By Neil McKinnon

Thomas Edison


It’s self-evident. Humankind is a mess. Look at our present situation: the environment is deteriorating, our infrastructure is collapsing, injustice is a festering wound in the human soul…and Boris Johnson has lost his comb.

Most of our philosophies and religious ideologies have shown themselves as either bankrupt, perverted or impotent. In my lifetime, the angle of the national erection has sagged at least 30 degrees. We have lost our way.

Recognizing we are lost is not pleasant. It forces us down a forlorn path—the well-worn lane of whence, why and where. Where do we come from? Why don’t we come from somewhere else? If we came from somewhere else would others come from where we came from or would they also come from somewhere else? Would they wonder where they came from? Would they care where I came from? If they don’t care where I came from, should I care where they come from? If I don’t care where they come from does it matter where I come from?…and why did Janet Jackson’s clothes malfunction at the Super Bowl.

Only through in-depth exploration of these and similar questions can we hope to be free of our own and civilization’s tormenting demons. We must transcend our cultural pantheon of religious and philosophical myths. We must take control and then question and re-question…

Questions such as: Who am I? Why am I who I am and not someone else? If I were someone else, who would I be? Who would she be? Would she be me? If she were me would she wonder why she wasn’t somebody else or why she was me instead of me? Would she wonder why she wasn’t him? Why isn’t toilet paper perforated in Japan?

Most human struggles stem from contradictions within us—contradictions placed there by religious mafiosa who gain ascendancy by convincing us our bodies and spirits are a combat zone where God and a rebellious angel replay an unwinnable war through eternity. Other spiritual experts extort behavioral compliance by warning that a life lived improperly will ensure return as a slimy toad on the next iteration. We must follow the right prescripts in order to get into heaven or reach satori. The biggest mistake in both these views is that they see death as a PROMOTION—only by cashing-in can we cash-in. “You’ll spend your whole life in the mailroom, son, but do as I say and, when you pass on, you’ll get the key to that big executive washroom in the sky.”

“Yes Father, it’s all I ever wanted—to die and get to pee in the celestial urinal.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderfully ironic if birth was the promotion—if the passage from amnion to ether was the last great step on some cosmic organizational ladder? Not only would it mean that this is as good as it gets, it would lend credence to the claim made by a group of strange people who dress in green and wear watermelon hats. A claim that states unequivocally that, “even though B.C. may be God’s country, She frequently travels to Saskatchewan to watch football games …and occasionally goes to North Dakota to play pool.”

Throughout history many have created divinities. None of these can be more than they, even if we singularize and capitalize … Divinity! As my Grandpa used to say, “a silk purse made out of a sow’s ear is still just a pig in a poke.” So, the nature of God is not a question. To paraphrase Pogo, “I have seen the Lord and she is us.”

If we accept that we create God, and therefore are God, then we must accept that we have opened a whole new conundrum—WHY? When we take control we get to choose, not only the path of inquiry but, if we so desire, a new destination. There are many roads to Rome and by choosing carefully we may be able to avoid the Vatican altogether. So, let’s try. The answer to our question of Why? is simple: Why Not!

Or, perhaps the answer to, “Why am I here?” is Because I choose to be.

Now… why do I choose to be here? More importantly, why do I choose to be here at this particular time? Being in control is fun—not only can we phrase our own questions, we can add relevant variables.

Time is a vast and twisted chain that connects us all. The chain is coiled within and about our world but no link alone is the causal centre. The roots of all things are tied together by time. If we destroy our earth we destroy our heaven. A life with no joy destroys a tree and a hundred joyless lives can darken the firmament.

Nothing lives forever in Heaven as it is on Earth. There was once a time before Heaven and Earth, a time before day and night. What was before the sun? Why, there was stuff…and from this stuff the sun was born, and then the earth, and the plants and animals and finally man who created God and heaven. So, the ultimate source is stuff.

The connection with time provides clarity. We have never bid adieu to our roots. We choose to be here at this time so we can do stuff. We can spend an aeon searching but we’ll never encounter a living entity who is not busily engaged in doing stuff or planning to do stuff or regretting the stuff he did yesterday. Stuff is second nature to us. We do it spontaneously. It is the essence of every reflex and behind every plot, motive, goal, objective and human desire.

But, we are not a bunch of clones. Though we are all rooted in stuff we have our differences. Some do stuff. Others cook stuff. Many buy stuff. There are even those who send stuff and others who receive it. I once heard a computer whiz say she was programming stuff. A few people strut their stuff and, at the moment, I’m writing stuff.

Children are born with an innate knowledge of stuff. Once when I was very young, before I became confused by adults, I was caught playing doctor with a girl from down the road. I distinctly remember the conversation with my parents:

“What were you and Ginny up to in the hayloft?”

“I dunno, stuff I guess.”

“Why didn’t you have any clothes on?”

“I dunno. We were just doin’ stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“I dunno. Just stuff.”

Notice there is no ambiguity. With a kid, stuff is stuff—case closed! Kids are all true believers.

So what, you say. Of what relevance is stuff to today’s modern fast-paced hectic world? How can stuff preserve and protect us? How can stuff provide the salvation we so desperately crave? Is stuff a panacea …or is this just the stuff of dreams? We do well to remember that in the baseball game of life, the trick is to have one more relief pitcher. Let’s delay the game and call her out now.

Know then that the essence of stuff is to do. This means that when faced with a choice of whether to do stuff or not, we must do it. It’s as simple as that. To say that to do stuff that achieves nothing is to do stuff in vain is too calculating. So long as you choose to do stuff, it does not matter whether you do it in vain. Doing stuff can never be to your discredit. To those who do stuff there are always aesthetics in what they do with their lives.

Only doing stuff can continue to preserve our culture. What is culture but the stuff of behavior. It would be impossible to write a history of humanity without taking account of stuff. Remember, all the great figures of history did stuff. Marco Polo did stuff. So did Marie Curie and Wordsworth. Thomas Edison invented stuff and F.W. Woolworth sold stuff. A Haida warrior gave away stuff and Bill Clinton smoked stuff (but he didn’t inhale).

If the foregoing seems like stuff and nonsense, or even just a bit stuffy… remember it was written by a stuffed shirt in a stuffy apartment after he had been stuffing his face with stuffed turkey and a whole lot of other stuff. He was also upset because he had made a list of all the stuff he had to do and was in a mood to tell the whole world to stuff it.

The End


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