Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Table crashes and joy

I am a fan of the tv show "3rd Rock from the Sun".  It is a comedy that is imaginative in my view, even when it is silly and not too funny.  Four aliens are sent to Earth to learn about life here and report back to the leader , "the Big Giant Head".  The characters, earthlings and aliens, are exaggerated but clever.

Last night we watched episode 22 in the 4th season. The only woman, the out-of-it guy and the teen (actually the eldest of the crew but required for their mission to be a teen in a teen body) go out to a restaurant.  The host wants to sit them at a different table but they want their usual one. While they argue, a huge chandelier crashes the usual table, destroying it and its chairs. This sheds instant light for our group on what we would call "mortality" and the appreciation of life.  Suddenly, they grasp the value of being alive, of having each other. They can see the beauty in a paper clip and in just seeing and hearing at all.

John Lithgow plays the main character and his character cannot stand to miss out on anything, especially when he sees the others are transported by the charms of this life.  His speciality is becoming obnoxious rapidly and he does, while fretting over what he can't seem to see or feel about a paper clip and anything else he is already "familiar" with.

This morning, I got my first look at "The Book of Joy", a NY Times bestseller by the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu and Douglas Abrams.  It was recommended by Susan Hopkins in the Quaker workshop on the Psalms. The Chinese-American Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan has a book called "Joy on Demand" and it is about just that: how to feel real joy whenever you want.  

Episode 22 of season 4 shows that you will do better if you relax and if you don't expect to be in a state of joy all the time.  Generalized joy is great, but so is getting the dusting done and the grass cut. So is commiserating with your friend who has suffered a serious loss.  Was it Jesus who advised moderation in all things?

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