It seems to me that this early into the new year the theme that we have been experiencing is loss.
Working backwards, let's begin with last night's lottery which is the granddaddy of experiencing loss.
For the last few months, we've been on an upward trend of converting the entire country into a Vegas roulette wheel -- with the very same odds. Most of us last night crapped out. All those long lines of ticket buyers: a bust.
So now we have to pack up our cardboard suitcases and return to the hum drum 9-5 existence of our general existence.
Then came the arrival of the Blackstar in the form of a suddenly dead David Bowie. That one really rocked the cradle that rocked because if anything, he has been a presence (actually that is all he has ever been to virtually all of us) for 50 years. Losing him was like watching a bridge or giant stadium suddenly turned into incompressible dust by a massive explosion of the saddest kind of dynamite.
Today, before we even got to celebrate the Oscars (which I like to call the O Scars!) we were greeted today with the slap-in-your-face brutal news of the death of Alan Rickman.
Alan was one of those rare actors whose voice you simply felt compelled to imitate, like Jimmy Stewart and Cagney before him. His sound was a symphony of music. No surprise that one of his greatest films was Truly, Madly, Deeply. He WAS a cello.
I am always captivated by the illusions that we create which Hollywood is the master of. It continually produces images of people that we think we know, and Alan was one of the more special ones who created a feeling of charm and intimacy. You felt like if you bumped into him in say, a restaurant, he would magically know as much about you as you did him.
Personally, I hate that he had to die hard. Fuck you, cancer. Come on, Biden -- go get em!
Today we dealt with the Oscar nominations as well -- another fantasy humanitarian award that means so little that by the morning after you are already asking: "Who won Best Supporting?"
To me, unless you are Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep or even Jennifer Lawrence, the best acting nomination means in this one, rare instance, you picked right. You won that nomination lottery. And as for the winners, most of the time the Oscar curse begins and down you slide into the pool of Cuba Gooding and Adrian Brody and god knows who else has won who have gone on to not much.
So to recap: Unless you were either married to, fathered by or befriended personally by Alan Rickman and David Bowie: the illusion of loss -- which by the way can feel exactly like the real thing -- has struck yet again in just a few short days.
The lottery: come on, you knew the odds. And yet you played it anyway. I played it. Because after 30 minutes spent with Lester Holt fantasy is the only thing that can wipe out the cold hard reality of ISIS, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
Besides, fantasy has a valuable purpose. We begin our lives entrenched in it. Our reality begins with dress up, Santa Claus, and fairy tale stories read to us in the self-contained glittering bubbles of our optimistic bedrooms.
Little by, as we grow up, we begin, involuntarily, to scrape away the ceiling stars and sweep away the tossed confetti of our everyday dream parade.
In other words, loss is built right into our growing patterns.
Eventually, death comes a knockin' and we spend most of our lives no different than Little Orphan Annie as we try to convince ourselves that the sun will come out tomorrow.
And we do that because we are evolutionarily wired for optimism. It's our natural inclination to say, "Everything is going to be alright," which pretty much has the same odds as the lottery.
But we believe fervently in that cause simply because we need to. We have to. Without the hard wiring of optimism we would shoot ourselves the second that we burned our bagel or forgot to record Survivor.
And there is really nothing wrong with that. We American-types prefer our endings well done, gift wrapped and happy.
That kind of instant satisfaction comes in real handy while we try to ignore the fact that in this massive universe of ours, we are deeply and most profoundly alone; that life itself in all probability is nothing more than one massive, Big Bang-sized fluke.
We turn to the stars and instead of being plagued by all the unanswerable questions, we romance those little glittery gas bastards and even sing songs and write passionate poetry about them -- which is exactly what we do with the Hollywood brand of star. We romance them too, even though we know them about as intimately as any actual star in the cosmos.
We are usually, in this country, unified by one of two things: the extremes of sudden tragedy or the near delirious, irrepressible and spontaneous need to celebrate a float bound sports team that has just won a "world" championship.
2016 has already become one of the most challenging years ever -- and it is only two weeks old. And it began in the wake of the Paris and California terrorist murders.
More loss is coming, folks. It is the one guaranteed alarm-clock style wake-up call, which will temporarily rouse us out of our hibernating caves, so we can stumble out of our caves to look directly into the very real sunlight for a few seconds... and then go right back to bed.
Perhaps to dream of another time. Another place.
Any place, but here.
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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