Thursday, October 24, 2013

Court Jester?

I dusted off this old post where I was complaining about some other personal karmic slight, real or imagined, to complain today about an alarming paucity of book sales. It seems I just cannot decide to be happy about being poor. I can, however, be funny about it. Well, kind of.


When I was 21 or 22 I told my mother, who was busy at the time chiding me for what, according to her, were serious lapses in my attention to my future, that I had as yet no regrets—that everything I had done or failed to do to that point only added to the sum total of me, which sum, in my opinion, seemed to be tallying up just fine. It turns out though, 40 some years later, that I had many regrets at the time. I just didn't know it.
Now that I'm shipwrecked and washed up on the shores of an uncertain dotage, ill-provisioned and without prospects, all those early and unseen regrets are coming due like markers to a loan-shark. Now, I understood perfectly at the time all the places where I went wrong. I knew where I didn't apply myself as I ought, when I skated or took the path of least resistance or effort, where I caved in to idle self-indulgence, and where I wasted monumental effort on things that were bound never to pay dividends. I knew what I was doing when I did it...or wasn't when I didn't, and I understood the consequences.
Those things don't bother me so much. I made trade-offs that I valued one way at the time. That I have changed the valuation over time may make my decisions lamentable, but it does not make the consequences unfair. I got what I asked for...up to a point.
My problem is that now I think I'm well past that point. I'm past Karma, past just deserts, past what I bargained for, and well into the uncharted realm of cosmic retribution. Things are way worse than they ought to be, given what I did or failed to do in the past. I can say without irony, 'I don't know what I did to deserve this.'
Maybe it's that I made disparaging comments about the so-called law of attraction. Maybe it's that I sprinkle my prayers with profanity and vulgarisms. Maybe it's that I think Kim Kardashian, who seems to have replaced Paris Hilton on the altar of American celebrity worship, is a waste of otherwise useable oxygen. Maybe it's because I believe that professional wrestling is more entertaining and realistic than any episode in any city of the Real Housewives—ever. Maybe it's all these together. Maybe it's something else entirely. I don't know.
'Keying Up'
a court jester fortifies his wit
William Merritt Chase - 1875
Whatever is going on puts me in mind of the Book of Job. I must confess I don't get the Book of Job, but neither can I deny that it is a fascinating study in the fundamental unfairness of things. Job is a victim. He doesn't start out that way. Initially at least, he has the world by the tail. His God, however, who is also my God by the way, is a capricious bully who hangs his loyal servant up for sport and wagers with Satan that the poor slob won't eventually curse his Maker for his current sorry condition. What kind of bullshit is that? Even when Job passes the test, and God restores his former status and fortune, Job never really finds out what it was all about. It doesn't matter to him. God is God, he says in effect, and God can do whatever God pleases without having to answer to mere mortals.
I have to tell you that this is a completely unsatisfactory ending for me. I'd like it better if Job learned something useful from the exchange, even if he only learned that occasionally God will screw you up for for His own amusement.
Believe it or not, this would make more sense to me than what I have now in terms of either prospects or understanding. I mean if an angel were to appear to me as if in a dream, and say, in effect, the court of heaven needs a jester and that God would like it to be me, I would accept the position and even feel a little honored. Doing pratfalls in the Divine Comedy would be way more gratifying than whatever it is I'm doing now, which seems to count for nothing. Maybe I am the court jester. Maybe I'm providing entertainment for a fickle universe with a mean streak. Problem is, just like with Job, no one asked and, so far at least, no one's bothered to explain. Is it too much to ask that my fate ought to be salted with a little justice?

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Comments are always welcome. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Information, encouragement, criticism--I don't care. A day where I don't learn something new is a day lost to me.