January 7, 2018
by Doug “Uncola” Lynn:
The words in the title of this piece are not my own. Believe it or not, these are the words of actor and comedian, Jim Carrey, from the end of the video below. It inspired this essay.
Quite often, I find myself considering what is called the ripples-in-the-pond effect. Like throwing a rock into a smooth body of water, the action (throwing the rock) creates a splash (consequence) that in turn releases ensuing vibrations (reactions) that ripple across the allegorical pond; which, I believe represents the fabric of space-time. By this definition there are many variables that are enjoyable to think about. The size of the rock or the number of throws, or actions, involved. For every splash, there are consequences; for good, or bad.
Another interesting construct for these considerations is called the Butterfly Effect. This is when a tiny butterfly flaps it little wings which then creates a chain of events that lead to a hurricane, or typhoon, on the other side of the earth. Whether by throwing rocks or flapping wings, both are seemingly small individual efforts generating domino effects with their own subsequent ramifications. I enjoy contemplating these symbolizations because they reinforce my belief in the individual while, simultaneously, describing the individual’s effect on others within the matrix of a universally connected macrocosm.
If I strive for good, you, who are reading this, just might benefit. Or, if I choose wrong, you will not. Personally, I find meaning in these possibilities.
The video below made me think of my college roommate. He died this time of year not too long ago; in the dead of winter. Back during our college days, we would often converse in our dorm room. Sometimes we would talk into the wee hours of the morning. About our hopes and dreams, our future plans, and girls. He was a good-looking dude and dated some very attractive babes. Since he was so much better looking than I, I would tease him about that.
We had many funny stories. Like one time he was dating this perfect ten and she would come over to clean our dorm room. She would make our room shine and sparkle, except for my stuff on the floor. She wouldn’t touch my things and I was fine with that. I thought she was way too controlling, anyway, and my roommate and I would laugh about it in our late evening discussions.
My college roommate told me things that no one else knew and I did likewise. His father died in an automobile accident when he was only six. This was common knowledge for those who knew him, but I was one of a few, if any, who really knew what that was like for him growing up.
In any case, we both graduated college and enjoyed success in our respective careers. His wife was also a college friend of mine and I remained in contact with them through the years. My old college roommate blossomed into a Donald Draper -type of businessman and I enjoyed seeing his career skyrocket. He joined all of the clubs and associations that I avoided like the plague and he became very well known in his community. He also liked to party. He drank a lot. Because of that I also witnessed his epic fall from grace; and the years that ensued.
I was one of his only friends who stuck with him to the bitter end. I first watched him lose his career and his family. Then later I saw him become broke and homeless on his way to dying alone in an efficiency apartment that I obtained for him. He was 52 years old.
I saw him a week before he died. His eyes were clear that night and he was in good humor. He said he joined a church. But, just days later, the apartment complex’s manager called me upon discovering my old college roommate’s body. He died from organ failure due to alcohol. It was not the future he’d planned.
Looking back, I realize there were signs before the beginning of his end. When I commented on the dent in the front fender of his car that he never got fixed, he just said someone hit him and he was too busy to get it repaired. Sometimes, we both drank whiskey behind my house and watched the sunset. He never wanted to talk about his wife and kids after a certain point, and I didn’t push. I could see the amount he drank, but wrote it off as a remorseful phase that he would overcome when he was ready.
One time when I was helping him move into my city, he informed me he was in a twelve-step program. Another time he became agitated and he told he “needed a meeting”. I didn’t understand that at the time.
One summer evening he rode with me to visit my Dad who was dying in a care facility. When I got to Dad’s room, I walked over and gave him a hug. When I turned around, my old college roommate had tears in his eyes. I didn’t say anything about that and afterwards we went to Hooters. This was all before I knew he was an alcoholic.
In chapter five of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it speaks to those who are unable to benefit from the AA “Twelve Step Program” because they lack the capacity to be honest with themselves. I believe this was my friend’s problem. I wanted to understand and I believe it was his unwillingness to face himself, especially in light of the insanity of his alcoholism. In retrospect, I also believe his pride played a part. In any case, I had no idea how to help him. Today, when I look back on it all, I am pretty sure I did the opposite of helping him: I enabled him. Alcoholics and addicts increase their substance abuse in the face of rising consequences. I should have known.
My old college roommate died around the same time as my Dad and around that time I began to question my own life. I wondered if I was perhaps a little too proud of my material things. Maybe I wanted too much to believe in the illusion of retirement that I knew would never be there for me in my old age; unlike my Dad. I feared for my family and the unknown.
For many years, I had considered what was going on in our country and world, and I measured the overall consequences and momentum of events. Having a knack for planning and strategy, I could usually figure out the most efficient way(s) to get from “point A” to “point B”. But when it came to the forthcoming future, I began to see “dead ends” at every turn; war, economic hardship, and extreme privation. For a while, these contemplations caused a sort of a paralysis in my life. I was paralyzed not from turning away from truth, but from facing it squarely, looking outward; from considering future options and seeing no way out.
The rocks had been cast. The splashes were coming; only to be followed by inescapable, painful tsunamis.
In time, however, I began to recognize the pride behind my fears; and how, like my old college roommate, a type of pride that led to resentments and anger. Beneath all mad is sad and underlying both is fear. I began to think about faith; how faith without works is dead. In my own case, therefore, faith became right action; deeds more than words. I also recalled something I heard (or read) from the Bible about “clothing oneself with humility”. I realized when I got up every morning and got dressed, I should throw on a heaping dose of humility. Even if I didn’t feel humility, I could choose to take humble actions like I chose to get dressed that morning. In so doing, I began to see how the matrix was much bigger than me.
All I have to do is try my best every day. Seek truth, speak the truth to the best of my ability, and take right action in the hopes it will benefit others; including some I may not ever know.
I’ve not been one to give Jim Carrey much thought, other than some of his movies. I watched The Number 23 last summer on Netflix and even turned it into a post out here in the interwebic blogosphere. It is possible this was the reason I was sensitized to the following video which I just happened to see on another blog (i.e. – the ethernetic pond) yesterday.
The video is 5:38 in length. 5 x 3 = 15. 15 + 8 = 23.
Connections are everywhere. Even if we only see what we want to see, I know it is all way bigger than me.