Thursday, December 24, 2015

When Walls Suffer a Mussolini-as-a-Hippie Complex

Lawrence Hall, HSG

When Walls Suffer a Mussolini Complex

Can you remember the last time you visited someone’s house and it didn’t have all those hippie commandments posted all over the walls? You know, those pretend-antique signs telling you to do stuff, like “DANCE AS IF NO ONE IS LOOKING.”

The logical rejoinder would be “Why the (Newark) should I?” but then you’d be talking back to a sign.

And then there is “EAT. LOVE. PRAY.”

Really, does anyone need a made-in-China sign tacked to the wall in order to remember to eat? One longs to see a sign that says “STARVE. HATE. INDULGE IN VAGUE, FUZZY THOUGHTS.”

People’s walls are beginning to look like jail reception areas, or maybe a cosmic boot camp, only with crystals and some groovy Peter, Paul, and Mary sounds instead of “NO SMOKING,” “REMAIN SEATED,” “NO TALKING,” and “STAND ON THE YELLOW FOOTPRINTS.”

Here’s another Miz Bossy Beatnik life instruction: “LIFE ISN’T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS. IT’S ABOUT LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN.” Well, just as you wish, but if you dance in the rain around here you’re likely to get struck by lightning.

“LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED.” Oh, I dunno, something to eat, clothes, shelter – these are needful too

“DO NOT FOLLOW WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD. GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL.” The problem here is that the National Park Service posts their own signs telling you not to do any such thing.

“FOLLOW YOUR HEART.” Aw, now, couldn’t you follow your pancreas instead?

‘THINK DEEPLY, SPEAK GENTLY, LOVE MUCH, LAUGH A LOT, WORK HARD, GIVE FREELY, AND BE KIND.” Wait, wait, don’t tell me – that’s from the Bible. Or Shakespeare. Or NCIS.

“BREATHE BELIEVE EMBRACE SHARE SMILE LOVE LIVE LAUGH CREATE TRUST CARE BREATHE CARE SING.” Yes, I believe those sentiments come from the Internal Revenue Service. Or maybe that was a comforting little something Sergeant Schneider sang as a lullaby to us lads at Camp Pendleton.

Even Christmas candies now tell us what to do. The foil wrapper around a chocolate ordered me to “HIT SNOOZE X 5.” The sequel to that would be my boss advising me that my services are no longer required.

Another wrapper instructed me to “GET LOST ON PURPOSE.” Happily, I’m not a truck driver.

And another: “BECAUSE YOU CAN.” Because you can what? Is there a cause that goes with that because? Is there a moral or ethical sanction functioning here?

Only one bossy sign would sound just right: “TAKE DOWN THE BOSSY SIGNS TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO DO.”

Let us return to decorating our walls with lovely pictures instead of with edicts. Something classy, like dogs playing poker.


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