January 7, 2013: Monday morning, and the remaining bounty of Christmas decorations demonstrates the continuing—dare I say growing—need for spiritual fulfillment in America (or at least my little corner of it). Yes, it turns out I’m not alone in the satisfaction I garner by way of the holiday season, and despite my heathen leanings, there are few joys in my world like the magic I project upon December.
No, I’m not alone, except I suspect many people don’t acknowledge their hunger. In fact, we as a nation—a world, perhaps, but I wouldn’t know—are starved for spiritual connections and fulfillment. But we’re too embarrassed to know what to do. Yes, I said embarrassed, because in my definitions of spirituality, it’s our own cloying discomfort with ourselves—everything from our outside appearance to the personal stench of our inner assholes—that keeps us from letting our guard down enough to allow spiritual satisfactions in.
Why so serious indeed? Simple. It’s just fear—fear of … well, everything! Fear originally cultivated in our respective demented families of origin, but blindly perpetuated by a demented society, drives us, controls us, and—to this point—prevents us from allowing ourselves to experience the pleasure of a free spirit.
You must understand—in fact, I insist, if you’re going to read my Blah-ugh!—you understand that spirituality is not synonymous with religion or religious practices—though these can offer a means to the valuable end—but more importantly describes—identifies, in fact—who we really, authentically are, despite what our thinking muscle keeps insisting. If you’re able to set your thoughts aside for a moment—a delightfully simple yet simultaneously hard motion—and allow yourself to fully wake up into the moment of this very moment—you may just understand in that instant that all that you are right now—that whole awareness and consciousness—is everything about spirit, and that spiritual relates to all those things that aren’t centered with your physical body or your calculating mind.
That said, getting in touch with your authentic self thus demands—at some point—that you honor that self by letting it be itself. (My god, even the grammar checker on this stupid computer couldn’t digest the heady tone of that line!) The problem is that, so often … too often … we’re constantly bombarded with societal messages that prevent us from risking being ourselves, mainly because we live in fear of what other people may think, or that exposure of being ourselves will somehow prevent us from getting something we think we need.
But let’s shift back to more Blah-ugh!-related inquiries and ideals, and so move the question of What of the Jews? While the Clausians continue an impotent attempt to prolong vague spiritual stirrings through light bulbs, the Hanukkoids are hunkered down in customary defense, waiting for the next uprising. Some smart Jews—like myself—make a big show of endorsing Christmas in order to thwart suspicion and keep the Nazis off the trail. It’s pretty sneaky, I know, but what do you expect from a Jew? The sneakiness is in our blood. (Boy, this computer doesn’t like anything I’m doing today!)
But all kidding aside—and I want the B’Nai Briss to know I’m kidding—we’re never going to come close to achieving that much-desired spiritual fulfillment as a society until we lighten up and start running around naked, even in the cold weather. The upside of tragic events like Newtown is that they provide people an excuse to fall apart. That’s why so many people tend to wallow in these kinds of events, if you will, because it affords an opportunity to be naked without fear of reprisal, because for that window everybody’s naked and they won’t be singled out. People hate to be singled out, even me; it’s just that some of us, through necessity, grow used to it.
I propose that starting this year people begin an informal competition of displaying the most outrageous lawn decorations they can imagine—no holds barred. I think this will be a good spiritual practice for a culture desperate to have the stick yanked out of its ass, but too self-conscious to even acknowledge that it’s there.