Sunday, December 14, 2008

Instant cure for grandiosity and inflation with LOL

Here is a very effective and also humorous cure for feelings of alienation, grandiosity, inflation and feelings of spiritual superiority.

First let me define the terms. Alienation is the feeling that one is suddenly detached from the reality of life, and thus almost looking "down" on what is happening as though it were all unreal, an illusion or a "script." Grandiosity is the sense that one is bigger and better than all the other people, and that you are among them and nice to them only because you are being "generous." Inflation is the belief that you are not just human but have supernatural powers or identity. Feeling of spiritual superiority used to be known as feeling "holier than thou art" until modern times, when people want to be "spiritual" and not holy... and so this term means that you think spiritual goodness and prowess is something that can be measured and that you have more of it than other humans.

When I was a teenager and later in college, I regularly encountered people who had moments of alienation. So I have a long history of prescribing this "treatment" to them, and it is actually part of our family lore.

Go stand in a long line that involves some horribly drawn out bureaucratic procedure.

I'm not joking, this is a very effective cure for the feelings described above. It works because it requires one to be "stuck" within the reality of matter, energy and time. When one is stuck waiting two hours in a line to do some meaningless paperwork, it is enforced mental rootedness. One cannot genuinely detach, inflate or feel superior when one must shuffle as a clock slowly ticks in order to apply a very real pen to a very real paper for very real results or failure.

Now, the flagship for this cure in those days was the Motor Vehicle Bureau. Before the time of computers and even calculators, and way before the time of "service first" and "the customer is always right," going to the Motor Vehicle Bureau was a guaranteed complete day killing torture. There were no convenient "local offices" so one had to drive into the nearest city. Once there one witnessed all forms of human drama and misery (they wait two hours in line and find they have the wrong form, for example). This is where it entered family lore as my mother gave it the nickname "The Divorce Court," as the misery and prolonged drama of the Motor Vehicle Bureau was only matched by a court dedicated to handling divorce cases (which back then was not "no fault" and thus was old fashioned agony at its best).

In this modern era it is harder to find such a bureaucratic and miserable line to stand in, but you can envision and, if you are unlucky, experience some equivalents. Those who have to wait in line for water after a hurricane know exactly what I mean. No one is feeling alienated, grandiose, inflated or superior when you are standing in line, dirty and tired, waiting hours for water in the heat (or the cold) and not even knowing if you will be successful when it is your turn. Miserable as it is, it is a very rooting experience. When one goes through something like that, it's a great cure to slough off any pretensions and affectations of being "above it all" or "not really of this world." Yep, when you have to shuffle off to Buffalo, to use an old saying, to travel a long and inconvenient distance in order to stand in a long line to do one and only one bureaucratic thing, that you may or may not succeed in, and everyone is "in the same boat," it's a great cure.

So well rooted am I and having spent my share in lines such as this that in the 1980's when I needed my passport renewed and working at a Wall Street bank found that an assistant would take my passport in person and have it renewed for me while I stayed in my office, not having to stand in line I almost fainted. To this day I still retain the habit that I and my cohorts developed which is to always have a paperback book along with you in case you have to stand in a long line.

To this day when we joke in my family about "going to divorce court" that is subversive nickname humor referring to the great miserable equalizer that cures by making one stuck in time and earthly matter, the old Motor Vehicle Bureau.