I can see it in my 10-year-old son’s eyes. It’s that zone you get in when you’re completely INSIDE an animated Christmas special. For him, it’s Prep and Landing. He knows it’s all fake and put together on a computer, somewhere in the Disney Death Star, but he still buys in …all in. He’s ten now, and trying to play it a little more cool. But for 22 solid minutes he gets wrapped up in an imaginary world where the characters are cuddly, the colors are bright, the setting is festive and the conflict is fixable. It’s a happy place to be.
My happy place was always Rudolph. I loved that cozy little castle behind Sam the snowman. It looked like a place where you could curl up on a couch, by a big fire, and listen to Santa talk about whatever …then drift off to sleep. Now that I’m older, I realize that world was actually pretty angry and intolerant. The Santa in that world is a cranky, discriminating dictator with an eating disorder …but I digress.
I often miss the world before social media. I think a lot of us do. It’s always ironic to scroll through posts on face book that extol the virtues of life before face book.
Social media helps us cheapen everything. When we discover something of value, our first instinct is often to de-value it online as quickly as possible. I am no exception.
If my son says something cute, I instantly want to share it with the world instead of just savoring it myself and allowing that moment to be JUST for me and him. The new knee-jerk, click-and-share world is changing us.
And of course, we cannot escape politics on social media. In the land of adults, it rules the day. And that is actually sad to me. I became a Libertarian because of a general disdain for government and political intrusion in my life. The fact that we are all still wringing our hands over who the presidential outcome says everything we need to know about the nature of government and how insidious it can become. If ONE person can speak so many things into (or out of) our lives, might that person have a little too much power?
I suppose I’ve just never been much of a collectivist.
I prefer the individual. And I love the idea of individuals contributing to community, voluntarily; inspired, incentivized and motivated over coerced, frightened and mandated. Positive focus over negative force is more life affirming and effective in my view.
Two remnants of my cold-war childhood died this week. Maybe that’s a fitting end to 2016. One forged an iconic identity that transcended its time and forced a nation to live through and witness horrible atrocities, through sheer will, and force of personality …the other one was Fidel Castro. Thanks …I’ll be here all week.
All kidding aside, the juxtaposition of the two icons is telling. Mrs Brady represented a family pursuing its own happiness in a free society. She was finding love a second time and blending her “very lovely girls” with three boys of the same age. They all had different interests and passions and neuroses (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha comes to mind). And as corny as they were, they were symbols of what a free society looked like.
I can only imagine what the children of Cuba thought, watching these Brady people constantly having enough food and shelter and opportunity and freedom to sing bad songs about the changing of one’s voice. Cuba was supposed to be the worker’s paradise, forged by the iron fist of politics and government force. But all those people kept washing up on American shores to get away from that world …and into Mrs Brady’s world. That’s why politics and government should only be used to protect the people from IT …so we can all pursue happiness …instead of mere compliance.
That care-free, child-like place we know to be so completely soul healing is the place we’re drawn to. The sand box of creativity and playfulness is where our hearts beat faster. Music, art, literature, poetry …these are the destinations of renewal for the weary, heart-hardened beast. And that’s where I’d rather spend my time.
There is no politics in Handel’s Messiah. The Hallelujah Chorus is a lush oasis for all of us struggling through the deserts of fear and trepidation. And that’s the kind of place we all need more of.
I have a political point of view. But if you don’t share it, I don’t think you’re a bad person or ruining my life. And I don’t believe you’re stupid or ignorant or unworthy of love. If a political solution of some kind has become your husband or your wife or your parent or your child or your soul-crushing quest, maybe it owns too much of you. Only you can know that.
As for me? I want to live in a world that doesn’t require the right person in office for me to be happy. I want to find more of those places I can get lost in, like my 10-year-old does in a Disney film. More melodies that soar. More stories that inspire. More lyrics that speak. More fiction that unlocks. More poetry …less punching. More beauty …less bureaucracy. More love …less anger. More life …less death.
And so, as we begin the holiday season, I say may God bless you in ways you’ve never imagined. May your life be a little more like Mrs Brady’s and a lot less like Mr Castro’s. I truly hope you find a happy place to get lost in and stay there longer than you think you can afford.
You probably need it more than you know.