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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Gods Must Be Crazy

This is Xi, a bushman from the desert in South Africa. He is standing at a place which he believes to be the end of the earth, throwing away a Coke bottle, which has become for him and his family, the embodiment of Evil.

Perhaps some of you "of a certain age" will remember this scene from the 1980s film, "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

Very, very briefly, the story line is this:
Xi and his tribe are living well off the land in the Kalahari Desert. They are happy because the gods have provided plenty of everything, and no one in the tribe has unfulfilled wants.

One day, a glass Coke bottle is thrown out of a plane and falls to earth unbroken. Initially, this strange artifact seems to be another boon from the gods—-Xi's people find many uses for it. But unlike anything that they have had before, there is only one bottle to go around. This exposes the tribe to a hitherto unknown phenomenon, property, and they soon find themselves experiencing things they never had before: jealousy, envy, anger, hatred, even violence.

Since it has caused the tribe unhappiness on two occasions, Xi decides that the bottle is an evil thing and must be thrown off of the edge of the world. He sets out alone on his quest and encounters Western civilization for the first time. The film presents an interesting interpretation of civilization as viewed through Xi's perceptions.
It was a fairly controversial film in its day. Some thought it was racist and it was banned in several African and Afro-Caribbean countries. It's fans, however, saw not a caricature of tribal life, but a condemnation of Western civilization.

It was a story in three parts, progressing from documentary to comedy to fantastical allegorical ending with Xi as the hero.

I've been thinking a great deal of Xi these past few weeks as I've been doing some Fall Cleaning around the rectory.

The weekend before last I cleaned out the garage. It is now a marvel of cleanliness and order. I actually put together a shelving unit to store the things we regularly need - tools, some power equipment, potting soil and grass seed. Like that.

Problem is, it came out a bit crooked. I think I tightened all the screws before I was supposed to. Or something. It stands firmly and securely, alright. It just leans a little to the right. It looks fine if you move the top half of your body slightly to the right.

Stop laughing, okay? It was my first attempt at anything like this, and I thought I did quite well. I'm only annoyed that if it had to lean a bit, why did it have to lean to the right? Why couldn't it have leaned to the left?

Anyway. So, this past weekend, I washed and then scraped and sanded down all the deck furniture - a table and four chairs - then painted them all with Rustoleum. Glossy Black. It looks terrific, if I do say so myself.

Then, with all the furniture off the deck, I power washed it with some deck wash stuff I got at the hardware store. It's been such a warm, rainy summer that the deck had begun to grow a thin layer of lovely emerald moss.

It's not exactly where I want it to be but it's much, much better than it once was. And, it clearly needs to be re-stained, but I think I'm going to have to have a professional come and do it right in the Spring before I tackle that chore.

Tomorrow, I'm going to install some solar panel walk lights on the front lawn. It's fairly dark and difficult for our guests to see their way back to their cars parked on the street at the end of the evening. The Vestry bought them way back in April and we've been waiting for "someone" to come and install them.

You know the "Someones". Every church family has them. They are related to the "Nobodys" - as in "Someone" is going to do that but "Nobody" knows who.

So, tonight I've been cleaning storage closets. Sorting and weeding though lots of stuff. Okay, some of it is flat out crap. Why in the world we hang onto some of the stuff we do is beyond me.

I fear the sins of the mothers have been passed down to the daughters. There is one whole corner of the attic taken up by one daughter's stuff, and one whole corner of the basement taken up by another daughter's stuff.

I'm talking one whole plastic tub of stuff from one daughter's sticker collection - from when she was nine years old. And clothing! OMG, the clothing! There are prom dresses up there that no one would ever wear again.

One particular number from the 80s is a white strapless, form-fitting creation that goes all the way to the floor and end in a big green sequined flare.

Looks like something Ariel, the Little Mermaid, might have worn.

What the heck were we thinking? Oh, I remember. We thought it was beautiful. Nothing like I would have worn - or my mother or grandmother before me.

I actually found the suit I was ordained in - almost 24 years ago. It's a winter white Christian Dior. Skirt and jacket. I got it for $15 at the Thrift Shop in the basement of what was affectionately known as "Church of the (Fashionable) Redeemer" in Chestnut Hill in Boston. It still fits and it's in almost perfect condition. I'm going to have it cleaned and tailored and start wearing it again.

Other than that, however, most of the stuff needs to be tossed. It's an embarrassment. To have held onto all this stuff for so many years. Did I do it to make me feel better? That I have stuff? I have so much stuff I have to store it away?

Property. Ownership. The need to possess. Things.

They can become an evil presence in our lives.

The gods must be crazy. I feel a bit like Xi who saw the Coke bottle that fell down from the sky as something that he would go to the end of the earth to get rid of.

Thankfully, I only have to go to the Town Dump.


Riley said...

If you can handle a power washer, you'd have no trouble re-staining the deck. A little pump sprayer and some stain, and you're good to go.

As for the leaning tower of garage organization...yes, your theory on the screw situation is correct. And I AM laughing. : )

I spent the last few days purging
some old computer files that I've
decided to let go of. I think I'll head up to the attic tomorrow and maybe this weekend I'll tackle the basement.

I'm a saver and sentimental by
nature which isn't a good combo, I guess. You've given me the little nudge I needed to face it all.

Lindy said...

Thanks for telling the story of the Gods. I'd heard of it but didn't know the story line. Now I want to rent it.

When you're putting together something like the shelves you have to put the screws in loosely at first, just enough to keep it all together. When you're out of parts go back and tighten the screws. It won't lean.

From one who learned the same way you did,