Happy Birthday Martin

“Gravity – stay the hell away from me. Gravity – has taken better men than me; how can that be? Just keep me where the light is; keep yourselves where the light is.”  – Gravity – John Mayer

The Jewish folk call it “tikkum alom” meaning to heal the world. And as we know from the wisdom of Biggie Smalls, as posited to Tupac Shakur; “we can’t change the world till we change ourselves.”

Alan Watts said a false belief in permanence, say trying to be the same person you were the day before; causes pain. Lonely to think we don’t even have yesterdays self to relate to and this may cause life to seem an empty dystopian and existential dilemma if digested by the uninitiated all at once. So although I recommend proceeding with caution; Biggie’s advice and meaning are well received.

Gaggles of groovy guru essentially say the same thing in different ways and if you want the word from them you’ll probably pay handsomely for it in cash or calls for adoration. My beloved Muse Lisa gives it to me free; simply counseling me to “Be Love.”  Personally; I have reasons of self-interest to heed her advice; knowing that carrying anger just might cause cancer.

So every year on my birthday I avail myself to a tradition I invented wherein I delete all unnecessary files and wipe clean the hard disc in my memory of all the injuries caused by every bite, break, stab, scrape, cut, contusion and carbuncle inflicted by slights delivered, often unwittingly au pasaunt, by my friends. More times than not my idealized version of them interferes with reality and I come away disappointed, so it’s probably, usually, my fault anyway. Looking at it from that vantage point; I’m forgiving myself.

This year in a new tradition I also have just invented; since it’s Martins, America’s Nelson Mandela, eighty-sixth birthday today; I will dedicate this gesture unto, as the Irish say, himself. It’s not that I’m not still filled with psychotic Sicilian style rage for revenge, knowing that had that fey, cross-dressing J.Edgar Hoover protected him we wouldn’t have just a thirty-foot marble statue on the Mall, a Noble Peace Prize and a national holiday to remember him by, I am and we probably would; but since I’m no MLK; that I do not forgive. Yet I think about this and know he’d want me to just let it go; forgive, wipe the disc; so this birthday present Martin, is for you.

I’ll add some humanistic though Machiavellian logic to the mix to appease my wish for symmetry. I recently stopped quoting Frederick Nietzsche, history’s angsty teenage boy, when I discovered he ended up talking to his horse; but in the most famous quote from his 1888 book Twilight of the Idols he opined “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”. Here he was prescient. Scientists have found that small amounts of trauma can make us more resilient and I think most people take this axiom subjectively, when in the context of this tome poem, its meaning is best contemplated objectively.

If I don’t kill anger it will only get stronger and heavier and more cumbersome; a weight to carry on my shoulders and forever justify; getting exponentially heavier as the years accumulate. Mostly I’m just too into the “I don’t give a shit” mode of caring about some things and the “this too will pass” school of not caring about most things; to hump that jaundiced gear around like a disease. So my decision is motivated more by selfishness than spiritually.

I’ve said all that to say this. Martin would have accepted the prize, the statue, the stamp and the hundreds of millions of grateful folk whose minds he freed with a graceful appreciation. But I’ll bet he’d infinitely rather we made a list of the slights and miseries we feel others have annoyed us with and forgive; let it go; wipe the hard disc of our memories clean. In the end this is how we’ll get what we want most anyway. The more we practice “tikkum alom”, the more we will repair ourselves and in the process; heal the world.