The Longest Night


"Love your neighbor as you love yourself." -Jesus "Hell is other people." -Jean-Paul Sartre

It's hard to love yourself. It's hard to love others. Either way, you love someone who doesn't deserve it.

This is the longest night of the year, when our phenomenal world is as close as possible to the noumenal void in our souls. In the years before the internet, we sat in the dark and whispered, terrified: "What is the meaning of existence?"

One night while touring through Chicago, I had a late night chat with philosopher Ted Calhoun- father of Waterbug Records founder Andrew Calhoun- in which he explained the beginning of his career in philosophy. He was seven years old, grappling with another's death for the first time. He said, "It was like a black arrow pointing back at me, erasing all existence. The conclusion I came to was..." and he paused for a long time.

"You should be kind to people."

I'm at my mother-in-law's house in Bedford Village, New York. Bedford is idyllic. Martha Stewart lives here. There's enough money in town to buy the Himalayas. A four-story Christmas tree towers over a private lawn. A perfect stubborn snow skirts the dry stack stone walls, horse fences, and oaks born before the American Revolution.

Today we opened the front cover of Martha Stewart Living and found the latest issue of Psychology Today. Screaming. Name-calling. Throwing stuff. Going to bed without supper. Everything short of human sacrifice.

But that's what the holidays are for. We light the lights because it's so damned dark.

It's late and tensions have eased, likely because we're worn out. My wife is watching television with her mother, which seems to work better than conversation. Our son is sleeping off a world-class shit-storm. I'm telling the whole damned internet, but seriously, keep this between us. I'm pretty sure something similar is happening across town in Martha Stewart's house.

The neighbors are gay and Jesus was brown. Get over your idiot self. Stop looking for a place to blame your anger. You were born angry into a cruel world. It's not easy for anybody. Maybe after a good night's sleep we'll be ready for more full-contact sports, but there is a light. The light is that we know better.

Light the light on the longest night. Not that I'm trying to tell you what to do. Jesus Christ.

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