Today, I inaugurate a new topic in which I will attempt to link my passion for mythology with the real world, today (Wednesday, April 20) showing how a myth helped me better understand my unusual day. In my previous post, I noted that I had not checked the news regularly. For some reason, I couldn’t focus. Only, later, in the day, did I realize that I was learning the lesson that the Theban king, Pentheus, learned just before his demise.
Pentheus, you see, refused to honor Dionysus, the god of, among other things, wine and ecstasy. In the end, as we shall see, the god punished him severely for this dishonor. I had planned today to do, as I have done for the past few days (including the weekend) and read for my classes, then write, either for myself or this blog. I would be very productive and focus on rational endeavors.
And the day began according to plan. I woke early, took my car to the mechanic for its oil change and “checkup,” then walked to a nearby Starbucks to get my morning coffee where I read for my classes and reviewed two print-outs, one Gallup’s analysis of its recent poll on attitudes toward gay marriage, the other, a long post from Jane Galt’s blog on gay marriage. (More on both anon.)
When I learned that the work on my car would take longer than I had anticipated, I walked home, fully intending to work as hard today as I had these past few days. But, back here (at my place), I couldn’t focus. I kept trying to be practical and saying I needed to write, but gave up and ended up being idle. In short, I wasted part of the day.
Finally, just after my mechanic called to say the car was ready, I rushed out to get my car and, for some reason, decided to enjoy my walk. I would challenge myself to see if I could make the light at each crosswalk, no matter how far away I was (when the light turned green). I didn’t care if people thought I looked silly running (in my street clothes). I wanted to make this long walk — on a dull street — fun. I began to feel better.
By the time I picked up my car, after I had enjoyed the “ecstasy”‘ of my silly energetic walk/run and upon reading of the good news in Connecticut, I was able to dash out a quick post. In the short time between finishing that post and meeting a blog-reader for dinner, I accomplished more than I had in the several hours between arriving back at home (in the late morning) and leaving (in the late afternoon) to pick up my car. All because I dared to let myself go and be silly on my walk from here to the mechanic.
It occurred to me as I prepared to meet this reader that I had focused too much for these past few weeks on working hard and did not honor that Dionysiac impulse in myself, that impulse in all of us, to let go and be goofy. Fortunately, my fate was not as severe as that of Pentheus when he refused to honor Dionysus.
That unfortunate king decided to spy on his fellow citizens who were observing the god’s rites on Mt. Cithaeron. In disguise, he hid in a pine tree. Soon, the celebrants, among them his own mother, gathered nearby and began the energetic ritual. In their frenzy, they uprooted the tree and mistaking their king for a lion, dismembered him.
Today, I may have accomplished more had I allowed myself a few hours of silliness earlier in the day. So, tonight at dinner, I, who don’t normally drink, honored Dionysus by having two glasses of wine. We had an amazing conversation — and a great time.
Sometimes, we need to honor Dionysus in our lives, that is, we just let go and be silly. And if we’re not driving, maybe have one drink too many. After these moments of ecstasy, we will surely find — as I did today — that we can better focus on the work we all need to accomplish.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Those two glasses of wine seemed to have helped. After returning home from my great dinner, I churned out two posts, this one and my lengthy discourse of the significance of Connecticut’s civil unions bill.