January 04, 2012 | 12:31 PMGeorge Costanza: It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat–itt's all been wrong.
Jerry Seinfeld: Well here's your chance to try the opposite... If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
George Costanza: Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!
-Seinfeld, "The Opposite" (1994)
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Caroling from the grave, Ol' Uncle Franklin–with Einstein and Twain piping misappropriated harmonies–sing to me of insanity's defining quality: repetition of the same, expecting different results.
See, though the spare key is supposed to be under the doormat, it's not. Still, I look under the doormat at least a dozen times, as if the key (during the seconds which have lapsed since the last time I looked) might've been magically spit-back from the concrete void. With chagrin I concede that the dryer's sock-sized space/time vortex has not relocated.
And as I scrape my ass on the lowest windowsill, I can't help but think about how all this feels a lot like making and breaking New Year resolutions. The doormat is the windswept per annum calendar; the missing key is my will change.
Because indeed, 'twas the season to have been jollily guilt-free as another indulgent December's justified by a deluded January to come. And with advance apologies for clanging crass bells, my morning constitutionals have been proof of what a good job I've done. (C'mon, the book Everybody Poops is at this point a hackneyed holiday gag gift. I'm sure your delicate sensibilities will survive any offense.)
Sure, I could embark on another New Year resolving to weigh less, bullshit less, floss more and be more responsible, but I'll only get the lesses and mores mixed up–again. So, since the only thing resolutions have done is prove my proclivity for failure, it's become my first order of 2012 business to take the fool's errand of rewording what past years' left unresolved and archive it alongside alchemy and posting to MySpace.
Hey, if you can't quit while you're ahead, at least quit before you lose your head. (Thanks again, Uncle Franklin.)
Though I'm giving the New Year resolutions the boot, I don't mean to discredit the value of contemplating the passage of time past and endeavoring for better in the time that's yet to come. I mean, it's pretty damned cool that we collectively mark another of the Earth's ellipses around our sun ("the Earth's birthday" as my friend Rose comically describes), and the New Year holiday is both a pleasant reminder and convenient parameter for meditation.
Alright, that brings me to the second order of 2012 business: reflect on the business of 2011.
Yikes. This is going to be harder than I thought. See, I don't know about you, dear friends, but my concept of time is fucked. Maybe it's just the way the shape of time seems to change as we age, but I think it has more to do with keeping the hours of the wicked.
It used to be that I'd visualize time with each day trapped in a dry white box. A perfect game of Tetris, seven sugar cube days would ticker along as if on a receipt strip before tearing-off to stack by week–weeks that then chunked-off into square months which ticked along into twelve-month years and, finally, five-year bundles ever since 1985.
Maybe that sounds weird, maybe that sounds normal. Whatever. It worked. This was my image whenever looking forward or backward or to the tip of my nose.
But in these last few restless years, any dry concretization of time has been obliterated, for better or worse. Now, everything is just a mash of fast and slow moments, indiscernible from dream and delusion. It seems like I can't remember anything anymore unless I wrote it down (and managed not to lose it).
So, um, yeah. You know all that mushy gushy stuff I just said about reflecting on the year past and whatever? I take it all back. It's impossible. And even if it were possible, it's boring. You don't want to hear me yak on about a year I've already yaked on about any more than I want to be reminded of all foibles.
In fact, I think the lesson I learned today is it's OK to just move on. No tedious reflection. No grand resolutions to make grand changes. Just forward progress while keeping it high in mind that there's no use looking under the doormat when the key isn't there.
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