Learn to orbit. Become the world’s audience. Don’t be a bitter baby.

A NY Times Opinion piece (click HERE) by philosopher Brian Jay Stanley re-discovers the necessity for a Copernican revolution of the self which demands the re-relativizing of one’s place in the universe… You know, the same old thing.

I enjoy pieces like this, that start out with a witty pull toward desperation, and finish with a balanced wisdom of the ages.  He’s put upon by life, annoyed at his insignificance in the scheme of things. I’m tempted to say he “somehow” finds peace, or poetically trips onto pretty words of truth.  His awareness is much more studied, though. After looking at his website, I find Stanley’s wisdom is earned through toil and hard looking, deep reflection and sometimes scary reverie. He brings to mind David Foster Wallace, which brings up lots of sadness for me, and some of the cutting performer/comics like Lenny Bruce or Louis C.K., George Carlin and the best stand-up yet, F. Nietzsche.

If you’re not going to read the whole piece, at least dig the penultimate paragraph:

Society is adroit at disillusioning newcomers, and many self-assured children grow up to be bitter adults. But bitterness, instead of a form of disillusionment, is really the refusal to give up your childhood illusions of importance. Ignored instead of welcomed by the world, you fault the world as blind and evil in order not to fault yourself as naïve. Bitterness is a child’s coddling narcissism within the context of an adult’s harsh life. Instead, I know that the world only tramples me as a street crowd does an earthworm — not out of malice or stupidity, but because no one sees it. Thus my pain is not to feel wrongly slighted, but to feel rightly slighted.

So today if I can muster the joy, I’ll have gratitude as my attitude. Today, I’ll try not to be so bitter. Today, my narcissism will be that of an adult, not a baby’s. Today, I’ll remember to (as someone stenciled on the wall by the Silver Lake Reservoir) “Laugh at this experience.” Today I’m going to be the audience, and enjoy the show.

Watch out, that Secret can make your fingers sticky!

The other day I was at Staples, sending a fax. I’d brought my daughter along, and she was admiring the cameras while I waited in line to pay a little more than two dollars. As I waited, I recalled the scene in the 1972 film Paper Moon where the 9 year old girl and her partner pulled a con on a saleslady.

The man pays with a large bill, which was marked on the back “Happy Birthday Addie.” When the girl comes later to pay for her candy, she pays with a 5-spot, and gets her $4.75 change. As she counts her change, she tells the lady that she’s been short-changed, that she’d paid with a 20 dollar bill. The saleslady corrects the girl, the girl cries and creates a noisy scene. The manager comes and digs out the 20 which Addie tearfully tells him has her name on it, which he sees, and commands the saleslady to give her $19.75 and another piece of candy.

As I was waiting for my change for the 20 I gave the very nervous, very young cashier, Paper Moon playing in my mind, I idly wondered, “What if this guy thought I gave him a 50 dollar bill? It would be so cool to come up on some extra free money, buy my daughter something…” I watched him count me out $47.22 in change, “–and 22 cents makes 50. Thanks and have a nice day — Next!”  I walked away, stunned, counting the money. The receipt showed I’d given him a 50, I was instantly a much richer man.

And suddenly I was a bad man. A magical and manipulative man! A dangerous Secret-wielding man, using the law of attraction to come up on some cash and possibly get a kid fired from his new job. There he was with brand new Dickies, a stiff black belt, creases still in his uniform shirt, sweat on his pimply brow, probably his first day. He was clueless to his mistake, and helpless to my power.

I gathered my girl, and told her to watch her daddy save a guy’s job and Do The Right Thing (in righteous capital letters).  He was grateful, but smart enough to keep it low profile. I wonder if he’d ever seen a 50 dollar bill in his life, when was the last time and aren’t they kind of odd? And where do you put the 50’s and the 100’s in the register? Under the change drawer, with the checks, as I remember — so what the hell was he thinking? Apparently whatever I wanted him to think.

I had inadvertently attracted money I actually wanted into my life, but in a way I did not know I was capable.  It would have been evil — or at least sleazy — of me to keep the money, and I believe would have only attracted more misery, later. I’m glad I didn’t have to keep it as a dirty little secret. I wouldn’t have been able to share the con here with you, but only with the shadiest of my friends in the criminal underworld, where my daughter and I would have undoubtedly tail-spun down into…

So watch out for what you ask for, and keep track of what you believe in, cause what you ask for could fall into your hands in the weirdest way, when you least expect it.

Knowing where things are

A wise man recently told me a story which required a close telling of his daily routine, and in passing mentioned he shaves in the shower. Being a wise man, I thought he would give me a great recommendation on one of those cool in-the-shower mirrors that don’t fog up, so I asked him, so I could get what wise men have. He goes, “Bah! I don’t need a mirror, I know where everything is.” I don’t remember the rest of his story, but I got that I needed to pay more attention to knowing where things are.