Is this all?
That question has been lurking in the back of my mind for most of my life. I remember it being especially strong when I was young. I didn’t feel comfortable in any setting, in my family, in church, as a part of the student body, as an adult etc. I don’t know how to explain it, but even during my best periods as a member of these different structures, I wasn’t content.
There’s always been a feeling that something was missing, that I was missing something. I couldn’t be the son, brother, grown up, church member, friend, employee other people expected me to be. I have, as some of my readers know, struggled with faith and relating to people for big parts of my life. I have described the different challenges I’ve had through life (autism like symptoms, depression, anxiety, difficulties in relating to people, difficulties keeping a job), and these could of course be the whole explanation. There was a period when I felt a bit like Holden Caulfield from the novel A Catcher in the Rye. I saw phony and emptiness wherever I looked, and it was clear to me that I couldn’t trust anyone.
I struggle as much with my relationship to God as I do to people. I am still keeping a certain connection to God, so I feel that I have more than nothing, also when it doesn’t feel like it. I don’t go through life calling people phony, but there is a lot of it around. It’s one of the reasons I ignore people.
It’s Maundy Thursday today, the day Jesus had his last supper with the disciples. The Norwegian name Skjærtorsdag comes from a Norse word meaning purification. It might be a translation of the same word, but I think the same word is used in purgatory. On the other hand, if I could travel a thousand years back in time, and they said I needed to purify, I’m sure it wouldn’t make feel better. They did after all use the sword diligently in their evangelizing, but I digress. 😉
I remember Easter as a low scale celebration from my childhood. It was a time when families did things together, played board games (this was of course long before internet and gaming), quizzes, walked in the park, read books, and of course watched some TV.
I have mentioned in a previous post that we have a bizarre tradition of crime shows on TV during Easter. I used to like reading and watching adaptation of oldfashioned British crime authors like Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. The problem today is that there is too much. Even with just the basic package from the cable company you can spend all night, every night watching CSI and and the different spin-offs. That’s just a small part of the shows, so there really isn’t anything to anticipate for Easter.
It’s like with Christmas. Many spend so much money and effort on Christmas food and parties during Advent, and when it’s finally Christmas, they couldn’t care less. It’s something similar for Easter. I saw a newspaper headline yesterday. The Police are warning parents against leaving their teenage children home when they leave for their holidays. Apparently there are home alone-parties that get out of hand. Somenthing is clearly different today.
Easter used to be a time when people that had a country house spent the holiday there, and many went to cabins in the mountains. That still happens, but it’s a lot more upgraded. It’s basically a second home with satellite dish, widescreen TV, computers and broadband, playstation/Xbox etc. These are wonderful tools if we don’t spend too much time not communicating inside the family. I wonder how much happier it has made us.
We measure success and happiness in how much we own. There are a lot of happy people, but sometimes I wonder. Everything appears to be perfect on the surface, but maybe some people are just better at faking it? There is a reality show that I watched a couple of episodes of. Translated from Norwegian it’s called The Luxury Trap. In this show two advisers from a bank and a psychologist help families out of debt. They give them advice on what they can do to deal with the debt they have, as well as trying to change their behaviour. They also act as mediators with the debtors, but the families have to do everything themselves. What struck me when I saw that show was how these people were using money as a drug. If they needed to feel better they didn’t care what it did to the rest of the family.
They use loan and credit cards to cover loans and then they continue this crazy lifestyle instead of paying down debt. I’ve seen a couple of episode of the Swedish edition too, and most people on this show spend at least a couple of thousand dollars more every month than they make. It makes me wonder. This is something new. Maybe it’s a part of the fascination with the rich and famous. That existed in the early history of the Hollywood studios too, but now we have reality shows where anyone can pretend.
The Luxury Trap irritated me. I’ve never had much money, but I often wish I did. I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t have to pay only the oldest bills and see the pile grow, or buy the cheapest possible food. This article in New York Post is quite thought provoking. I don’t have any romantic feelings about being poor. You can still be happy as a low income family, but it also makes you very vulnerable and it makes it harder to help your child on the autism spectrum.
I don’t really wish I had someone else’s life, but as a long time resident of the village of Limbo, I can assure you it’s not all pleasure. All in all I guess I still feel I have a better life than my financial status would suggest, but I agree with Caulfield on one point. Hypocrisy is rampant and still most people don’t feel that the Church has anything to offer them.
There’s no going back to the 70’s I grew up in, but I think Norway had potential back then. We were different.
I guess I was ranting, but hopefully there was some point in between here somewhere.