Friday 17 December 2010

Imagine Life Without Escapism & Folly ....

Imagine life without escapism & folly .... Enjoy your own stage and forget the judgement!

So much of what we experience - especially when we look back - is totally ridiculous, cringingly embarrassing and downright daft. Theatre of the absurd or comic farce. The trick of the light here is that when we are going through these situations in some depth, we may even see them as radically serious or crucial to survival. And maybe at some level they are.
Let’s be plain, we’re not speaking now of things which may be tragic and genuine crises - like illness or accident where normal behaviour is not on the agenda. We’re speaking of lesser unforgettable scenarios ... going out on a limb for misguided causes or perpetuating scenes involving misunderstanding. Things which at the time seem to suck us in and continue against all the odds to grow and take us with them.

We look back at ourselves and we relate funny stories for the entertainment of others, and there is often a touch of embarrassment, no matter how much the story is appreciated, or how hilarious it is, because seen through the lens of our greater wisdom onto our more bizarre behaviour we can’t imagine allowing ourselves to be such stooges or such saps for the extraneous doings of the world and its brother. But if we can’t ‘eventually’ laugh at ourselves (and we do stress the word eventually rather than immediately) then we’re in trouble. Some of the stuff is neither here nor there, trivial and hardly worthy of second thought as it flits through the memory, but some of it isn’t and we have trouble gauging whether it was a tragedy or a comedy, and seeing as both are symbiotically interwoven we may never reach a conclusion. These things stays with us for the rest of our lives, and unless we get a perspective on them they bother us.

One of the more extreme examples of this is illustrated here by someone who relates the story of a set of events happening shortly after she entered the adult working world as a teenager in the mid 1960’s......

This episode in her young life involved being hooked into a phone conspiracy during office hours and agreeing to act as a liaison between her then best friend and one of her own bosses (a partner in the small business where she was employed). All because the best friend and the one boss had a telephone affair going and rarely met in person (her best friend was also sixteen and hiding the fact). This resulted finally in the teller of the story being sacked by her other meddling boss who was resentful of his partner’s peccadillo, kept out of the loop of what was truly happening and felt the situation to be threatening to his business and his political aspirations.
The whole fiasco had its roots quite innocently in the best friend’s quest to bring spontaneous fun to a man for whom she held an illogical attraction, and both girls believed the cause of his depression and psychological ruin lay with his controlling and bullying business partner, who then became the butt of several phone pranks and a string of practical jokes (which he naturally found unfunny).

All hell broke loose and what started out as juvenile experimentation and good fun grew into a melodrama of sinister proportions with quite detrimental consequences, as the egotistical boss went to ridiculous lengths, embroiling everyone he could think of to aid his solving of a mystery that essentially was not his concern (if you disregard what he called the misuse of his phone lines). These lengths included enormous expense employing private investigators, approaching the girls’ parents and threatening both girls with criminal proceedings. Exploding the situation out of all proportion. (small wonder he was inclined to politics).

Screen writers may be paid to elaborate realistically such events, and it is why novels and films exist. We accept that life reflects art just as much as art reflects life. But it is only when the girl in the story (now in middle age) looks back that she sees it was both absurd and mad - not just the happenings but the drastic results. It might all have been sorted out happily, as in a farce by Moliere. And it doesn’t matter that it was perpetuated mostly by adults while she was still virtually a child. It happened. She learned from it, even if the price was high.

There is a saying: if you don’t eat life it eats you. Rarely do we know what we will incur when we decide to go into the outside world, whether it’s a stroll in the park or a blind date or an excursion into new territory. We become the pawns of so-called fate, and hopefully our free will and instinct are enough to inure us from the worst side of this. We try to protect ourselves from the upsetting unknown, yet we watch films and drama for stimulus of one kind and another involving other people’scliff-hanging circumstances or their cutting edge dilemmas.
So what did our ancestors do before there was t.v. and radio (and heaven forfend, the invention of the internet?) and they couldn’t get to a theatre!! And what if they weren’t allowed to read books or could not afford books ... Try to imagine it! A world without escapism. The thought of it is awful. How bleak is life without human folly? anyone’s folly will do! As long as it’s not our own!

With hindsight, on reflection and in retrospect, it very often is our own. But we not only survived it, we triumphed and lived to tell the tale. We grow older and matured and more seasoned on the rich tapestry of life, together with the more harrowing side of absurdity, disconcertion and gob-smacking stupidity. It’s what it is to be humanly involved in the world and its stage.
It was Jean Paul Sarte who said ‘life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think!’

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