Wednesday, June 13, 2007
disneytunnels and fig leaves, part 1
we lose innocence. that's absolutely part of the way life works. adam and eve learn right and wrong, good and evil. they see bigger than they did before. they become complicated. so does their life. pain enters their life - responsibility, raising children, working for a living, worry about survival.
but before that, it is eden. when something intrudes - the serpent, pain, loss, things that children aren't prepared to process emotionally or mentally - the innocence may just be dented a bit, or it may be lost. paradise lost.
when my wife's parents took leslie and me and our two kids to disney world years ago, the kids were little and it was absolutely magic. they carried little notebooks and the people in disney character makeup and costumes signed their notebooks. everyone was ridiculously nice. the streets and sidewalks were immaculate. all the big things - buildings, rides, shops, decorations - being beautiful and fun and carefully designed, every little detail (trash can, bench, light pole, light switch) was perfect - themed according to the area it was in.
the cynic in me says that it was creepy. fake. contrived. artificial. the innocent in me loved it. it was beautiful. simple. nice. like a good peaceful restful dream. i know that both are true. it is contrived. it exists to make lots of money. it also exists to give people a break and have some fun. is that bad? i don't know. disney world isn't True - it's Fake - so, is that good or bad?
when i was a young man, realizing that the world wasn't eden/magic, and pissed off about it, and really really pissed off that the perfect people i had trusted weren't so perfect after all, i was snide. tacky. cocky. well-educated. sarcastic. cool. it was a mask, to hide my pain, grief, fear. like a suit of armor, made of fig leaves. i had realized that since the world wasn't eden, i was naked. the hebrew word in genesis for "naked" connotes "vulnerable."
i don't really wear that mask very often anymore. i prefer kindness and compassion. i feel compassion for those east of eden, including myself. it's a bitch, but it just is. there's no point in trying to make it back to eden. a warrior angel with a flaming sword guards the gate. maybe it's that i don't feel quite as vulnerable or naked anymore. maybe it's that i've realized i am stronger than i thought - that the loss of innocence is simply an initiation into the possibilities that an adult has and a child can never have. i prefer as much reality as i can take, a step/bite/awakening at a time. it's okay. it's scary, but it's good. it is good. i absolutely believe that.
and it's nice - no, it's absolutely necessary - to read a book and relax. sit and look at the stars, or the moon, or trees. there's a matrix that the system built to keep us believing that if we work hard enough and do the right things and figure out the answer, we can return to eden. the matrix. success. the Law. whatever. i have come to believe that there is no such thing. there is only here, and now, in this moment, and that's not only good enough, it's good, period. there's nothing that needs to be done. the kingdom of god is present.
and, the kingdom of god, as jesus embodied it, isn't a magic kingdom. it's not perfect. it's full of brokenness and the silliness and humanness and confusion of us human beings. and it is better than perfect, better than magic, better than falsely constructed; it is good.
interesting fact: at disney world's magic kingdom, in the park itself where guests are walking around, there's no trash being transported, no costumed people moving from one part of the park to another, no trucks, nothing support-related, visible. that's because there are tunnels underneath everything, and unmarked or hidden doors leading to them. walt didn't want a cowboy from frontierland walking through tomorrowland. i'm sorry, but that rocks. that concern for creating an edenic experience is what makes it work.
one website i looked at noted that "No guest under 16 is allowed in the tunnel system because it would bother children, seeing two Goofys passing each other, Mickey without a head, seeing Minnie eating with Snow White, and ruin the magic." http://www.ekday.com/blog/files/8036d653b430ffa276d8767dde659c06-28.html
i am not a child, and i think that would be a hoot.
does it suck to be the person who sweeps, takes out the trash? yes. that's the subject of part 2.
(a person who had recommended taking hallucinogenic mushrooms and enjoying the Magic Kingdom posted on his blog, "hint: never bring illicit chemicals INSIDE the park. rumors abound of tunnels leading directly to the Anaheim police station through an underground tunnel below Tom Sawyer's island, including murals of Mickey and co. in tears being handcuffed. always consume in the parking lot and walk in empty handed. cameras are everywhere." .............................. that's funny shit right there.)