Posts Tagged pain

The Evangelical Church of Jordan

Jordan Ascends

The Year is 2223.  Reverend Scott E. Pippen the 29th stands in front of his congregation of 24,000 with his arms raised high in the air.  He is a tall man, about 6 feet 8.  He is wearing a gown with the number 23 embroidered on the front in gold.  He is up on a stage with a golden basketball hoop mounted behind him.  A hush falls over the capacity crowd.

 “Today, I’d like to talk to you about greatness.  Many religions have valued different things over the years.  Some of the religions praised self-restraint, while others loved commitment and dedication.  These qualities can be very good things, but their followers seemed to miss the bigger point.  Trying really hard is not enough.  In order to truly be worthy of God’s love you must win!”

“AMEN!!!!”  screams a parishioner.

The people of olden times used to worship martyrs!  Do you believe it?  They would cast their lot with people who tried really hard….but lost!  Those martyrs were great men, but they couldn’t figure out how to triumph over evil.  Sure, they would say that some of their martyrs rose from the dead, but many people had trouble believing that part.  There wasn’t enough proof.  Maybe they were successful, but they weren’t able to pull it off on the big stage!  I mean, most messiahs wouldn’t make it in the NBA as a 12th man for the New Jersey Nets.  For years, we could only choose between this losing messiah, that losing messiah or sometimes a messiah that hadn’t even shown up yet!  Can you believe it people?”

“NO!!!!!”  shouted the crowd wildly.

 “Thankfully, on February 17th, 1963, that holiest of days, Michael Jordan was born in a barn in Brooklyn, New York.  As a child, Jordan was a good player, but certainly not the messiah we know him as today.  Everyone by now has heard the story of how he was cut from his High School basketball team.  This was the first in a series of setbacks for His Airness, but each time he was given an obstacle, he learned how to climb over it and most importantly HOW…..TO…….WIN!!!!!!

The crowd bursts into thunderous applause.

When Georgetown tried to slow him down in the 1982 NCAA Final…HE WON!  When the Pistons and Celtics stopped him early in his career he came back and….HE WON!!!!  When the Knicks attacked and beat him game after game he rose up and….HE WON!!!!!!  When Jordan retired for the third time, after his sixth NBA title everyone thought that was finished.  Then, as a 60 year old man, Jordan returned to the NBA and led the Chicago Bulls to four more titles.  Age tried to beat him down but…..HE WON!!!!!”

“JUST DO IT!!!!”  screams the crowd.

“Those old-fashioned religions used to talk about an afterlife.  They were preaching the gospel of weakness.  Today, we know that the dead are just quitters!  When Jordan turned 100 he proclaimed that he would never die.  He went up to his basketball court built on the side of the greatest mountaintop and that is where he is still today.  No one has talked to him in years, but he has promised that one day he will not only return to us, but return to the NBA.  One day, when you go to your weekend sports temple to show your commitment to God and your home team he will emerge from the tunnel and HE…..WILL……PLAY………….AGAIN!!!!!!!!”

“YES!!!!!”    “JUST DO IT!!!!!!”   “AMEN!!!!!!”

 “Those old fashioned religions told you that God loved everyone.  Jordan taught us that they were wrong!  The truth is that GOD LOVES A WINNER!  You prove your devotion to him not by being beaten down by the opponent but though VICTORY!  God has no time for losers.  He will not give you a trophy just for competing.  He has no time for lesser men.  He is not going to hold your hand and tell you it is okay to fail.  God values results!  The simple truth is that God Hates Losers!!!!”

“PREACH IT!!!!”  JUST DO IT!!!!”

 “Jordan came to save us all from the pain and humiliation of losing.  Whenever there is someone buying a pair of His Sneakers….HE’LL BE THERE!  Whenever there is a team the overcomes the evil of losing….HE’LL BE THERE!  And when we buy His shoes and praise His name and WHEN WE WIN……….HE’LL………BE……….THERE…..……TOOOOOO!”

The crowd erupts into a screaming, howling frenzy.

“And now I present to you the top ranked choir in the entire world….The beautiful and talented Jordan-Airs!!!!!!

The choir begins to sing and basketball players in different throwback Jordan uniforms dunk golden basketballs into the hoop above the stage…

“To The Temple of Jordan Our Savior Went One Day,
And We Read That Phil The Baptist Met Him There,
And When Jordan Scored 60 in the Finals Versus Philly
The Mighty Power of God Filled The Air.

I’m On My Way
To The Temple of Jordan
Were Going To Win
At The Temple of Jordan
And Victory Will Cleanse My Soul”

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The Banality of Evil

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Is Your Cat Nearsighted!

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Is Your Cat Nearsighted!!!!!

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IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!!!!!

Search For Alien Life Hits A Snag
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
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IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!
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IS YOUR CAT NEARSIGHTED!!!

IS……..YOUR………….CAT………………… NEARSIGHTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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We Are Bones, We Are Dust

This thing that I think that I am, sometimes, I am not.  Looking at an X-Ray of my right foot has twisted my mind into knots for the past few weeks.  It’s not that they found anything that disturbing. My doctor discovered a bone spur, which I was pretty sure that I had.  No surprise there.  I am having surgery tomorrow.  Again, not a surprise.  The thing that got in my head was the X-ray itself.  If I am what’s in that picture…what am i?

There was this picture of the bones in my foot staring at me.  The doctor was pointing to things and saying a bunch of words, but I was transfixed on the picture.  There I am?  There I AM!  There I am?!?!?!?  This picture is of the inside of me.  Underneath all of this skin and blood are a set of bones. These bones have been with me all of my life.  They were at my high school graduation, they were there when I got married, they attended the births of my two beautiful children, they have seen me laugh, they have seen me cry, they have been there when I thought I was alone.  I couldn’t process it. These bones are actually me!

The me that I think I am is the thing that experiences the world consciously.  I am aware of feelings and ideas.  I make plans and I remember experiences.  I see, I smell, I touch, I taste, I hear.  I have no problem associating these things with me.  Then, there are these bones. They are in me, they are part of me, but I can’t believe that they are me. This picture wasn’t some random x-ray they keep in the back and show everybody.  These were my bones!  Seeing them really sucked the magic out of everything.  I tend to think of myself as more than the sum of my parts, but maybe I am nothing more than my parts. Maybe, I am just bones and skin and blood with a few organs floating around.

There are parts of myself I have never seen.  I don’t know what my hip bone looks like.  I don’t know what my liver looks like.  My heart, my brain, my lungs…all highly valuable parts, but I couldn’t tell mine from my neighbors.  The me that I know seems so special, so unique.  My memories seem so important, as if they are part of some great mystery that I have a lifetime to solve.  My thoughts, my ideas, my identity all seem to be pieces in the great “who am I?” puzzle.  They all conspire to make me believe that I am an enigmatic character whose mythology is terribly important.  And then, there is this picture of the inside of my foot.  It is not special.  It is not unique.  It is simply mineralized osseous tissue housed in a pile of skin that is called “foot”.  There are somewhere in the range of 14 billion of them and they all pretty much look and act the same.  Sure, there are minor subtleties and nuances, but for the most part, what is the difference?

My foot does not find itself unique.  It pushes against surfaces over and over throughout a day.  It works, it rests.  It does not feel loneliness or claustrophobia if it is trapped in a shoe for too long.  It does not become jealous that I am favoring my other foot.  It does not make plans to meet with my spleen for coffee.  It does not become romantically involved with my esophagus.  It does not ponder the mysteries of the universe and wonder what will happen to it when it dies.  It is material and material has no time for enchantment.  It simply is.  When it ceases to work, it will waste away along with the rest of this thing that is me.

There is a part of me that cannot imagine that this is possible.  There must be something else, there must be something more.  I am more than that picture.  I am not just bones.  I am not just flesh.  I am something mystical.  I am more than those parts.  I am more than words on a page saying “healthy, well-developed 35 year old male suffering from Hallux rigidus“. Right?  Right?!?!?!

Maybe this identity of mine that I find so fascinating is just a bunch of electrical impulses.  Maybe we are just piles of material walking around among other piles of material, thinking that thoughts and memories and ideas make us more.  These self-important piles of material spend much of their time avoiding damage so that they can one day be part of creating new piles of material.  And on and on with no direction, no meaning and no end.  Thousands of them are created each day and thousands disintegrate. It does not matter…it is only matter.

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Down With CMOBD: A Survivor’s Story

Digging my way out from mega despair

“You can watch them all day and never know why…”

-The Mighty Machines Theme Song

I’ve spent the last 43 hours and 12 minutes with a song from my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine video in my head.  The song is called “Accidents Can Happen” and, needless to say, it’s not very good. They tell you about a lot of things before you have a child, but they never seem to mention the debilitating effects of children’s music on the functioning of your mind.  There was a point in my life where I was able to have a normal flow of thought.  That time is over.  In less than four years, my mind has turned into a Ringling Brothers sideshow act.

There was a song on a Blues Clues DVD called “Bebop A”.  My 2 year old daughter spent the entire car trip from New Jersey to Atlanta screaming “BEBOP A…HEY, HEY…BEBOP A…HEY HEY!!!”  Once or twice is very cute.  Heck, 50 or 60 times isn’t bad.  But after a while, the stuff gets into your blood.  You can’t go anywhere or do anything without thinking of it.  It’s like graffiti on your cerebral cortex.  You zone out for a minute and there it is.  Over and over.  When you lay down and close your eyes in a 30 dollar a night Motel 6 somewhere in Southern Virginia and you see Steve from Blues Clues staring at you with that smug, goofy look shouting “BEBOP A!!!!” you really get how far gone you are.

There are three stages of CMOBD (Children’s Music on the Brain Disorder).  The first is a general acceptance of the song.  You hear the Clifford the Big Red Dog theme and you don’t think much about it.  You go about your life pretty much unhindered. Occasionally, you notice that you are humming it, but you are nothing more than slightly amused that you remember it.  This is the denial stage.  Maybe you’ve been hooked before, but you think…not this time.

The second stage is where you start to lose control.  It’s when the song starts to consume you.  It runs through your mind constantly.  Sometimes it’s just the chorus, sometimes it’s a just a phrase, but it starts to take over your life.  You are driving a car. Suddenly, you realize you are headed in the wrong direction on a highway. You realize you were singing the awful Aaron Neville theme to The Little People.  Something about how Aaron says “little people and we’ll always be friends”.  Perfect.  You are lost in it.

You are an air traffic controller and someone asks you  “What runway should we land that DC-10 on?”  You reply with a blank stare.  You were thinking about the music at the beginning of Dinosaur Train.   Hundreds of lives hang in the balance and you are thinking about dear old Mrs. Pteranodon.  You have lost all orientation.  You are a CMOBD zombie headed with a one-way ticket to destruction.

Then, there is the third stage.  Complete withdrawal.  Blinding rage.  Utter confusion.  You are angry at the world because they can’t hear what you hear.  You don’t care whether they understand you or not.  You know that there is no thought that is more important than the Teletubbies theme. You close your eyes and you begin to understand that the smiling baby inside of the sun is looking at you and only you.  You crave Tubby toast.  You start to feel angry that the Tubbies have spilled things again and forced the Noo-Noo into more backbreaking labor.  You can no longer distinguish the world from your own personal CMOBD purgatory.

Many recover, but a relapse is never far away.  A CMOBD sufferer need only here a few notes and the whole vicious cycle starts again.  The confusion.  The hysteria.  The shame.  There is no known cure for CMOBD but we as parents must be vigilant.  I have spent three and a half long years suffering from repeated bouts of CMOBD, but I have not lost hope.  I know that a brighter tomorrow is just around the corner.  Won’t you be, won’t you be, won’t you be…my neighbor.

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