On Mother's Day I Sought the Counsel of Ted Kaczynski and Fired His Hermit Ass
Painting title: "The Joy of Man's Anxiety" 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36"
One fine spring day this flawed human being is attacked by a gnatty swarm of media. To remain sane, it cannot be helped. There is no one else to talk to, besides oneself. And only crazy people talk to themselves. Too much time away from the news, a human interest story on the radio, or even a curiosity about a terrorist from the forest and one yearns for the false community media will deliver. We long to be relevant to our clans, but there are no clans left. Nor should we answer to ourselves as individuals for few can survive for long without the other. We are so connected. So social. So vulnerable. So alone. It's any morning, noon or night, and it turns out we have failed miserably at church, synagogue and mosque, bungled a decent paganism, and abdicated to science the rite of spring which gave us coronavirus as a dance partner.
Just another walk on a Hallmark holiday. A bouquet for our mothers at Flowers dotcom. One might think that some ancient wisdom passed down the tradition to humble us to the awesome rebirth and fecundity of spring, and renew the debt we owe to nature through the magic of our mother's nurturing.
Not a chance. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day to celebrate mothers whose sons had died in war. Imperialistic mothers of the ultimate sacrifice! A military parade of mothers. Testosterone Sunday. Beautiful white flowers of the grave!
In a healthy society, I would be free of such meaningless trivia. But it can't be helped. It is the main ingredient of the media glue which repairs hourly a broken civilization. An adhesive secreted by the bites of swarming information gnats. One must be bitten to gain insight into the macrocosmic past. To recall the origins of Mother's Day, one also gets an appreciation for a dead racist president, veterans of foreign and domestic wars, and the penny postcard craze sent by lonesome college boys to their dear mothers back home.
On a May afternoon, a man who loves his mother, yet is separated by a hundred or ten thousand miles, can rest assured that she has received his card and flowers, even during a pandemic.
Capable glue to a strained connection.
It will free up his time to hear the news, or improve his mind with some Internet research, or read a book by an author he never knew. A bright afternoon for a nature walk to gather his thoughts that flow like a random youtube playlist. The media gnats wear his head tight like a helmet, wherever he goes—into the store, into the wild, or into himself, which can be a very uncommon place to venture, but necessary to reveal the most painful truth for any individual, not a practicing mother:
No one needs you.
Not since you stopped being a blacksmith, a mage, a seamstress, a shepherd, a priest, a farmer, a cooper, a Jack or Jill of all trades, a mother of children to raise and to fit in and fill the positions of a saner social dynamic.
I think this is common knowledge we base as quaint, else go mad. I have no relation to men of my village encumbered by their own media swarm. Some go right, some lean left, but all bereft of commonality, which once defined freedom to a clan made of capable people, but brings shame to those of us today who feel unnecessary without a corporate connection. There is no local need that brings us together. Each day a billion separate pots smashed to bits, the mass media invited to rake up the pieces and glue them to set, and the next day smashed to pieces again. Dependent and isolate. All are doomed to living like a single astronaut on Mars.
On this day, at this hour, the media gnats have informed me on subjects like the post-menopausal woman's brain, the depressing origin of Mother's Day, and the first 60 precepts of Ted Kaczynski's surprisingly reasonable manifesto.
Of the latter, you too might flip the switch if everyday your world went dark. Whether it brings needful light, nuclear annihilation, or a piddly little shoebox bomb to explode a single gnat in the gnat multiverse, depends on what depths your "alone feel" descends.
Fortunately, at present, I lean toward busy-ness to counter my aloneness—I read a book, write a post, paint a picture, cook a dinner. I have no desire for revolution, especially among other meaningless, unknown comrades who "have my back".
On this Mother's Day, to honor my mother, wife, daughter, and sister— those ladies unlike me who bring life and new hope to a shattered society, yet like me, are lost to distraction without the presence of 54 brands of dried cereals in the supermarket, I offer a solution to an ever-present meaningless revealed by the persistence of aloneness.
Nurture love and laughter until you are sick of it and die of it.
How and why?
Knowing how abstract and arbitrary our practical value is to society, which is no longer local, but driven by worldwide forces outside of control, we can partially reclaim our ancient personal value through the act of giving love, and whenever possible, easing pain with laughter. While practicing disdain and mistrust of our neighbor, (just point to the house on the street whose inhabitants are needed to order online from Dominoes®), we have reduced the power of people into penny stock commodities on a billionaire's global portfolio.
Ours is no healthy local community of the past.
Still, mothers and fathers continue to breed into the throes of the Anthropocene. Love and nature happen, even during a mass extinction. Our living generations did not start the tragedy game. There have been many rolls of the dice played since the birth of the steam engine. And just because it was our turn to roll, didn't mean we had not already lost. Odds are odds, and a thousand to one ain't gonna turn the tide as it flows over Miami.
Meanwhile the media gnats will bite incessantly to confuse the only responsibility there is left, and that is to nurture our loved ones as best we can, even while withholding a connection to any need outside our closest circles. As pitifully useless and world collapsing dangerous humans have become, we still retain our power to love. We can accept suffering while practicing its antidote. It is the only responsibility we have left among us.
Make love and laughter the pesticide to drop dead these gnats at every turn. Or else they'll destroy us faster than ourselves.