Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Answer, My Friend


We just had a big wind. It was something that got ginned up in the South Pacific and then spun through the Aleutian Islands, and then Alaska flang it back down to us, and it was something. The house groaned and the wind roared like they were in a sumo match, outcome unknown. I tend to enjoy these events, up to a point. It's exhilarating, until you realize that those are all your next breaths out there, and they might be whipping by too fast to catch them.

They say that those sustained strong winds will drive a person crazy. Technically, this is not true. What really happens is that all the non-crazy people are inside behind thermal windows with a toddy, and that makes the crazy people easier to spot. But it is true that there is something deeply exciting and spooky about wind. Because you can't see it. All you can see is garbage cans flying past your house and trees bending over and hats shooting off people's heads like popped corks, and any one of those sights would freak you out if you weren't already familiar with the concept of wind. It's like an invisible hand is pushing everything around.

Religions have been founded on less. I mean, look: here we all are, inexplicably, and there's all this stuff, and it's moving around, and we're being blown about in ways we can't understand, and most of us just feel better if we have someone to pin it on. Preferably, someone that is a lot like us in familiar ways, only much, much bigger. I'm as fascinated by what I see around me as anyone else, but I personally get no juice out of that particular notion. It's an unsatisfying explanation. It just passes the buck.

Of the many traditions that postulate the existence of the way, way larger Beings pushing everything around, I'm most comfortable with the ancient Greeks'.  They at least observed that all kinds of shitty stuff happens to people who don't necessarily deserve it. So they figured the gods were just having themselves a fine time amongst themselves, and if someone gets his liver pecked out or gets swan feathers in her hoo-hoo, that wasn't really any concern of theirs. We're game pieces; we're collateral damage. In contrast, people who plant their flags on the idea of one single really, really large Being--one who is presumed to be affectionate and have our best interests at heart--those people get themselves all pretzeled up over their own misfortunes. We take everything so personally.

One of the times we had a huge windstorm, a 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree came down on the deck of our cabin. Then another came down precisely on top of the first. Then another. We had three gigantic trees stacked up right alongside the house and they only nicked a little flashing off the roof. This is the sort of thing people like to think of as a miracle. We weren't home at the time, but we take things so personally that even the preservation of our real estate holdings gets to count as miraculous. I call it dumb luck. Even if there were a really, really large Being in charge of aiming a falling tree, who's to say the effort was on our behalf? It could have been the grand comeuppance of a naughty chipmunk who was overdue for a smiting. It all depends on your viewpoint, and it pays to have more than one.

Now, if the wind ever blows the Cubbies into a World Series championship, that would be a miracle.

38 comments:

  1. Tch! The explanation for your Douglas firs is an easy one: Obviously the gods were playing a game of dominoes. The only question is, was the god penalized for nicking your cabin or for not demolishing it in the game. It's theological questions like this that keep me up at night.

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    1. I only wish that was what was keeping me up at night!

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  2. So often you give me something to think about, and this is no exception. The picture of Leda and the Swan is mildly disturbing, and I'm wondering what the heck does it have to do with wind anyway? :-)

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    1. Nothing. It has to do with gods. That's Zeus, there, in a swan outfit. God's gonna do what a god's gonna do. Or who...

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    2. There is something awry with Leda's anatomy there, and I mean besides the swan feathers in the hoo-hoo. Exactly how many vertebrae did those ancient Greeks have, anyway?

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    3. She does seem to go on and on, doesn't she?

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  3. Well, I wish I had known you back when you were younger and we could have hung out together and I would have laughed all my way through high school. I really do love this perspective on life. Now that I realize no one is in charge and no one has all the control I can go forward with a shrug.

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    1. I do a lot of shrugging in lieu of answers. It's good enough for me.

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  4. One of the most illogical situations that I see is when people give credit to a higher being for their wins/good fortune, and if they don't win/have good fortune, they say it was the will of the higher being. Wha ..?

    Yes, I understand that's not what you did. It just reminded me of my peeve!

    Great articulation of a point of view which I share with you.

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    1. Perspective is a big theme with me, and one of the things I tend to shrink away from is this notion that everything is all about us. When just about nothing is about us. This business of having consciousness certainly makes us think highly of ourselves.

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  5. Replies
    1. My life philosophy in a nutshell.

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    2. Why doesn't it surprise me that your life philosophy involves shit?

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  6. I've read around in the Bible and nowhere can I find the passage that says "God smitteth a naughty chipmunk."

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    1. Isaiah 66:17: "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord." I think it's a chipmunk in the New Revised Standard.

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  7. When I was much younger I was personally insulted by the cold November winds...it felt as though god was deliberately blowing in my face. Eventually I realized that was about the only time I thought about a personal god any more.

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    1. It doesn't pay to feel insulted by God. Doesn't get you anywhere, right?

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  8. Wind makes me antsy. Years back on a particularly windy day one of our cats ran up a tree - and bit it. I knew how he felt.
    Shrugging my shoulders at all those unanswered/unanswerable questions is good exercise. And some days I get a lot of it.

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    1. Can you imagine how the tree felt? Already being whipped this way and that, and then someone scampers up your legs and bites you. Nervy.

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  9. We call them the gales of November. Or is it Mariah? Sometimes just the f***ing wind. Maybe Thor and Sif are having a roll in the clouds and causing all the ruckus.

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  10. I always wonder if someone on the news who gives the credit to God's looking out for them and NOT allowing that tornado to kill them all, will also publicly say that the SAME God did not like the neighbors he allowed to die. Hasn't happened yet.

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    1. I always liked that Onion headline: GOD ANSWERS DYING BOY'S PRAYER. "No," God says.

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  11. Trees falling? God? Is this Pauline Christianity? Which one had a big blue ox named Babe?

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    1. You got it--St. Paul Bunyan, patron saint of sore feet.

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    2. St. Paul Bunyan! The new patron Saint of Minnesota! WooHoo!

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  12. Three giant pines stacked like dishes? That's pretty amazing. Home delivery, by God. Or any one of the other Gods and Goddesses up there.
    Did you saw them up for firewood? The trees, not the Gods.

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    1. We must have. It's a forest service lease cabin and they don't allow you to just do any old thing, but I think they do allow you to clear off lumber that's sitting on your house.

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  13. Love mimimanderly's explanation!

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    1. I think it's every bit as believable as anything else I've heard.

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  14. I bet there are people out there who will use a windy day as a excuse to go out and tip trash cans of certain people and blame it on the wind.

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    1. I'm starting to think you have a dark side, Rose.

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  15. People don't like high winds: they make you feel small and insignificant.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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