Sunday, March 18, 2018
Own the sin
All of life, never mind human existence, is a patchwork fuzz on a single rock twirling through a cosmos of such cold immensity that we can't even conceive of it.
Nor do we really want to. Just the opposite. Each individual tends to puff himself up as much as possible, to the limits of plausibility and beyond. We are living in the Golden Age of Grandiosity, with a rich, famous president who obviously isn't satisfied by what he has attained, preferring—no, compelled—to live in eternal yearning, fantasizing ever greater accolades for himself.
While Donald Trump is an extreme, we all imagine ourselves more splendid than we actually are, or ever could be. I know I do. And I hope I'm not alone. Though I believe I've gotten better in my later years. Less self-absorbed. I think giving up drinking helped. You get in the habit of seeing things clearly, or trying to.
Yet sometimes the two systems, the old grandeur and the new realism, do clash. Such as a couple weeks ago. I popped into Target for some Skull Candy earbuds. I had lost mine—a lapse that once would have bothered me more than it does now. I'm not perfect, I'm allowed to lose stuff.
Trucking through the aisles, I noticed this dog food—the same dog food we haul to Petsmart on Skokie Boulevard to buy for $11.49, here for $8.99.
My heart swelled. Wow, what a bargain! I grabbed the bag thinking, What a coup! This really makes my day!
Then some part of me stood back, aghast, arms folded, shaking his head. Really? Finding cheaper dog food. That's your gold standard of excitement nowadays?
Deflating, I tossed the bag in my giant red plastic cart and pushed it guiltily away. Immediately thinking: okay, what's the point of that? Both being a petty, small change kind of guy, excited to save a couple bucks on a bag of puppy chow and being so pompous that I can't even enjoy the pleasure of doing so? Stuck between two worlds.
Yup, that sounds about right. Own the sin, as the colonial moralists used to say. And to be honest, the reproach faded, and I was left with satisfaction, and a new place to shop for dog food.