I would rather live…
In a trailer
That proverbial mobile homme
Seeing stars when roofs are razed
And nothing but realty at my back
As awe of creation is present
As I am
Looked down upon
Wading patiently fore that noonday star
When every real Job calls it a day
In a fool length feature
That mansion of a handbasket
With mirror interior decorating
Magnificent all the same
In funhouse pleasures
In efface of the bottom of men’s soles
Knowing not what frees us
Foolishness and wisdom look different and produce different results. Better to have a life well spent than merely saved. Conventional wisdom often mistakes comfort for happiness, a grand foolishness. High success and high status are virtually indistinguishable. As the addled adage goes: winning is everything. Wise souls are far too ardent and awe encompassing to abide only within the rules defined by one culture and one generation, one place and time. Wisdom is necessarily counterculture, precisely because it seeks to move that culture, any culture, to a greater wisdom. Acting within such a greater wisdom, not yet carrying the day, perhaps even amid night, often appears foolish. Acting “as if” something is true is an existential conundrum we all face if we want to be more than what we are now, if we want the world and the rules by which it acts to be more than what they are at any given time. Suspending disbelief is part and parcel for acting to perform its human artistry, and all of the world is a stage. There are great truths in stories that never happened. There are great truths in lives whose stories are bigger than one soul can live. About now, the postmodern brain must choose between serving only that within its reach or venturing to awe that the heart compasses. Fools are conventionally portrayed as having an addled brain, which is infinitely better than having an addled heart. This poem compares wholehearted living with merely existing — whatever the sum of our daze. A willingness to be viewed as a fool by the conventionally wise may very well be the difference between heaven and hell. Fools invite others into a better possible world, however improbable, not a theater of the absurd. Typically, others are busy doing something else, absurdly similar to those around them.
In contemporary times, live theater has largely been replaced by movies [dead theater?]. This poem compares living, in a movie trailer, to merely existing “In a fool length feature.” And as we all know, movie trailers are quite reliably better than the full-length feature.
One of the great dramas on life’s sufferings, unfulfilled longings, and doubt versus suspending disbelief is the story of Job in the Bible. As the ever-hopeful person that I am, I was reminded of Job 11:17 “Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning.” Such poetry! Here is the whole chapter, as the lineup of doubters mock Job’s enduring faith:
Are all these words to go unanswered?
Is this talker to be vindicated?
Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.’
Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above — what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below — what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.
If he comes along and confines you in prison
and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
Surely he recognizes deceivers;
and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
But the witless can no more become wise
than a wild donkey’s colt can be born tame.
Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.