Blessed State of Denial 022311
The most active of our cousins the apes all practice deceit and self-deceit. We call deceit, when it’s discovered, “dishonesty” or “fraud” but self-deceit we call “denial”.
A lot of people talk dirt about denial. What buggers that is that we all practice denial all the time. It literally gives us the courage to live.
It’s easiest to see in young apes like our species in youth. The young are shorted on experience but gifted with an abundance of confidence of the sort that only denial can provide. It's a heady potion, musky and sweet, and it powers them to unreasonable success, or spectacular, blazing failure. But, it’s worth it; failure is easily achieved, indeed, it is squat with inevitability. Success is hard fought and taxing and only a strong sense of self-denial makes it possible for any baby turtles to reach the sea, or any of us to find whatever open ocean we will find. We pass those with the clear-eyed view, the small likelihood of success numbs their minds and halts their legs.
As we age, if we are so lucky, our denial seems to run out. It doesn’t though, it simply cools as embers of oak cool, passing through a stage where we lack to courage to move to take a new job, leading by degrees to the stage where we lack the courage, or denial, to take on anything new. Eventually, if we are realistic enough, we can find our minds numb, and our legs halt.
Even then, our denial holds some heat, and at our core, if we are lucky and smart, there is enough denial left to buoy our spirits when we buy a lottery card, or a large bunch of green bananas.
Too much denial can, of course, be a problem. If you know how to make wine in a plastic garbage bag from potato peelings, or how to apply a multi-layered tattoo with a safety pin, you’ve had too much. If you’re addicted to 12 Step programs, or edit a small newspaper, likewise.
Even so, most of us could use a little more denial, give ourselves a little more of that raucous intoxicant. After all, we’re not that old, and certainly not that fat, and a big nose is a sign of character. Our party is right, our God is the Real Deal and our neighbors drink more than we do.
Let’s not forget our other names for denial: faith, hope, optimism. Without them, our brains will become numb, and our feet halt.
Let’s all bark at the moon!