unhappiness is largely due to about twenty different reasons coming at you from all sides. Maybe it is that you are lazy and weak, but there are 280 million different possibilities for your unhappiness and there are no answers.

4) If you are having trouble finding a mate, it’s because of 150 million to the 150 millionth power reasons. You know how you can’t figure out why your best friend is dating that guy? You don’t know why those two people are getting married? It’s because you don’t know, you can’t know, there’s no guide or theory that will help you know. No-one can possibly understand the vagueries of the human heart.

We are living in an art-free culture, a culture that renounces magic and inspiration. Our comedy is ironic, our celebrities are a celebration of the flawed, our art is self-referential and self eating. From Team America to the White Canvas to Urinetown, we *comment* more than we produce, while the “inside joke” and “inside knowledge” take the place of actual life.

And the perpetuation of this theorizing is bad. Our generation is pissing their lives down the sink making art that won’t last past the most recent sets of cultural in-jokes, dating girls based on the height/weight ratio and dating guys based on their voting records. The cultural handcuffs are sitting in front of us and every day we shackle ourselves as if to go out of the house any other way would be tantamount to walking around naked. I am not suggesting that we disrespect the culture we are in, I am suggesting that we shift our concept of “fact” to where it rightly belongs, in “theory”, and we treat other’s theories with the same respect we want afforded us.

Because, I’m fairly sure, this blog will change a lot of people’s minds.