Uncle Morty is writing another post today. Please remember: he’s dead. He rambles a bit. It can’t be helped. And he’s a little morbid and melancholy – which his doctor says is normal for a person in his condition.
I think his topic today is Fear and Nostalgia. Seems like an odd pairing but things bump and rattle around that empty skull of his without the boundaries of brain tissue to keep them from colliding. Sometimes it’s interesting. I’m off to write some Whistlestop stories. Have fun with Uncle Morty.
Here begins the blog post of Uncle Morty: (by Uncle Morty)
Now that I’m dead, I note something interesting about flesh - skin and bones and nerves
and meat, all connected, indissoluble - that something is FEAR.
I’m not talking about the delicious kind of fear with which we tease our bodies by riding roller coasters or seeing movies starring some of my friends. I’m talking about the underlying bodily fear that dogs our every move (when we’re alive – really there are some advantages to being on my side of the question).
One doesn’t notice when embodied because one must always experience the soul through the skin. The flesh filters reality through a rippling net of emotion and never stops to consider the subjectivity of its interface. And one thing that underlies all flesh at every moment is fear. One function of flesh is to provide for its own survival. Like a traitor to your highest aspirations the flesh must interject the fear of dissolution into every experience.
Oh...I know it’s difficult to believe…and I know many brave humans live lives of courage and honor in spite of it. But until the last nerve quivers to a final halt, you will never understand this most basic of human emotions…the underlying filter…the need for safety that helps you make every decision, illuminating life in sharp relief, light and shadow. It’s only after the clarity of death that you can see the pervasive nature of this pressing emotion.
And this basic fact of human nature, if unacknowledged, leads down strange pathways in search of safety. One thing I notice, of late, in your culture is the steady and hypnotic attraction of nostalgia. I see people speak in glowing terms of their own childhoods as golden ages of peace and superior child raising techniques. I hear people speak of eras dead and gone as times of peace and prosperity, reaching heights of spirituality and manners – even when those times included the subjection of whole segments of the population as slaves or second class citizens or considered half the population to be property. Oh yes…your Puritans were pretty in the Thanksgiving pictures in your school books, but where are the pictures of them whipping the Quakers out of town?
I’ve lived a long time my children and I can tell you that the golden age is always beyond grasp…either in the past or the future. That gold won’t shine in the present. But I want to do more than disabuse you of your fantastic notions that somewhere sometime on this old earth there was nothing but safety and protection. I want to tell you what drives you to this island of nonsense. It’s fear. And fear particularly drives us into the past. The future is for the radical, the mad optimist. The past is for the fearful.
The past is safe. It’s over. The children who tormented you have gone away. Your father – whose belt tore your flesh and left scars on your body and your mind – is gone. You now understand his bewilderment, his inability to control life and the fear for the flesh of his flesh that pressed him into punishment, into making your world as small and safe as he could make it. The mistakes that you made – remember when you drove your car through the fence because you were tired and you’d been up all night at a party – those mistakes that could have killed someone, including you, by the grace of God or random chance, those mistakes left you standing. However it happened, the past has been lived through. It has walls and boundaries. It is a fortress of concrete and steel that can never be assailed by the winds of change.
How many dystopias have been created, not by the breaking down of walls of the present to let the future flood in, but by trying to build walls around the present, and to paper them over with images of the past?
Unfortunately this is a pipe dream. The past was once the present, rife with choices and possibilities, with more horror and more happiness than any one person could experience. Were you to be lifted to a point previous on the timeline and allowed to experience it from that vantage point, the same fear would grip you; the same choices would have to be made.
There is no escape from fear only ways to avoid looking at it for a few moments. Indulge but don’t become addicted.