The problem with having a full-time job is it eats up most of your life. My wife Jina gets resentful if I don’t focus enough attention on her (understandably, as that’s supposed to be part of the marriage deal). Luckily, she has the electronic babysitter (or “babyshitter,” as she’d pronounce it) of the internet to distract her while I’m engaged in some solitary activity such as reading a book or staring off into space at a bunch of ghosts.
Today, however, is her day, meaning the day we have to go to church. The sad thing is that I actually look forward to going. Not that I get anything out of the service, which is of course a complete waste of time and source of embarrassment to me since I deem it a vast crock of shit; but the meal afterwards sometimes affords me the opportunity to hobnob with a few attractive younger women (who probably view me as an unthreateningly avuncular figure, instead of a dirty old man), albeit briefly, and since most of them are well-rounded enough to talk about something other than Jesus, I don’t get bored enough to hang myself [as I sometimes do when “talking” to Jina–although listening is the more operative gerund (or at any rate pretending to)–especially when she goes off like a carton of milk left out on the kitchen table too long on the topic of her favorite immortalized dead celebrity)].
A week ago she somehow blackmailed me into agreeing to pray with her for ten minutes every night at nine p.m. (no exceptions, please) from across the kitchen table mentioned above. I’ve never been a big fan of prayer, mainly because it doesn’t work, but also because I spend enough time talking to myself anyway, whether out loud or in mute form, usually while walking around in public like a schizophrenic having a meltdown.
The other reason is that groveling is degrading, and groveling greedily doubly so. Since the substance of Jina’s prayers involve begging for things we don’t have–like, for example, health–the only thing that prayer can do is make both of us that much more aware of what we lack, instead of count our blessings (besides, I thought that was what prayer was supposed to be about in the first place–or for asking the Big Guy to help out the rest of the have-nots instead of your own sorry-assed self).
Last night I started cracking up while we were praying. Jina led the ceremony while holding my hands, at one point saying, “Jesus, thanks for dying for us–for me.” When she paused in her shtick, started by my snickering, I told her I had something stuck in my throat. It was just the way she worded it–unwittingly hilarious (a phrase you could use to sum up religion in general).
The adage has it that there are no atheists in foxholes. I beg to differ. And, much as I resent that I may have to die relatively young, I really have no right to as it’s my own fault for making so many dumb choices in my life. For someone who’s been incredibly fortunate and privileged in a lot of ways, blessed with having been born white, male, and middle class during a time of unprecedented national prosperity, I’ve botched the situation beautifully.
I also forgive God for not existing; at least that’s one thing we have in common.
Unlike Jina, I’m not cut out to be a puritanical ascetic. The Buddhist Middle Way is for me (even though the words “I” and “me” make no sense in Buddhist parlance). And yet, I often seem to gravitate towards extremes. They impart life with vitality, except when they leave you feeling desiccated and spent.
It would be nice to survive for a couple more decades, apart from the unfolding hell on earth they’re sure to entail, much of which is already in evidence on many spots upon the globe.
So which one are we, the spot remover or the spots?