Friday, November 4, 2011

Eight-thousand, one-hundred and eight days.

Beloved and I tied the knot on August 19th. Some woman named Kim married some guy named Kris on August 20th. Their marriage has lasted 72 days. On the day Kim filed for divorce, Beloved and I celebrated 8108 days of marriage. I do not write this to poke fun at Kim and Kris; a failed relationship is painful, no matter how short. A failed marriage must be even more so. Just imagining life without Beloved makes me cringe. That would be, to quote one of my favorite pieces of literature, “A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” (Thank you, Judith Viorst.)

Therefore, I do not intend to make light of this short marriage. I do, however, intend to make light of society for paying for it. Apparently, the couple was paid in the neighborhood of $18 million for their wedding to be broadcast on TV. This means that over the course of the 72-day marriage, as a couple, they made over $10,000 per hour.

Every viewer of that special should be shouting in protest, “That is my money, I want it back.” In fact, they should be calling for an occupation of most reality TV shows, until they redistribute their wealth and engage in common sense.  If you think that freedom from that kind of exploitation for everyone is an innate right, you might be one of us.

That is the problem. ‘You might be one of us.’ People are waiting for someone to tell them what they should buy, how they should dress, how they should style their hair, what they should drive, in order to be ‘one of us.’ We watch reality TV shows to tell us how to ‘live the good life.’ We hope they will tell us the secret of how to ‘be one of us.’

In reality, the ‘they’ are just like ‘us’. With two exceptions, we pay to watch their lives, rather than living our own and they pay more for their mundane lives than we do for ours. I drive a mundane car, live in a mundane house, and have a mundane job (two actually).  Since I cannot afford to buy new tools every week, I, on regular occasions, go on adventures to find the ones I already own. I shopped for a used mini-van and was bitten by a poisonous spider. I have answered the age-old question, “Is a recorder a classical instrument?” I have been called a leprechaun and passed out from joy. I have driven halfway across the country and schemed with my friend about hiding the body of someone we hit, rather someone we had not hit yet, but might theoretically hit at some possible future time, and what we would do to escape the severe penalty of said theoretical hit. All of this has been done in my mundane life, with my mundane mini-van, mundane house and in a mundane neighborhood.

I received a thank you note from a student in my Sunday school class. This young man of the seventh grade variety wrote, “Thanks for sacrificing your useful time…” not valuable time, but useful time. He understood something amazing. Doctors have valuable time; lawyers have valuable time (at least they charge enough to make it valuable); Kim and Kris had a valuable marriage. But, value isn’t always useful. I fixed a leaky toilet and Beloved said I was “useful to have around.” A plumber would have been much more valuable, but I was useful. That is the way I want to be—useful. For that reason, I plead with you all, sacrifice your useful time; fix a leaky toilet, play with a child, take a good afternoon nap, laugh at a joke (preferably one of mine). Do not occupy Wall Street. Do not emulate those people on TV. Instead, be useful my friends, be useful.

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