“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…” — Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner was an amazing human being. Not only was she hilarious, but she showed tremendous courage and strength in circumstances that would level most people. She seemed to just take things as they hit her and find joy and humor where others wallowed in sorrow and pity.
I strive to find that magic in everything, no matter how crazy fucking painful or obscure it might be. However, in spite of her quote being one of my most favorite, and one I take to heart, I constantly question the things dished my way via the omnipotent universe, wondering why. A friend (well, let’s just say someone who calls themself my friend but who very well might need a swift kick in the dictionary — but that’s a story for another day) accuses me of always trying to label things as good or bad, suggesting that there is something wrong with my quest for the why of things.
Just because we search for some rationality in the unpredictable chaos of daily existence does not mean we are necessarily left of center. When we analyze situations and use words like good or bad, isn’t it just the recognition of the yin and the yang of things, that there are elements of both in all things. Good is not always positive and bad is not always negative. Even something as devastating as cancer can leave behind a positive residue when viewed from a certain perspective.
Gilda Radner’s devastating ovarian cancer raised awareness of the disease so that millions of women have since benefitted from early diagnosis and survival. For many of us left without friends and family members due to the ravages of cancer, or those suffering alongside loved ones still fighting their battle, among the pain and the sadness there is also room for increased compassion and a realignment of life’s priorities. It hurts like hell, I know, but there is good among the bad, and sometimes answers among the questions.
Life is unpredictable, sometimes so much so that the urge to jump off has an overwhelming appeal. But then, you’d miss the next thing thrown at you which might just be amazing. There is only one ride on this roller coaster of delicious ambiguity. Questioning, analyzing, trying to sort out and prioritize all that is lobbed our way along the twists and turns is just part of our search for ways to keep on track without losing our minds. Being able to make the best of anything, to be brave and accepting that you just never know what’s going to begin, end, or reappear, is absolutely brilliant.
August 3, 2011 | Categories: Life | Tags: acceptance, ambiguity, change, courage, delicious, delicious ambiguity, Friends, Friendship, gilda, gilda radner, hero, heroes, Inspiration, Life, making the best of it, perseverance, question, strength, universe, why | Leave a comment
“What a mockery is made of the brief battle for possessions, that makes so short a life.”
Gordon Gekko was not correct. Greed is not good. There is a reason it is one of the seven deadly sins. Virgil was much closer to the truth. Much like lust and gluttony, it is a sin of excess for the few and, more often than not, a dearth of the essentials for the masses. Greed has crept into our society in the masks of status and power, not just material wealth. Greed, by definition, is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth. By course of action, it is what breaks down society into the haves and have-nots and may very well be our eventual undoing.
How does it serve us as a community when the minority possess the majority of wealth and the majority are struggling to feed their children, keep a roof over their head, to just stay alive. Yes, yes, I know there are those who are lazy, addicted, irresponsible and may very well deserve their lot in life. But really, the larger percentage of those in need work their asses off for a pittance. Many are in the positions they are BECAUSE of the wealthy minority greedhounds (Enron, GE, Ford, etc.). How do the uberwealthy justify their existence when children are living homeless in the streets, left to make choices between being hungry or selling their bodies so they have money to eat. How is that ok? It’s not, it’s a repulsive side effect of greed, of excess.
This has been a topic of ongoing conversation of late. I recently saw I Am, which if you have not yet seen, you need to for Tom Shadyac is a pioneer leading the way in the right direction. While I agree whole-heartedly about the content, the direction, the need — a question has nagged at me about HOW to push the requisite masses in that direction, to unclench their fists from the money, the power, the delusions of success wrapped in a noose of excess.
One of the early guideposts for me in this quest was a post by Jonathan Fields about Karma Capitalism. As I was reading his blog a few days ago, it occurred to me that while the post is ostensibly about business and branding, by the end I saw a parallel to what needs to change in the world. The core of the problem is that greed has been branded as good. It comes with a slick marketing machine that is self-fulfilling, an engorging media-fest.
The alternative does not come in packaging that is nearly as sexy.
Therein lies the crux of how to affect the masses, to possibly harness the majority who are secretly hoping for something better/different, who “get” that they are living a lie but who have not yet figured out how to get out of it. Rethinking, reengineering needs to be branded in a way that shows the sexy benefits (brotherhood, community, sustainability, living without the strain of the joneses mentality, etc.) so that it can compete with greed.
It is time to change the game, reverse the process. Much like civil rights movements in the past, it is a game of the haves vs. the have-nots. There might as well be segregated and clearly marked bathrooms and water fountains, the divide is so ubiquitous and so obviously enforced. How to change it, I am not sure of just yet. I suspect it will be slow-moving. The pennies in a can theory. I Am and things like it are good to start/encourage the thought process, but it will take more to have any kind of larger/faster effect. We need to believe that we can dismantle the cultural barriers that forestall reform such as apathy and denial.
So, Jonathan’s words at the end of his blog that nailed it for me were:
Uncertainty, properly harnessed, is manna for innovation.
Lean into it. Dance with it.
The challenge is to focus not on how to be incrementally better, but how to change the game.
It ain’t easy, but if you can pull it off, it’s worth it.
Just something to think about. And isn’t it about time we started to think differently?
April 18, 2011 | Categories: Life | Tags: change, community, greed, homeless, homelessness, I AM the documentary, social change, Tom Shadyac, wealth | 3 Comments