“Gonna Change My Way of Thinking”

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Today is Easter, so Happy Easter to all those who celebrate.  I like candy and dying eggs, so that’s what I celebrate about this holiday (plus, bunnies are super cute).  But I am not a Christian, so the religious connotations of the day do not matter to me.

In fact, the religious aspect of Easter have confused me for a number of years.  Not the honoring and celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  I totally get that, and I respect my Christian brothers and sisters in their observance.  And I don’t want to anger any Jukebox listeners who may be of that particular persuasion, but there’s something just the tiniest bit. . . off about how Easter is celebrated.

Okay, stick with me for a second here.  A Thing happens on a particular date.  If that Thing is of some kind of historical or cultural consequence, that Thing gets enshrined in a holiday of some sort.  Generally, that holiday falls on the same date as the Thing That Happened, or as near to it as everyone can agree on.  If said holiday is not in commemoration of a particular event or birth but in honor of a special group, it usually has a rule about when it is observed (i.e., a particular Sunday in a particular month).  Still with me?  Awesome.  A good example of a holiday for a Thing That Happened is the Fourth of July, which celebrates our declaration of independence from England (roughly coinciding with the publication of the document).  A good example of a holiday honoring a group would be Mother’s Day, which is held on the second Sunday of May every year (it’s the 8th this year; don’t forget your mom).  The one exception to both of these rules seems to be Easter.

See, every year Easter is on a different date, as are the holy days preceding it beginning with Ash Wednesday.  Now since this holiday is generally considered to honor a particular Thing That Happened, you would think it would occur on the same day every year.  It would also seem to follow that the holy days preceding Easter would also always occur on the same dates as well.  But each year, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the northern hemisphere’s Spring (thanks, Google!).  The day of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection did not change.  (While we can’t be 100% certain which days those things happened thanks to numerous calendar changes over the centuries, we could probably find a generally agreed upon date if we were pressed.  Kind of like we did for Christ’s birth.)  So why does the date of Easter range from the end of March to the end of April, generally speaking?  Why does what is generally agreed to be one of the absolute holiest days on the Christian calendar move around with the changes of the moon like some kind of Pagan holiday?

Think about it.

“A Long December”

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I didn’t consciously decide not to post yesterday, but things were so busy I just didn’t get around to it.  Family came over, and it was fun.  Food, presents, movie, general silliness.  My cats were even kind of friendly to people they don’t know very well.  Yay, Christmas!

I’ve used this song around this time of year before, but this isn’t really a repost.  I know I thought I’d be more downbeat for the upcoming New Year’s festivities, like I was before Christmas, but something seems to have shifted in me.

Maybe the shift has affected how I hear this song.  It is pretty depressing, with an almost equally depressing video.  But I’m not down listening to it.  There’s something hopeful here, a little spark that just needs some nurturing to grow into a warm flame.  “It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean, I guess I should.”  I guess I should.  Do something.  See the ocean again.  That big, beautiful, vast space that holds so much power and mystery and danger and promise and life.  Do something.  Do anything.  Live.

You’ve heard the saying: Do one thing every day that scares you.  That’s pretty easy when everything scares you.  I exaggerate a little in my case, because while I’m pretty riddled with fears both real and imagined, I’m not actually afraid of everything.  But I am trying to figure out ways to silence my fears long enough to be happy all the time.  Going back to school scared me, but I’m doing it.  It’s been weird, but good so far (I got A’s in both my classes, so I must have done something right.).  I’m scared about money, about Mom’s health, about all the possible disasters that could happen.  It seems sometimes like I’m not really happy unless I’m imagining some kind of terror bearing down on me.  But of course, all that fear is the one thing that makes me feel unhappy.  I’ve been in that place for so long, it’s comforting in a way.  It’s not good for me, though, and I know it holds me back.  So that’s the one thing I’m going to try to do every day that scares me: Live without fear.  (Crap.  That sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.)

Part of the shift I’ve been feeling is because I decided to play with Feng Shui a little in my home.  I don’t know what it will bring for me, but I’m working on improving the energy in my living space to bring about health and prosperity for us.  Doing things like rearranging the furniture or lighting candles or hanging mirrors isn’t some kind of magic cure-all, but it helps change my mindset, which is the biggest challenge for me.  If I can do something tangible that represents the intangible thing I’m trying to deal with, that makes it easier to do something with.  So Feng Shui it is, and let the cards fall where they may (or at least where they will be most auspicious).

The upcoming Lunar New Year is going to be the year of the Monkey, and I’m a Monkey.  (I used to think I was a Rooster, which is what most of 1969 was, but I was born right before the Lunar New Year, which puts me in 68’s animal sign of Monkey.)  I’m hoping that means that 2016 will be a good year for me.  And since I have a new mindset and a little Feng Shui energy, then maybe it will be.

 

Happy 4th of July

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I know there are many non-sports fans out there.  But I saw something on Keith Olbermann’s ESPN show last night that kind of summed up what the 4th of July is really all about.

I didn’t know that Lou Gehrig made his famous speech on the Fourth of July, but I was incredibly moved by both his speech and Olbermann’s commentary on it. What makes this speech so special, what makes it important, is that embodies everything good in human beings.  Gehrig can be held up as an ideal of American values.  Not because he played baseball, but because he understood just how fortunate he was to be able to play that game for a living.  To be able to choose his own path.  He was in control of his own life, and even though a disease no one could control ended it, he choose the way he left the public eye, with dignity and grace.

These days a lot of people talk about the government trying to control out lives too much.  We should have the right to do this, or the freedom to do that.  Taxes and healthcare and various laws protecting safety are all criticized for infringing on our rights.  But that’s not true.  The government’s job is to protect its citizens–even if that means protecting them from themselves.  All the things people criticize the most about the government are precisely the things it needs to be doing.  Welfare, subsidized health insurance, unemployment insurance, healthy school lunches, all of it.  That’s just the government doing its job.  Taking care of us.

We still have plenty of freedom.  We can go to the mall, and buy virtually anything we want.  We can choose what job we do, where we live, how many children we have (or don’t have).  We get to choose how we pray, or even whether or not we should pray.  Most of us are allowed to choose who we marry.  We get to vote.  We are allowed to protest our government, peacefully, without fear of persecution or prosecution.  We can say, in public, how much we hate our elected officials, and we can rest easily knowing that they will not come knocking on our doors to take away our money, belongings, and home.  The Constitution guarantees that.  Just like the Declaration of Independence states that all people are born with the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Notice that happiness itself is not guaranteed, just the ability to pursue it.  So before you go around complaining about all the infringing the government (or anyone else, for that matter) is doing on your rights, take a few minutes to find out what those rights are.  Ask yourself how much freedom you actually do have– how many of the limitations on how you live your life are a result of government interference, and how many are the result of the choices you yourself have made in living it.

And while you’re at it, listen to Lou Gehrig’s speech.  And remember that you are one of the luckiest people to have ever lived.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Cinco de Mayo has essentially become yet another excuse to get drunk and act stupid.  I’m not gonna get drunk.  I might act stupid, but that’s always a possibility.  But I am gonna listen to some awesome music.

This song doesn’t have any special association with Cinco de Mayo that I know of; I’m just rather fond of it.  The holiday itself is often terribly misunderstood.  Many people seem to believe that this is Mexican Independence day (it’s not), although it is used as a celebration of freedom.  The battle commemorated by today was in the state of Puebla; the Mexican army won an unexpected victory over occupying French forces, and it represented a huge moral boost for Mexican freedom in the chaotic years after that country’s civil wars.  (I’m not an expert about Mexican history, but I know the country was a mess for a long time after independence.  It wasn’t until fairly recently I even knew the French occupied the country at all.)  The victory represented the final time a European country attempted to invade a country in the Americas.

That’s reason enough to celebrate for me.  Party responsibly, though, folks.  If you drink tequila, remember that it’s strong stuff.

Happy Easter!

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I don’t really want to detract from the holiday spirit, but I just wanted to note that former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter has died at 76.  Carter was convicted of three murders he didn’t commit in 1967, and finally exonerated in 1985.  Bob Dylan wrote the terrific “Hurricane” about Carter’s ordeal in 1975.

 

It’s Easter.  It’s also 4/20.  Do with that what you will.

I am neither a Christian or a pothead, so really today is all about dying Easter eggs for me (I like hard-boiled eggs).  The whole colored eggs and other assorted imagery that isn’t directly related to Christ stems from various pagan and cultural traditions.  (Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, early Christians “borrowed” a great deal of their holiday timing and rituals from pagans in an effort to attract people to the Church.  Get ’em in the door, and then hit ’em with the Gospel.  It was a better system than going out and preaching, and getting yourself martyred for your trouble.)  Whatever your reasons for celebrating today, I hope you have a wonderful time filled with the treats and/or people you love the best.

Turkey Day Repost

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The holidays are different this year.  I had a bit of a bad time while I was out shopping yesterday, but I powered through it.  (I’m sure I’ll have a nice big meltdown before Christmas.)  But I’m still thankful.  I have my mom, and the rest of the family, and my friends.  I have my furry family members.  I have good health, and a roof over my head.  We’re having the big meal tomorrow, because a lot of people in our family have to work today; Mom and I will do something smaller here at home tonight.

I hope y’all have a lovely day today.  Enjoy your families.  Go shopping if you want.  Eat yourselves stupid (or not; that’s probably better for your health).  Enjoy listening to the massacre.

 

Happy Hanukkah!

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With the coincidental (and/or lunar) coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, the holiday season has officially begun.

Of course, if you’ve been in a mall, watched TV, or listened to the radio at any point in the last few months, then you know the holidays really began quite some time ago.  Hallmark stores release their annual Christmas ornaments in July (maybe it’s their way of honoring the release of the classic Miracle on 34th Street, which was advertised as “Christmas in July”).  There’s talk of sales and recipes for some time before any holiday actually arrives on the calendar.

Being of the gentile persuasion, it’s really not my place to opine about a Jewish holiday.  But it has always seemed like a warm affair.  Maybe that’s just me conflating it with what the season represents for seculars and Christians.  I know it’s not considered one of the holiest holidays; that’s reserved for the High Holy days, of course.  I think, though, that may have something to do with more contemporary culture and the way Hanukkah and Christmas come so close on the calendar.  It seems fun from the outside, what with the candle-lighting and gift-giving and games.

So I wish any Jewish folks who happen to read this a Happy Hanukkah.  I will not conflate your holiday with Thanksgiving, which is the most secular of holidays.  But I will risk offending someone by including a clip of Me First & the Gimme Gimmes ruining Johnny’s Bar Mitzvah (a totally separate and also religious celebration).  “Hava Nagila” doesn’t show up until the end, though, so you’ll have to put up with some other nonsense first.