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The Power of Silly
The Silly Olympics
Eckhart Tolle made a killing with his book The Power of Now. That's great and all, but in a transcendent moment of awareness, I've become aware of another great, inspirational life lesson, which I am titling The Power of Silly!
Late one recent night, following a difficult day (and a few martinis), I awoke in the middle of my slumber, staring at the ceiling in the darkness. The Universe suddenly spoke to me, in a magical moment of enlightenment. I think there was a Bananarama song in the background, of all things. I know what you're thinking - an average Joe getting a spiritual message from beyond. It must be something dreamt up as a result of the combination of sleep deprivation, alcohol and indigestion. And of course, that's probably all true.
But the message from above was quite clear. This - all of this - this vast and relentless repetitiveness of days, this unending succession of goals and aspirations, of relationships coming and going, food ingesting, digesting and divesting, in breaths, out breaths ... all of this, is really much ado about nothing. It's just life. And if you think about it, much of it is often pointless and often rather downright silly.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. . .
The grandness that is Shakespeare, in his theatrical glory, charming and enlightening his audience with "mewing and puking in the nurse's arms." Some of the most poignant literature of our history. While it is true we are all merely players, it occurred to me how incredibly silly of an image this was. And then it hit me: the full realization of the silliness of all things.
I told my daughter about my silly revelation, and being a teenager, she said, "can't it be another word? Humorous? Funny?" But no. That wasn't the word of universal enlightenment. The word?
Moses supposes his toeses are roses ...
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is. ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Naturally, none of us has time for silly. There is important work to be done. The economy is in the dumps. We need to focus our attention on this terrible, wretched problem ... which we know works because by focusing all our attention on this terrible, wrethed problem for the past three years, we've succeeded beyond our wildest nightmares of amplifying this terrible, wretched problem so much so that the downward trend has begun feeling like the freefall drop in the elevator on Disneyland's Tower of Terror.
Recently, I came across a site called Patently Silly, which details a large number of actual patents taken out by folks with an inordinate amount of disposable time that they've used to create and patent inventions that by most people's standards are downright goofy. Included in this list are:
- Not just edible underwear, but edible handbags, windbreakers and shoes - because once one is in the mood for food and sex, there can never be enough snacks...?
- Fishing lures in the shape of a human - for that vengeful trout who's been through catch and release one too many times.
- What to do with the remains of Aunt Edna? A combination wind chime and urn to remind you of her lyrical and breathy nature.
- For the truly lonely pet and human a pet operated ball thrower or a one-person see-saw ... because being alone is wonderful and all, except for those times when you just wish you could rock up and down with your butt on a board, but just don't have a partner ....
Weird Al's White and Nerdy
"A plastic surgeon's office the only place where no one gets offended when you pick your nose!" ~ Alfred E. Neuman
Some of my favorite silly reading growing up was the sketches from Mad magazine - so unexpected and irreverent. One of my books had a succession of questions and answers they titled Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, with entries such as:
Q: Did you catch that fish?
A: No, I talked him into giving himself up.
A: No, I was sitting here minding my own business when the crazy thing jumped into my pail.
A: No, it's a plastic model to get people like you to start fascinating conversations.
Q: (From lady to fellow bus-rider) Isn't my baby beautiful?
A: That's a baby?
A: Yes, in a Jabba-The-Hutt sort of way.
A: Yes, but not nearly as beautiful as this spit up on my coat.
Q: (from a waiter, to a husband and wife) Table for how many?
A: A hundred and twelve -- we like to change seats every few minutes.
A: One -- my wife will sit on my shoulders.
A: I don't know -- I can't count that high, either.
Q: (Person watching a trick) Am I supposed to pick a card?
A: No, you're supposed to pick your nose.
A: No, you're supposed to take all of them.
You get the picture. And people wonder how Gen Xers got to be so sarcastic!
Mad eventually turned it's craziness to MadTV, which produced such gems as the precurser to the newest Apple technology below:
Monty Python made an industry from simply being silly. The wonderful thing about them was that they took advantage of our expectation of British prudishness and turned it on its head. You never knew what to expect, from the cute attacking killer rabbit to the armless, legless bridge collector, to the Ministry of Silly Walks. And yes, there is an actual Silly Walks Generator, where you can invent your own silly walk, borrowing from the following Monty Python sketch:
The Ministry of Silly Walks
In the midst of the political turmoil of the last few Presidential elections came JibJab. JibJab created satirical pokes at the Schwarzenegger Gubernatorial election in California, of the Bush/Kerry and Obama/McCain battles, and can be counted on to continually come up with new goofy material to keep our perspective on the silliness that is our American electoral process:
And last but not least, what discussion over the Power of Silly would be complete without at least one entry from Saturday Night Live? The show that redefined TV, from the John Belushi days to Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock to Christopher Walken's cow bells and Alec Baldwin's schweaty balls to this Christmas gem with Justin Timberlake:
So, now you have been indoctrinated to the Power of Silly, expect to see my books, seminars, Oprah interviews and logowear at a store near you. The absurdity of people, events, news items, self-help books, road rage, cage fighting, dog shows, press conferences, Senate hearings, tea parties, bikini contests, militias, Burning Man, garlic-flavored ice cream, doggy boots, Botox, endless movies about Batman, hair removers and restoring creams, police tazers, sex addicts, televangelists, articles about Brad, Angelina and Jennifer, Smart cars, Sasha Baron Cohen movies, 100-mile marathons, pole dancing at the Olympics, Twitter, toast bearing the image of the Virgin Mary, Enron, Winnie the Poo ...
You get the picture.
So back to sleep I go, emboldened with this power of the ridiculous. Though I know not where the Power of Silly is taking me, I sense that this universal, all-knowing sense of goofiness knows the way. And there will be more absurdity tomorrow, more to laugh at, joke with, and otherwise mock. Join me, and have a pleasant tomorrow...
Oh, life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up
That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight, I'm
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why try?
That was just a dream
Just a dream, just a dream
- REM "Losing My Religion"