According to tradition, at least that of our Western culture, the genesis of each new calendar year is time for a NEW beginning, an opportunity to restart of one’s life, and/or a chance for a do-over. This custom is based upon our prevailing human condition, which features convoluted logic derived from tribal knowledge, ignorance, and superstition. We know in our secret heart-of-hearts such a way of thinking makes no sense logically and scientifically, but it’s a harmless trick we play on ourselves for psychological reasons—with the best of intentions! No harm, no foul, right? I annually witness evidence of this temporary form of insanity in overcrowded gyms the first day after January 1, a condition that continues for maybe two-three weeks. After that we self-described regulars have the weights, treadmills, and lap pools to ourselves again. So much for so-called new beginnings. |
Still, this harmless bit of consensus-driven hallucinating is all well and good if one is into making resolutions and all that. Two weeks of attempting to improve one’s lot is better than doing nothing (I suppose), and maybe for a select few souls a new good habit actually sticks. If so, hot damn! Personally, I take a different tack. I look back through the past year to see if I’ve either improved or made things worse. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell. See, the self-examination process requires intellectual honesty with oneself, which is always revealing and often painful. But what is it they say in the gym? Oh yeah: no pain, no gain.
As a naive young man I was into the psychological processes of either projection (meaning my shortcomings were the fault of someone else or the particular environment into which I was thrust) or denial (meaning I never did anything wrong); but in time became more truthful with myself. Rats! Mind you I didn’t do it on purpose; it just evolved that way. Self-examination is confrontation of raw truth; and is rather humbling, that is to say, it causes altercation with the person one thinks he is and the person he really is. I’ve spent most of my life running from that uncomfortable conflict, but with “the end” fast approaching (for some ungodly reason) I no longer give myself the luxury of ignoring or hiding from the truth. Double rats!
With that in mind, I am forced to acknowledge that I have not (entirely) been the splendid son, husband, father, brother, and friend I thought myself to be. I have at times been a total fraud! See it turns out that this New Year ritual of clarity and true self-examination doesn’t contain itself within the past twelve months. My memory involuntarily forces me to acknowledge my appalling behavior and shortcomings of decades ago—incidents I thought I had confronted and buried (so to speak). In those unwanted and undesired moments of lucidity I recall times of selfishness and total disregard for those who love me unconditionally. I truly regret those actions, deeds, and words. I really do. You see (for me) those iniquities still hang in the ether like a fragrant fart and can never be taken back. There is no do-over. Even if forgotten and/or forgiven when my mind trips back to another time and place the bad deeds are still there to haunt me. They will always be there; that is, until such time as my memory no longer exists.
I also see shadows of images (both pleasant and unpleasant) that once were. For instance, I see my parents returning from playing golf; a scene of thirty years ago…I see exactly what they were wearing, I smell the grass and hear the rattle of their clubs being removed from their car… Then I see them both in their twenties taking me on an outing, and at their final inanimate rest; the colors surrounding them and the smell of flowers vivid… How long before I forget the sound of their voices? In another scene I see myself swearing at my young son for forgetting the location of a ball game; and yelling at my daughter for not hustling in a soccer match… I said things that still echo through the universe, words that can never be recalled—and feel thoroughly ashamed and small… A petulant brat and arrogant bully all at the same time…
I suppose this guilt stuff is supposed to help me with my individual quest for continuous improvement, and I am happy to report it seems to be working. BUT is that because I’ve acknowledged valuable “lessons learned” (albeit the hard way; i.e., by screwing up) or mellowed-out due to lost testosterone as I’ve aged? Has change resulted from maturity and a repentant heart or from chemistry???
And so as 2013 dawns I stand (stripped of all pretense) on an abyss and stare into a bottomless, large and violent maelstrom containing my sins committed (so far) in this lifetime. Hopefully I didn’t add as many in 2012 as in previous years.
Wait a minute! All is not lost! When I spent time in the Middle East (mainly Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and UAE) I studied Islam. Because of that I may have an escape clause. See the deal is this: they speak of two spirits that sit on your shoulders keeping track of good and bad deeds sort of like the two little guys cartoonists used to feature—one with a halo and they other with horns. Remember those? And frankly folks, some of the bad deeds I think up are real doozies. Anyway, here’s the deal: The rule is that if one thinks up a bad deed and doesn’t follow through he gets credit for a good deed! Yethir! With that in mind, dear readers, I plan to short-sheet every one of your beds and upper-deck your toilet tanks. That should get me off to a good start for a Happy New Year.
Your working boy, Gene Myers aka Abu Jaafar aka Zorro aka Pocketpool Pete aka Jack Shit aka the Phony Phantom…
Copyright by Gene Myers, author of AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY – a hilarious account of the author’s overseas travels; and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD - a mildly sinister, but amusing work of fiction. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and available in Amazon Kindle and Nook formats.
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