Dear Mole: Kickin’ It

charlie-brown-sigh-long-day

You’re too kind, Sir, but your enthusiastic promotion of my little attempt at writing a soap opera is very much appreciated.

And you are correct: Fifty is officially in the can. I don’t do sales, especially when the commodity is me. Aside from the sock puppet performance, anything more than that is officially out of my hands. Perhaps a certain current Riverdale cast member will set some wheels in motion since that show, like most shows, is presently on COVID-hiatus. And I happen to know that she happens to know the real man behind the Deadpool mask, so who knows?

Moving on. My brain has been pleasantly quiet of late. That means it hasn’t bothered itself with concerns about a next project…or a next anything, really. It’s a relaxing place to be. But if I were unprepared to play along with that theme, I probably wouldn’t have started writing this reply. To that end, here’s a little visual aid:

Curmudgeon’s Lifetime Bucket List

X          Write a soap opera

X          Write a memoir

X          Watch Breaking Bad from start to finish

X          Quit drinking

X          Quit dating

X          Get a dog

X          Move to New Mexico

__         Eat a bug

Woah! I didn’t realize I was already this far along. Gotta run — off to search for a tasty-looking bug.

 

Dear Mole: No Expectations

mcguirk

Since you saw fit to draw me back into the loop of pointlessly pointed pontification, I am going to employ a more fitting approach in the composition of my reply.  This new approach involves even less effort than what was required for any of my past correspondence, as I didn’t even write a draft or formulate any ideas for this one, I just accessed your site and started typing.

I wonder what I’ll say?

There was a recent pseudo-scientific article on CNN advising people to accept their mediocrity in order to eliminate the shame and stress of striving for impossible goals.  This, of course, caught my attention right away but unfortunately, the amateur psychologist that authored it lost his nerve right at the end and added the seemingly obligatory disclaimer “…of course, one must strive to be the best they can be” and that’s when I realized that despite the compelling headline, this guy somehow missed his own point.

If it can be said that I have a goal or purpose in life, it is to master effortless mediocrity.  It isn’t a lack of self-confidence that keeps my sights low, but an actual desire to expend as little effort as possible in the maintenance of a nearly responsibility-free lifestyle.  Do you know what happens to great people when they die?  History’s great masters and geniuses?  The brilliant innovators and movers of society and culture?  They become compost, just like us.  That being said, what the hell is the point of all that expenditure of precious energy?

The slow moving creatures of the world are truly the elite on the Tree of Life.  When you remove human arrogance from the equation (which would, of course, result in a mountain of bullshit colossal enough to Fill Houston), the only measure of an organism’s “success” is its adeptness at survival.  This is why the noble sloth has an average lifespan of three decades compared to the exuberant and enthusiastic dog, which has an average lifespan of one decade.  But the mighty tortoise reigns supreme, slogging along at its sub-leisurely pace for over a century.  See a pattern here?

Regardless, humanity at large has been so conditioned in the opposite direction that my championing of the average is usually met by one of two responses: patronizing amusement or straight up anger.  The latter response is the result of someone so indoctrinated by the Cult of Effort that he or she is incapable of relaxing their standards in the naive hope of achieving “greatness”.  Thus oriented, a willful slacker like myself represents to them the most offensive and threatening kind of person alive.

Writing is something I do if/when it’s fun.  I am never going to be famous, renowned or even published and that’s not just okay with me, it’s exactly the way I like it.  I don’t create outlines or multiple drafts or any of that stuff that was invented to take all the fun out of the written word.  The reason I continue to write is no different than the reason I continue to watch three hour blocks of cartoons on Adult Swim every night while taking copious bong hits.  Sometimes it’s fun, often it’s relaxing, but what it never is is important.  As soon as something becomes important, I avoid it like the plague.

I greatly enjoyed your take on our current case of The Plague, incidentally.  Stocks plummeting is a beautiful thing.  I almost want to say that it’s an important thing, but then I’d have to go back and edit some things I already said and frankly, that doesn’t sound like any fucking fun at all.

Plague,

‘Mudge

 

Dear Mole, Stupid Questions

receipt

Perhaps pondering unanswerable questions is our version of playing Angry Birds.  It’s certainly no farther up the scale of practicality or importance.

It also serves to alleviate the tedium of the daily grind, though I’m not sure why.

Whether or not those “other beings of the Cosmos” exist to question their own existences might be a moot point and quantum physics, as usual, is the culprit in rendering the query meaningless.  Since over a century’s worth of research and experimentation has shown time and time again that the result of an experiment must take the experimenter and his or her laboratory equipment into account – literally inextricable from the equation – is “why are we here?” even a viable question anymore?

This bizarre and counter-intuitive theory leads me to only one conclusion: we are all mortal gods.  Animals, too.  Any living thing, in fact, that can be said to be “experiencing” is among the pantheon of temporary gods.  We created “all this” with our own perception of it – if there is no one to perceive it, can it be said to exist?  This then leads to an even stranger question: did anything exist before the first being had its first moment of sentience?  All of that background radiation leading astrophysicists to posit the 14 billion year old event called The Big Bang – what if this 14 billion year old shit is actually only as old as the first person who thought about it?

We cannot conceive of nothingness, though it’s the (non) state in which we were(n’t) prior to being born.  We go through hours of it every night in dreamless sleep.  It’s a pretty safe bet that it’s precisely where we’re headed after our century or so of melodrama comes to an end.  So…if I, Desert Curmudgeon, were to die in my sleep, would anyone else wake up to experience another morning?  I mean, everything I’ve ever perceived has necessitated my observation to manifest, according to the aforementioned quantum theory.  So is this like a Truman Show situation for just one of us or are all of us simultaneously conjuring different experiences of reality?  Does it matter?  Would our ultimate destiny of eternal non-existence be changed one iota by either answer?

A recently trendy phrasing of the same existential conundrum goes like this: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”  Think about nothing again, but this time extricate yourself from the equation and just think of the physical, inanimate universe.  No living beings, no intelligence whatsoever to observe the phenomenon of cosmic flotsam and jetsam colliding and exploding and disintegrating and reintegrating in perpetuity.  Is this possible?  Obviously, I’m excluding “god” from this question, too.  Lifeless, chaotically moving stuff having no living stuff to observe it and with which to interact.  To my mind, this could not have been the case nor could it ever become the case.  “Stuff” without an observer isn’t stuff – it’s nothing.  “Nothing” with an observer isn’t nothing – it’s empty space or blackness or silence.

This is why I envy my dog.

I’ve no questions, as such, with which to leave you today.  I’m just interested in hearing your thoughts about…all of the above.

Try not to hurt yourself.

Intangibly,

‘Mudge

Dear Mole: Misanthropy 101

dog

Busy, yes, but in my case, only comparatively so in relation to my recent year of shirking all responsibility.  After receiving my textbook in the mail about a week and a half ago, I awoke at 5:00 a.m. the next day and hit the ground running.  I learned the correct directional terms on an animal’s body used in veterinary clinics, the names of all the bones in the canine and feline skeletal systems, the proper operation of a radiograph and ECG machine, the roles of the circulatory, endocrine, digestive and respiratory systems of domesticated animals, and the signs and symptoms of common diseases.  I continued this pace for another few days, acing the quizzes for each lesson, until it dawned on me that I had to slow my roll.  I mean, of course I was getting 100% on these quizzes – I was taking them literally two seconds after sitting through the corresponding lesson.  Perhaps this signifies a better short-term memory than I thought I possessed, but it doesn’t mean I retained the information.  So now, I’m taking a lesson a day and saving the quiz for the following morning after I’ve slept on it.

I’m surprised I didn’t nod off while typing that tedious opening paragraph.  Does that imply disinterest in the details of this new career I’m so impetuously pursuing?  Yes.  Yes, it does.  For instance, when I think about the woman in my past with whom I was most in love, I can’t ever remember taking even the most cursory interest in the function and structure of her spleen.  Ditto for Jesse.  I love dogs, but the individual parts and systems that compose and animate them have nothing to do with that fondness.  I guess I view veterinary medicine similarly to human medicine: it’s awesome when you have a broken leg or a rash on your naughty bits, but is the human animal really meant to survive for nearly a fucking century?  The precarious state of the planet on which all 7.8 billion of us live and its (naturally) ever-depleting resources is all the answer anyone should need for that one.

It’s so weird how excited everyone but me seems to be about the fact that I’m going to school.  I appreciate the enthusiastic votes of confidence, but I also think they’re somewhat misguided.  “You’ll do great, Paul!”; “How perfect!  You love animals!”; “Wow, a new chapter in your life!”  That last one’s the real kicker.  I’ve recently realized that my mind is in an obsolescent, nearly geriatric state.  I’m cool with hanging around for as long as my body holds out, observing things with varying degrees of interest and filling my head with silly frivolities, but I have zero interest in starting any “new chapters”.  In a recent post, I chalked this up to a short attention span, but that’s an oversimplification.  What I seem to be lacking is the ability to form an extended, long-term (i.e. lifelong) interest in any subject, discipline, activity or person.  I absorb most information that I take in, assuming I’m at least moderately curious about it.  For example, all of that Buddhist reading and practice into which I delved for five or six years left many lasting impressions on me, some of which inform most of my thoughts and behaviors in positive ways and will probably continue to do so since they’ve become habitual.  But the terminology?  The history?  The unpronounceable names of countless Tibetan and Indian “masters”?  The endless ritual and mantras and meditation practices?  What I found fascinating just a few short years ago bores the crap out of me now.  It’s the fact that I no longer seek out an image, you see.  If I had kept going with this and reached the point where I walked around wearing monks robes and greeting everyone with the word “Namaste”, that would indicate I’d deliberately decided to adopt the image of a “guru”, astoundingly inaccurate as that may be.  It’s also a pretty safe bet that many people would justifiably find me pathetic and laughable, just like I view anyone whose obsession is of the religious or spiritual variety.

Survival is incredibly overrated.  In the novel Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut expressed this opinion thusly (as the godlike narrative voice describing hapless protagonist Kilgore Trout): “I had given him a life not worth living, but I had also given him an iron will to live.  This was a common combination on the Planet Earth.”  The thing is, most people seem able to fool themselves into believing they’re still passionate about the same stale old things, whether it’s a career, religion, football, romance, politics or whatever else people utilize to fill the time while they’re in the process of surviving.  What’s that you say?  What about Notes From The Avalon?  Hey, Eastern philosophy held my interest for a half dozen years; it only took me 6 months to finish that admirable online crap-fest and if you’ll recall, I nearly threw in the towel more than once before its completion.  In other words, I would have reached the end of my Fifteen rope sooner or later had the series not conveniently ended before I got bored.  I don’t know how anyone can spend the better part of 100 years forcing themselves to keep sounding passionate about their childhood religion or the high school sweetheart to whom they’ve been betrothed for decades.  How exhausting!  What if we just allowed ourselves more honesty and less ego-stroking by admitting that sometimes, sparks fade and interests die?  Would society collapse?  Maybe it would.  Some professions do indeed require an inextinguishable passion for the work.  I don’t know how the hell people do it.

So we survive for the sake of surviving.  So do tapeworms.

Learning for me is always better when it’s spontaneous.  School doesn’t provide that type of learning, so I go by rote.  Cram, memorize, hope to hell I never have to apply the knowledge in a real-world setting.

Regardless, I think you made a great list of the major components of learning.  I know that it’s great because it is the lack of ability or willingness to engage in these processes that makes humanity as odious and hopeless as it is.  The one that really struck me was “Holistic lessons are useless…sweeping statements provide no guidance”.  This should be self-evident, but obviously it isn’t.  The best illustrative example I can think of is that of the alcoholic or drug addict who, in the interest of survival, turns to A.A. or N.A. for help.  Tangible help might be expected but sweeping statements and holistic lessons are all they receive.  “Fake it ‘til you make it!”  “One day at a time.”  “Let go and let God!”  What an industrial sized vat of hogwash.  12 step programs are so popular, in fact, because they provide so little pragmatic instruction – most folks just replace the liquor entering their mouths with stupid, trite slogans exiting them.  And this is the method of “recovery” that’s still fully endorsed by the AMA.  Those dedicating themselves to the spurious views espoused by Bill Wilson in the 1930s have essentially two choices: go back to being a drunk or become the ultimate buzzkill that only other recovery automatons can tolerate.  The vital thing missing from 12 step programs, of course, is an exit strategy, and that’s why, in the absence of anything else, many people embrace it as a lifelong passion.

ryan

So we fill the time however we choose while we wait on our survival instinct as it fulfills its curious, often century-long purpose.  Those who still see “importance” in this (i.e. a divine plan or lofty visions of human destiny) are obviously too frightened to look at the foundational facts.  And those facts, once again, can be summed up very simply: we live until we don’t because that’s the way it is.  Everything else is just window dressing, usually of the gaudiest variety.

Do you enjoy teaching?  If so, how do you manage to nurture enough optimism about the future of our species to consider the transfer of knowledge a worthwhile endeavor?  Would creative writing even be publicly applicable in the oppressive authoritarian world we’re clearly determined to bring about?

Dogs have a bone in their penis called, appropriately enough, the os penis.

I retained that one.

Higgledy-Piggledy,

‘Mudge

Dear Mole, Pancakes

pancakes

Oy, indeed.  Drawing the curtain on unanswerable existential questions is just what the doctor ordered.  But I wouldn’t know where to fish for the monkey-faced eel and despite my former status as a hallucinogenic connoisseur, I’ve never been able to get my hands on peyote.

Tuition is paid and I’m enrolled in the Santa Fe Community College veterinary tech program.  However, the online curriculum is rather useless until I receive my textbooks in the mail, so I have another day or two of exquisite inactivity to enjoy.

Yesterday, I filled some of that time by watching a few episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program.  This is what I learned:

Aside from a deeper understanding of canine and feline anatomy, this might represent the sum total of acquired knowledge needed to see me through the rest of my life.

I’m also hoping that it may serve to compensate for my lack of substantive commentary about food in my last post.

Boysenberry,

‘Mudge