Sunday, December 28, 2008

"We Know Drama" – Really? Do You?

So I'm watching TNT the other night, and it ran one of those promos that ends with the network's catchphrase: "We know drama." And for some reason, it made me sneer. (Well, not an actual sneer, because I'm not very good at that facial expression, although I can do a pretty good Elvis lip curl.)

I guess it just underscored how obsessed we are with drama nowadays. Yeah, contrived drama sells, but what it also does is lessen our appreciation for the truly dramatic – the significant kind of drama, the kind that really impacts our lives and makes us think deeply about important issues. After watching a particularly intense episode of, say, 24, does the real fight against terrorism strike a chord with us? Does real pain, real suffering, real danger, move us? Not as much as it should; I think the contrived drama of this age has desensitized us to a disturbing degree. The line between real and imagined is blurred.

On the other side, there is the kind of drama that brings us joy. Countless sports channels give us that, with more and more focus on the dramatic moments than on what led up to those moments. Just give us a the highlights, we say. No time for the meat of the matter.

What's wrong with the "boring" routine of everyday life? We should be satisfied with the small joys, the things that keep our hearts attuned to reality and prepare us to respond to real drama with true emotion – to tragedy, with compassion and hope; to victory, with gratitude and appreciation.

I find myself too often seeking pseudo-drama, and I feel like it sucks something out of me. Nothing wrong with a good movie or an exciting ballgame, but I think I put too much stock in what those temporal things have to offer. When I'm honest with myself, I know I'd rather be taking a walk through the woods, tuning out the world and listening to God.

Today's Redneck Thought: "People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for." – Harper Lee

Monday, December 15, 2008

In Black-and-White; or, Picturing the Past

I've got a copy of this picture of my great-great-grandfather, Samuel John Locke. He's 15 at the time, and he's wearing a Confederate army uniform. He's brandishing a large knife and an odd expression – a curious smirk, it seems. (I daresay it was the first time he'd had his picture taken.) I find myself studying the picture, searching his features to find some trace of physical resemblance between he and I. I've not really found any yet.

I also recently got a copy of a picture of my grandparents when they were a newly married couple. Mamaw and Papaw are 88 and 93 now, respectively, and I find it fascinating to compare then with now.

There is something about those old pictures that hold my mind captive. They give a glimpse of a slice of history, and I wish I could climb inside the picture and explore that history. Not having lived back then only heightens my curiosity. And for some reason, black-and-white photos are more engaging. They lack the dashes of color, but the monochromatic suggests a simpler time and a sturdier people. Of course, a student of history will know that there has never been such a thing as a "simpler time," not in this world.

But the view I get through those old photos paints a picture of an unfamiliar, out-of-reach place. I find some bit of my identity in them, because they remind me of my link to a past that's easily forgotten.

I often find myself wishing I could talk with my great-great-grandfather. But that one picture says a lot.

Today's Redneck Thought: "A picture's worth a thousand words/But you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered/You should've seen it in color" – Jamey Johnson, "In Color"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fakin' It; or, Plastic World

We put up our Christmas tree last night. It's a fake one. Can't remember the last time there was a real tree in my house at Christmastime. A fake one's more convenient, less expensive in the long run. A good investment, I guess. Plus, the cats don't try to climb it.

But I'm kind of tired of fake. Fake body parts, fake hamburgers, fake people, fake grass. Cars are made of plastic. My "hardwood" floors aren't actually made of wood. Fireplaces don't burn real logs. It's all a bit disillusioning.

Our society's based on fake. "Good works" posing as genuine, unquestionable moral character. Lust posing as love. Ignorance posing as knowledge. Heard something interesting the other day: Yoga doesn't actually relieve stress, it represses it. See, we want easy answers that make us feel better about ourselves. And pursuing a physical remedy for an emotional or spiritual ailment is easy.

It all just makes me want to find a real log cabin in the middle of the woods, where I can cut my own wood, eat fresh venison and not talk to anyone except those who truly love me. But I supposed that's a fantasy. So I'll just keep faking it.

Today's Redneck Thought: "My sister says Southerners are like other people, only more so." – Blanche McCrary Boyd