No one likes to physically age, or to wear glasses to read, or to watch wrinkles develop on what once was firm skin. And I don't think anyone really likes to become a curmudgeon, but it seems I am becoming one.
This blog was prompted by hearing...for as long as it took me to change the channel..."Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer," and realizing I was off on what has become an annual rant. As far as I am concerned, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is without doubt the most subliminally subversive Christmas carol ever written. Why? Because of its message: if you are different, you're fair game for anything anyone wants to do to you. (All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.) Hey, I was Rudolph!
The message, drummed into impressionable young minds at least 26,000 times every Christmas season, is clear: if you're "different" you're worth shit. Unless someone needs something from you. (Then how the reindeer loved him!) Right. Great message.
Being a curmudgeon doesn't come easy. It, like everything else in life, is a learning process. I'd be willing to bet most curmudgeons are, as Oscar Wilde defined cynics (surprisingly, my computer's Thesaurus does not consider "cynic" and "curmudgeon" synonyms), frustrated romanticists. Some people don the cloak of curmudgeonry (if a word doesn't exist, invent it) as knights donned suits of armor, as a defense against the slings and arrows of a world which has consistently disappointed them.
I, and I suspect others like me, go through life expecting the very best from people--including myself--and when met with frustration and disillusion time after time, the weight begins to take its toll until, in some but fortunately not all, it robs us of what we once so cherished. We become withered apple-core people unable to appreciate the good when it does present itself.
And we live in an optical-illusion world in which the first version that strikes our eye is too often ugly. Our political system is shattered, and those we elected to represent us represent only their own self interests. Our education system and prison system and health system; our physical infrastructure...all are crumbling around us and there seems to be nothing whatever that we (and especially we as individuals) can do about it.
I do not want to be a curmudgeon. I do not want to look in the mirror--well, I go to great lengths to avoid doing so in any case--and see Ebenezer Scrooge. Fortunately, there is still a part of me that delights in the positive, that loves the innocence of children and some adults, that chokes up seeing soldiers reunited with their families and watching people comfort one another in times of disaster. I love happiness, and patriotism, and people--especially two men, of course--in love.
It's a constant battle for a great many people...and I admit, to me...not to let our personal losses harden us to, and separate us from, the world around us. Holidays are particularly hard, especially as one gets older and those who were so integral and important part of our life are no longer in it.
But as some people, alone in the dark, sing to themselves to reassure themselves that everything will be all right, I sing songs to keep the door to hope and my belief in the goodness of humanity from closing completely: two of my personal favorites, as some of you know, are "Maybe This Time" and "The Impossible Dream." Who could not find hope and courage in their words?
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).