There once was a Babylonian King who kept hurting his feet on sharp rocks when he would walk through his kingdom. After a particularly bad incident that cut open his foot, he ordered that his entire kingdom be covered in fine linens. The king sought to carpet the world.
Realizing the potential of the task to bankrupt the kingdom and become a laughing stock everywhere else, one savvy advisor hastily pulled the king aside and suggested,
“Your Majesty, why don’t we start by carpeting your feet?”
And bingo bango, sandals were born.
I forgot where I first heard this story. Seems like something from an Alan Watts book.
I’ve thought about this parable a lot this year. On one hand, the volume of a lot of social issues has turned up, enough for those who claimed they weren’t problems to be shaken out of it, myself included.
On the other, the personal hurt involved with so much social unrest seems to cloud logical solutions. We have to hate everyone in order to punish some. I get it, social issues are held by societies and saying, “Okay sure not every single white person or man but that’s not really the point, is it, it’s the social programming that we have to dismantle that allows people from those groups to persist in violent or discriminatory behavior, and that's what makes this different than when we're saying you can't hate all muslims or black people” isn’t exactly the catchiest chant.
But you know, it still feels wrong.Maybe this is from my past that I can’t let go the idea that blanketing any group of people with assumptions, for whatever reason, is wrong.
Maybe not even wrong, just not useful, because it’s going to be harder to get (Group A) to get (Group B) on their side by abstracting the problems perpetrated by (Group B). Not everyone identifies themselves the way you see them.
In terms of these issues, it’s very hard for me to figure out the difference between carpeting the world and carpeting one’s feet. Not all the time, suggesting that racism is a demonstrable problem that you can’t deal with by saying “I have a friend who’s black” seems like a reasonably safe assumption.
When it comes to patriarchy, assault and feminism, I won’t lie to you. I have no fucking clue what goes where. I don’t like the “Men are scum” reactions but I’ll grant you it’s bullshit that women get more stringent punishments for saying that than men do fo saying “women are whores.” It’s discrimination, but it’s a weird battle to pick.
Who the fuck knows.
I know that when the Me Too Hashtag started, I was pretty cynical from all of it. I was pretty bitter from my experience of overzealous feminists in Denver and more jaded by the scope of the problem I saw by traveling across the US. Every place was different, shades of being socially inept were threaded together with latent or overt acts of sexism. Social media is not my favorite platform to take a stance, either. There’s a lot of huff, and puff, and boy am I brave enough to knock a house down.
But Me Too caused a lot of women to open up and I got to see that. I also got to see men realize that they had a part in it. Not just by being a generally decent person who doesn’t fuck over women, but recognizing that they could say, “Dude, you’re fucked up,” to a friend of theirs who systematically hurt women. There were a lot of conversations that I’d never seen happen before, and I was grateful for that. For a little while, we were centered together.
Then more people came forward about public figures, which caused arguments about moral panic, what happened if women were lying, what were the implications of acting like they weren’t, and more. We went back to abstracting one another into two groups, and each group more stubborn than ever about their views. Everything felt so calloused again. The cycle continued and everything felt even harder.
I don’t really know how to handle these kinds of situations. I’ve never been a political person before. I don’t think I can really say that about myself now, but I have to admit, it’s hard to feel like I’ll stay safe if I don’t reach out and stab something once in awhile. Net Neutrality got repealed and that was a huge loss that didn’t have the same kind of ire with it that I saw with feminism, though the dry, long term part of my brain knows how potentially difficult this will make campaigning, canvassing and social awareness in a few years.
All of this is just the setting. It’s not the story. Not for me. I almost didn’t make two articles this month because I’ve been busy/homeless/depressed/lucky/working on what I want. On a personal level, this year has felt as tumultuous as it’s seemed on the news. Maybe that’s why all the issues have seemed so big, I had no personal stability to anchor me to anything else.
I lived in a car for two months this year with Sweetboy. We slept in Walmart parking lots, in hot, muggy fields to the sound of what I can only assume was a lot of bug fucking, we crashed on a few couches and in a motel that noted refunds were not given if you only wanted the room for an hour. I have a lot of stories bound up in my brain right now, but I don’t have any time to tell them. I’ve pushed as hard as I could to do comedy and sometimes at night, when I can’t get myself to fall asleep, I feel consumed by the fear that I am wasting my time.
Now I’m at the end of the year, struggling to get this one last article in so I can meet my writing goal that I’d set up two years ago, when I first realized I was lost. I was so lost that I kept drawing different paths from the spot I was standing until any map I could have made was useless.
I finally pulled myself out of that tangled knot of many paths, and now I’m here, in a place completely blank. It’s fitting, given the New Years’ resolution season. I don’t have anything to fill this with yet. I’ve only just come out of the mess.
Normally I like to start a new year off with definitive goals. I don’t think I have them so neatly this time. At this point, I don’t know if I’ve carpeted my feet, the ground or just pulled the fabric over my head and I’m running around like a Pacman ghost, completely oblivious to any actual danger.
Christ, I really don’t know how to end it this time. I don’t think I have any great life lessons. I’m less sure of everything than I’ve ever been. I keep wanting to tap people on the shoulder and go, “Sorry, I’m new here. What the fuck is going on?”
I wouldn’t have gotten through the hard times in my life without the people I’ve had in it. It’s hard when sometimes you have to cut people out that you care about or let people in that you’re not sure if you do. The boundaries aren’t as simple as the one between the rocky ground and the soles of our feet.
Something something something positive note. Happy New year. Get drunk unless that means something awful for you. Thank you for reading this blog. It means a lot to me that you do.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.