Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Holy Trinity of My Mental Health (revisited)

Mr Wong, Booboots and my beloved Bunyip have an immense therapeutic effect on me, thank heaven!

Today was one of those days when I went to bed as Vishnu (the Preserver) and woke up as Shiva (the Destroyer). What happened? NOTHING! But the silly season approaches and, as usual, it brings out the worst in me. If I had my finger on a Red Button I'd be sorely tempted to press it and let the whole shebang be blown to smithereens like some unnamed Mongolian woman (who, Imigresen insists, never visited Malaysia). On days like this I tend to view the entire human experiment as an abysmal failure - Homo sapiens, my foot! More like a nest of contentious lice with all their stupid conflicts over primitive belief systems.

This year (2007) it was compounded by the fact that yesterday was a public holiday (Hari Raya Haji) and the banks were closed - which meant some money deposited in my account on Thursday won't clear till Christmas Eve or maybe even after Boxing Day, leaving me with exactly RM111.70 in my wallet plus a residue of RM9.12 in my Maybank account. Of course, I wouldn't be quite so cheesed off if this pathetic country called Bolehland believed in paying freelancers on time.

Wrote a feature for a national daily back in August and I'm still waiting for the measly payment of - what, RM250? It's absolutely indefensible and outrageous - and Malaysians have the gall to publicly lament the dearth of full-time writers. Where are all the great novelists? Well, you'll find a pile of skeletal remains on Desolation Row with notably large skulls who all perished waiting for checks in the post.

What is it about Christmas - or Kerismas (as Dean Johns recently called it in a barbed piece he wrote for Malaysiakini) - that brings out the Beast, if not the Scrooge, in me? When I asked myself many, many years ago why people living in the tropics would send each other greeting cards with images of reindeer, wintry landscapes, pine forests, and white-bearded fat men in red suits, I realized that most folks are totally unoriginal - and, what's more alarming, they hardly ever think, except perhaps in pre-programmed loops with default settings. After 130 years of British rule, many Anglophile middle-class Malaysians have adopted "Xmas" as their own celebration, without researching the origins of what once was a pagan celebration of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. December 21 or 22 marks the longest night of the year in the north and the mid-point of winter (in the southern hemisphere it would be the peak of summer). To cheer themselves up after weeks of dreary weather, folks celebrated the symbolic renewal of life after a period of hibernation with a big feast and lots of wine. Sometimes these parties would get a little orgiastic, especially with guys carrying mistletoe sprigs around just so they could kiss any girl they chanced upon. People sure knew how to have fun back then.

Then the reptilian Roman Church came along and co-opted the pagan festival, declaring it to be a celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus (whose actual birthday, according to some scholars, was October 4th). It was all a matter of political expediency and mass mind control. Centuries later, December 25th was hijacked by the retail business and turned into a paean to gross consumerism.

Flashing lights, sparkly baubles, and plastic pine trees became a billion-dollar industry - along with gift wrapping, fancy ribbons, frozen turkeys and imported Christmas pudding. Knowing all this, I found it hard to go along with the fake jolliness and greed-driven bonhomie of this aggressively marketed consumerist festival. Okay, so it was an excuse for far-flung families to get together - well and fine - but the pressure of exchanging gifts invariably gets to me. I enjoy giving presents spontaneously, when so inspired - not because it's expected. Five decades after I discovered the truth about Christmas, the tradition rages on undiminished - with the same old mindless carols and silly Santa songs blaring from every department store p.a. and vaguely Christian household.

Most folks say they love the cheery atmosphere around Christmas. Something must be wrong with me, I'm more likely to feel depressed. But then I've always been one of those misfits who absolutely detests campfire songs. Guess I'd never make the grade as a populist politico. I despise the Lowest Common Denominator far too much. People who subscribe to the Lowest Common Denominator know how to write hit tunes according to formulas decreed by market surveys; they know precisely what the public wants - and unabashedly dish it to them. Sensational tabloid headlines, mindless slogans like "Malaysia Boleh!"... wrestling videos... T-shirts emblazoned with popular football club insignia... great stuff, it sells like hot cakes!

Well, I allow myself to rant and rave and turn my nose up at the great unwashed one day out of every year - the other 364 days I'm a pretty upbeat and positive-thinking sort of fellow. In any case, those who spout idiocies like the Bottom Line and capitalize on the Lowest Common Denominator will probably end up in the Lowest Consciousness Domains come Non-Judgment Day.

Anyway, Happy Solstice, folks! I'm okay now. My mood lifted as soon as I saw Mr Wong smiling at me like the Dog of Dogs he truly is. Then I went down to the river with Ahau and Anoora (escorted by the canine corps) and after a minute under the best jacuzzi in the universe, my grumpy feelings were washed clean away. There was an Indian family picnicking at our usual spot and I felt my heart chakra expand as I silently blessed them all on this sacred day - and I realized I don't have what it takes to be a Great Dictator or Evil Emperor, since I can't stay angry with humans for more than a few minutes.

[First posted 21 December 2007, reposted 25 December 2016]


Anonymous said...

Finally! I've been telling people this for years - the real new year celebration is the one defined by the cosmos, when the sun is lowest or highest in the sky, thats 22nd Dec or June. We should be celebrating the worst of the winter, or the best of the summer -thats the real tradition, thats why there are ancient pagan stone circles near my home in Scotland, thats when and why we should be celebrating instead of endorsing a recently superimposed religious dogma or reducing ourselves to a commercial ploy! I havn't found anyone who wants to help celebrate the solstice, they're too busy 'christmas shopping' and looking forward to celebrating the new roman calendar year instead.

Starmandala said...

Solstice Greetings, Graham! I was pleased to find out a few hours ago that the Chinese celebrate Mid-Winter's Day on Dec 22 this year (the date varies from year to year as they use the lunar calendar)- and, of course, that symbolizes Zero Point in the summer-winter-summer cycle. Lots of predictions about Big Stuff happening this Solstice - so far I've only experienced a few hours of grouchiness, but in a few hours a whole new Galactic Day begins. Indeed, some say there's a 5-year mismatch between Gregorian and Mayan calendars which makes TODAY the much-touted moment of Galactic Alighnment expected on 21 December 2012. In effect, if these "experts" are correct, this is already 2012!! END OF LINEAR TIME, FOLKS :-)

cavingliz said...

Have to agree with the comments about paying freelancers..... I've suffered the same problems here in Bolehland :-)
Also agree with all the Christmas comments......... makes me feel really "bah humbug" when I see all those non Christian Msians buying decorations and presents and not really knowing why they are doing it, except they want to jump on the commercial bandwagon.
Happy Winter Solstice!

PS love the pic of Mr Wong.

Tunku Halim said...

Agreed 1000%! XMas is a materialistic wonderland. In a world of too many things, we should focus on simplicity and spirituality. Have to go . . . need to wrap some XMas presents! :(

bibliobibuli said...

very well said. agree with you aobut the treatment of freelance writers - i think it is supposed to be considered a hobby here to write for the papers while you have other means of supporting yourself. i measure all purchases now against the fee for an article and the blood and tears and sheets of scrunched up paper weigh very heavily indeed.

i'm lucky that i can take and use exactly what i want and need of christmas (tree, home made mince pies, benjamin britain's "a ceremony of carols") without any "have to".

of course it's a pagan festival. the eating binge characterised this period when one ate the food stored from summer before it went rancid, and built up body fat to last the winter.

the christmas tree is a northern relative of the greenery brought into the house to keep the spirit of the earth alive until the spring

and dec 25th (as dan brown would also tell us) is the birthday of the god mithras. as you say the early christian church was very clever replacing pagan festivals with their own. (easter too!)

compliments of the season!

Starmandala said...

Thanks for the comments, friends. At least I know this blog is being read. This year I spent hours - no, days - editing a special DVD ("Nothing Much Happens In Paradise...") for family members who rarely visit. My daughter bought me a pair of cargo pants - they fit perfectly and look pretty sharp. It's not all bad, Christmas...

Mithras, the Sun God, is known by many names, including Apollo, Ra, and Ram. Not too many are familiar with the Egyptian Moon God - Thoth, son of Ptah, patron deity of all Scribes and Scientists!

vinus said...

It’s a great chance to share something of the life of this church with others.

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