The Dharma Bum

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you.

This is the principle difference between a dog and a man." - Mark Twain

There you are my little miscreants and malcontents - cumbersome and lethargic after consuming your body weight in turkey and/or full that even blinking is too much of an effort as you sit around with the rest of the herd on this fine Thanksgiving Thursday, either half-listening to some crazy person (who is supposed to be related to you but looks more closely related to Yoda or some other George Lucas-creation) tell you stories about kids you'll never meet in places you probably don't ever want to go to - or you've managed to army-crawl your way from the dinner table to whatever seating device is closest to the idiot box, so you can foggily gaze (in a way that would make even Pavlov's dog wonder what the hell is wrong with you) at whatever mindless dribble is currently animating the TV screen which - considering you've gorged yourself to the point where breathing is an intense cardio-workout - will be considered your exercise for the week, along with return trips to the kitchen for a never-ending variety of turkey-based creations that will haunt you until that damn bird is gone...which should be just in time to begin feasting for Christmas. You just can't help but love the holidays, isn't that right Gobbles?

You see boys and girls, while I was gearing up to write this little diatribe it dawned on me that "technically," it will be the last one I write for this year. And while I know that breaks all three of your hearts out there, quite frankly it amazes the hell out of me that the next column I write will mark my three-year anniversary as the dharma bum. So for that, I am thankful because I truly thought that my prospective editor would read my first submission and tell me to: stop using so many big words, and to check what country I was living in because "realise" and "honour" would look slightly out-of-place in the Heartland. So I'm thankful for the fact that OFF! Hasn't fired my pedantic-Irish arse.

I've also been doing a lot of nocturnal contemplation lately and have arrived at the following list of people/places/things that I have taken for granted for far too long, leaving me with no alternative but to sacrifice myself upon the altar of dignity and humility, and pay homage to them as best I can. I'm thankful for: the fact that even though I don't deserve her, she's still in love with me; my mother and my father, whom I owe more to than a thousand lifetimes would give me the time to tell; Elizabeth and Miss Mandy May for showing me that blood may be thicker than water, but still doesn't hold a candle to love; to Jason, Zac, Paul, Kay, and Serpico for always giving me a home away from home away from home, with a family that loves me just as much as I cherish them; to kindred spirits like Jay Cobb, Emelie, and that nice neurotic Jewish boy who used to work here, for showing me just how brilliant my friends can be; to the Monkey for liking me better; to Salinger and the catharsis of words; for the fact that I have all of my fingers and toes and a few brain cells left; for 297 days of sobriety; for the Mom-wagon, whose last leg fell of long ago and is unfortunately down to its last nub (I have the Keith Richards of mini-vans); for the roof over my head and the food on my table; for the fact that - despite being a debt-ridden, purple-headed, mildly pierced, extremely tattooed, 26 year-old kid who works in a comic shop, plays rock and roll, and gets paid to write down silly things - I have a real "grown-up" job," a woman I love more than anything, and friends and family that are just as vital, that in the grand scheme of things...I think I'm doing alright for myself.

That's a very non-linear and abridged version of the thank-you list of my life but I only have so much time before I myself must take a seat at my own dinner table. So as the sun sets slowly in the west, I bid you a fond farewell but I leave you with the brilliant words of a bloke who may just be more sarcastic than I am. Read them carefully boys and girls, for I dedicate them with the deepest sincerity to all the monkeys on the third rock. There won't be a quiz later, but you might want to study them anyway. You never know when they might come in handy. G'night kids.

"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind." - George Carlin

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