Getting My Monster On
By Jane Tawel
August 5, 2018
I am growing older and I would think that having had so many people in my life that I have loved, liked or been irritated by (sometimes all of those for the same person, of course, in the same moment), I would think –that I would think less about me and more about them. But I find I wake up each morning with myself immediately on my mind. And it is depressing. I feel depressed. I feel patched together, sort of like a “human-wanna-be”. When I look in the mirror or try to hold a conversation, or actually, try to move any part of my body including my eyebrows, I think to myself, this is what zombie movies are trying to tell us.
First of all, I am not keen on an old body. It doesn’t wake up well. Even after stretching while still lying in bed, even though I daily rejoice in good health and the ability to still do things I’ve always done, even if not as fast, my body, well – the song, “the old grey goose she ain’t what she used to be” comes to mind. My sister, Janet and I decided I shall now call what used to be my daily run, my daily “wog” – a sort of “interval training” of walking and jogging. Thankfully, I have always preferred to exercise alone because a wog is not a pretty sight. Unless you are a toddler wogging, and toddlers are cute no matter what. Although old people do have many traits in common with toddlers, like balance issues, speech issues, and potty issues, toddlers have change to look forward to, whereas old people have changes to dread.
Second of all, I am not that amazed by my mind. My mind is now a bit like the LPs I used to buy, scratched and skipping. Just like old records, old minds tend to repeat a lot too.
I am not especially happy with what people now call my “Legacy”. My personal Achievements? – well, mommy pigs raise their piglets with love and duck teachers inspire their little student ducklings. If animals can achieve it, then what sets my human achievements apart? I realized the other day it seems the only thing humans do in this day and age, even while hanging out with other humans, is to practice using their opposable thumbs. I mean, seriously, you look at a whole airport full of human beings holding these tiny little shiny rectangles and working their opposable thumbs like crazy and you think, well, shoot, Koko could do that! I think it is such a great joke that texting on cell phones is not done with our five fingers but with our two thumbs, making us all look a bit less human and a bit more apelike. This to me is one of the great proofs of my own theory of Devolution.
But ultimately what obsesses my ever increasing down -time thinking, is my disappointment and sadness with what I have done and not done with my soul. This would mean in catechism language, my sins of omission and commission. And be forewarned — I love, like, but am also irritated by those who would give me “pep talks” on this, or write up a nice little disclaimer to attach to these words of self-assessment. Thanks, but no thanks. Because frankly, any of us who try to learn more about what a good and worthy human is supposed to be must understand that the mirror is cloudy because we keep blowing hot air on it; and the glass is dim because we insist on using our own ego-framed spectacles and not God’s eyes, Christ’s view. Our souls have become more like Dr. Frankenstein’s machine created monsters than the God-imaged creative supervisors of a beautiful planet.
It would be humorous if it weren’t eternally damning to look at the Biblical injunctions we choose to take literally and compare them to the ones we choose to take metaphorically. We look at what we like and find personally useful about our own journey in our culture, society, situation, nation, or group and then pick and choose the things we like or don’t like in what God and The Christ have tried to teach us about living this thing we call “being human”. We argue about context and out of context issues as if we know what the hell – and I do mean hell as in the place – we are talking about and what the heaven – and I do mean heaven as in the place – the other person is talking about. And honestly, the more I look at what God has created on this planet and how we have abused our rights to it; and the more I look at what Jesus said about being human and how we have abused our rights to do humanness with other humans, I think, I am still completely upside down and trying to walk forward on just my head. And I can pretty much guarantee that we were not created to walk that way. We were, quite simply, to created to walk in love with God and others. But even our idea of what Love is has become a parody.
My son Gordon and I like the movie “Young Frankenstein”. One of the most famous scenes in the movie is when Gene Wilder, that great physician Frankenstein, is told by Igor, Marty Feldman, to “walk this way”. Feldman is a sort of monster with a hunchback and a limp. He of course means that Wilder is to follow him by coming “this way” but Wilder takes it in literal context and follows humorously behind Feldman by walking trying to imitate Igor’s limp and hunchback. We have as humans taken out of context what God means when He says to “walk this way”, and while we look in our own mirrors and see a human evolved to walking upright, God sees us as the devolved monsters our selfish souls reflect.
When God came to live among us, He had to take on the form of us and He asked us to imitate Him and walk this way. God, in Jesus, took upon Himself, a limp and a hunchback and by doing so He recreated what it means to be fully human. Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, Jesus did not create a monster but revealed to us what monsters we have become. We look on the physical in others and ourselves and see the monstrous there, while never seeing that the real limping monsters are internal. Unless we daily follow the path set out for our souls, we will keep imitating the wrong way to walk.
It seems silly and demeaning to choose to walk with a limp and hunched over, but that is the only way to walk as The Christ did. His last walk on this earth was hunched under a cross and He limped toward Calvary, condemned as a monster. “Father, forgive them; for they don’t really know what they are doing.”
If you wake up some mornings, or all mornings as I do, and aren’t quite sure what you are doing, what you have been doing this whole time on earth, and what tomorrow might mean that you can not do – then the Great Physician, Dr. Christ, has an impossible dream for you made possible only by following His quixotic example. The dream is made possible only by being recreated as a human being, born again. This means that if The Son of God, the perfect Human, spent His time on earth thinking about others, caring for others, loving others, healing others, dying for others, then if I want to live each day as a real human being, I need to believe that what He proved was possible is possible for all of us. To live is to die to self in order to live forever.
It is possible to think less about me and more about Him and more about them. I just need to retrain my way of walking and follow Him. I need to accept the beauty of a wog well lived, no matter what others think. I need to walk not this way; I need to walk The Way.
As I try today to get a view of this world from God’s upright position and not continue to see it while trying to walk on my head, it will, daily feel like I’ve been spun around dizzily like an old record on a turntable. I know I will look as awkward as my wog. But to be reborn, means that if I keep growing, I will eventually be a toddler. And toddlers are cute no matter how they walk.
It will hurt to walk with God’s limp instead of my own strident stride forward. It will seem that I am being silly and unrealistic to hunch my soul over in humility. I may even have to stop using my opposable thumbs so much and turn to the fellow human next to me and love them. But one advantage of being allowed to live as long as I have is the realization that in the final analysis, Jesus really had it right.
“Come, follow me,” says the God-man. “I am The Way. Walk The Way.”
Time to get my monster on.