WARNING, a blatant and oversimplified generalization is about to follow. You may or may not recognize the fault of personality with which I am going to whitewash the entire human race. It doesn’t matter. Call me Tom Sawyer and pass me a brush.*
People learn lessons very slowly. In my case, make that very, very slowly and with rerun episodes that are so familiar I can practically recite the dialogue by heart. The reason I mention this is that today was a prime example of my tendencies of running myself into a rail and then over the edge of a cliff. I would say I didn’t see the warning signs …but that would be a lie. I practically ran the sign over as I sped Thelma and Louise-style toward the abyss. The sad part? I was trying to reach a perfect state of Zen.
(FreeDigitalPhotos.net, James Barker)
It might help if I explained my brain to you for a moment. Uh…perhaps a visual would help. Imagine a giant warehouse somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Even GPS can’t find this spot with any accuracy. Now picture this building stuffed to the rafters with squeaky hamster wheels, rusting in place because all the little hamsters died of starvation while the owner was lost looking for kibble. That is my brain…oh…and it’s located on a fault line that occasionally threatens to suck the entire works into a massive sinkhole. In other words, I live a frantic existence. Now, back to the search for Nirvana.**
I will sometimes have one of my hamsters spring to life. (Side note: these are zombie hamsters and are not to be trusted out of their cage!) The zombie hamster will insist that I absolutely need to do something like, say, learn how to make an origami lotus flower. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfMGjjW4avc] I will search for a how-to video and I will immediately plunk down hard earned cash on the most expensive paper you will ever find. It might have been cheaper to make lotus flowers out of actual currency, if dollars came in the right dimensions. I followed the step-by-step instructions and, voila, success. I made a perfect replica of the one on the video. I am the Queen of Arts and Crafts. All bow down. The zombie hamsters are activated by this achievement and immediately start churning out all kinds of ideas: Maybe we could make a bunch of these flowers, figure out how to laminate or waterproof them and turn them into floating lotus lanterns and host a summer river festival of lights. You will be happy to note, the other zombie hamsters captured and ate the one that produced that idea. Yes, they are cannibalistic zombie hamsters. It saves on buying kibble.
Now, you may be wondering why I insist that this beautiful and perfect moment was such a disaster? Allow me to explain. Once one zombie hamster has risen it makes more zombie hamsters…that is its sole motivation. After the idea to create floating lanterns died a grisly death, the zombies got together and decided… “If she can make origami lotuses, she should be able to make ANY kind of origami flower.” So I am back at the YouTube altar, trying to find a way to make roses. How hard can it be to make roses? Do you want to know HOW hard it is to make an origami rose? I’ll tell you how [expletive deleted] hard it is…Making origami roses is harder than raising hamsters from the dead. It is also as far from approaching Nirvana as you can get. I tried four videos with different instructors. I folded, I crimped, I re-folded, I re-ran the 18-minute video (I kid you not) trying to recreate what these disembodied hands made as if they were manipulating the dna of the paper to transmogrify it into a rose in full bloom. I failed, repeatedly and spectacularly. The zombie hamsters were booing and goading me to find a better video. Things were getting ugly.
I was getting frustrated. “Why can’t I make the stupid fold slide into the slot the way the guy on the video is doing it?” I was aggravated and the zombie hamsters were running amok. Meanwhile, in the background my poor son has restarted his favorite concerto for the 330 millionth time and I just SNAPPED. I yell at my son. I threaten to melt the CD if I have to hear it one more time. I just absolutely lose it. My son ran off to his room crying. Even the zombies laid down and pretended to be dead.
And this is the moment when perfect clarity strikes. I should have stopped at success. Success for me is a recipe for disaster. I’ve done this before.
I once played a carnival game that I now know is so stacked against the player the odds of winning are probably astronomically against it. I am not sure, I do not have Stephen Hawking on speed dial to corroborate. The game involved throwing quarters and having them land in a square on the board. Sounds easy, right? (The zombie hamsters applaud.) Well, in my case, it was. There was this stuffed unicorn I wanted so badly, I could taste it. I had a few dollars in my pocket burning to be thrown away. I plunk down a dollar and I get my four quarters. The first quarter lands in a square with a 3 in the middle. The man frowns. “Okay, you got a three. That will get you a prize in this row here.” He points to the worthless crap that even zombie hamsters would turn their noses up at. I point up to the delicate and beautiful unicorn floating overhead. “I want that one.” The guy, probably used to whining, sniveling brats, just says, “The unicorn is 7 points. You need four more points.” I get out my next quarter and boom, it lands in a box with an X. Now, if I have failed to mention it, the quarter has to land exactly in the center of the box. The box has a relative dimension just a hair past of the width of a quarter. I look up at the man and say, “What’s the X stand for?” I swear, he looked at me like I had two heads. “That’s worth four.” He reaches up and grabs the unicorn and hands it to me. I take my unicorn, ecstatic to a degree that I have never quite managed again in my life, and I am about to turn away when one of my hamsters (they aren’t dead at this point) squeaks: “Maybe you can win more?” I turn back, and plunk a few more dollars worth of quarters on the board and every single one of them misses. The man in the booth says, “Maybe you should just stick with what you already got.”
To this day, that is probably the best advice I have ever been given. What a shame zombie hamsters just don’t listen.
You would think that, knowing I am ruled by undead rodents and knowing they are pernicious little fu… that is to say, annoying little pricks, I would cut their tiny heads off and leave them on stakes as a warning to all the other mad ideas that try to crawl from the crypt. You’d think that wouldn’t you. Sadly, I often feel helpless in the face of the zombie hordes. It can take reaching a point of insanity for one of them to raise its little paw and say, “Uh, Boss. You might want to reel it in. You’re scaring your family and mangling the origami. Maybe it’s time to give it a rest?”
What have we learned from today’s lesson, kiddos? If at first you succeed…stop. Oh…and if someone offers to teach you how to fold an origami rose…RUN. Don’t Walk. Or the Zombie Hamsters will be eating your brains too.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*For those of you who are wincing, thinking, “But Tom avoided the responsibility of painting the fence by tricking someone else to do it. That analogy makes no sense.” You are correct. You are also welcome to go rant about it on your own blog
**Not the band by Kurt Cobain, but instead, the state of peace achieved by reaching a perfect stillness of the mind…but not a space filled with dead hamsters either.