Untwisting the Jounced About Bottle
You grab a bottle of soda and shake it up. You sit it on the counter. You know what’s going to happen when you untwist that cap.
Now imagine a truckload of bottles of soda, all shaken up at the same time, just ready to blow.
According the oddly named World Happiness Report, Americans are less happy (or more unhappy) than ever. The report, which has been released every year since 2012, surveyed one hundred fifty-six countries using six metrics: GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, the freedom to make life choices, social support, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.
And despite a having strong economy and low crime rates, the U.S. dropped in the rankings for the third straight year and is now the nineteenth happiest nation on Earth.
Like an entire nation of bottles shaken up and waiting to burst, showering anyone and everyone with the spew of anger and dissatisfaction.
I've been thinking a lot about those shaken up soda bottles lately — watching how incredibly uptight and entitled we are — and I'm thinking it goes a bit deeper than simply intellectual bullying or insistence on shaming people when they don't see eye to eye with us.
I continue to look around and realize that A) we all think we're really fucking important and B) we are incredibly uptight because we know, deep down in the dark snake mind, that we aren't.
In the grand scheme of things, most of us aren't all that much to crow about, historical significance-wise. When you consider that most of us can't name the totality of all forty-five presidents, the existence of someone not voted into the highest office of a just over 200-year old country on a planet filled with humans (with more and more every second) is laudable — you exist! — but hardly notable. But like a dog that can process reason and create imaginary fears, we sniff the asses of our neighbors, eat garbage, wallow in our own shit and then wonder about the meaning of it all.
Some of us have convinced ourselves that mankind is somehow specialer than other species. Deities (that strangely look like us) have created us individually for a divine destiny. Some are just out for ourselves, acquiring stuff and feeling entitled to our cable TV, Cheezits, Coca-Cola, and planning for our retirements when we no longer have to work that job that is the equivalent of being a Big Hairless Hamster in a Wheel. We are all the starring character in the movies of our lives and everybody around us are bit players that come and go and exist to fuel our own selfish narratives.
And yet we are reminded, time and time again, that Life isn't a movie and it really isn't about us. We are held hostage by the process of aging, by the dull cadence of days that drone on and on, by the ravages of Nature and these reminders that we are not in control make us create rules and structures and Society.
And when the people in the world do not behave by these rules, we pounce upon them, declare them deviant and either shame them into submission or destroy them entirely. Unfortunately, there are now so many people on the planet that, if one falls into the minority, like a Sneech without a Star, there isn't anyplace to go to hide from the majority and the majority Rules; and the Rules are stiff reminders of our desperate need to maintain control in a Planet simmering in Chaos and Destruction.
Sex should be between a man and a woman. Citizens should speak English. Drugs are evil. Germs are bad for you. Children are too fragile to leave the house. Aggression is wrong. Sex, even when between a man and a woman in consensual coitus, is wrong. The true worth of a man or woman resides in his or her bank account. Different is scary. Conformity is required. Credit scores matter. All life is precious except for the poor or the black or the ones with funny accents or odd names that sound like baby talk, clanging silverware or the menu at a Taco Bell. All [insert race or religion or sexual preference] people are easily stereotyped as being lazy or cheap or privileged or criminal or promiscuous.
The bottle is societally predisposed to be shaken and we're all set to explode in some ways when we least expect it. The bubbles that simmer and pop are the constant fear of loss of control and the knowledge that our fellow citizens can and will turn on us as soon as we break one of the conventions of polite society. The pressure is incredible and it's no wonder we're insane as a species, worshipping blood-soaked violence in our entertainment and terrified of the sight of sex instead.
The flip side of this is that soda is delicious. It’s a bottle of sugar-laden carbonated water. It’s sweet. It’s amazing when ice cold on a sun-soaked day.
And there is only one way to deal with a bottle of delicious, ice-cold soda when the bottle has been tossed around a bit and is set to go off.
Wait a while for it to settle down. If the bottle had something so anthropomorphic as patience, we could all benefit from that.