The Thing I Like About …

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: the part where he introduces Rocky to the group.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter has been working very hard on his creation – the beautiful Rocky. He has re-animated the fellow with some sort of wizard-science, and he is proudly parading him around the room full of fawning party-guests. Everyone is praising the doctor’s achievement … except Janet.

Janet looks shyly at Brad and then tells Dr. Frank-N-Furter that she doesn’t like men with too many muscles. (Poor Brad.)

Dr. Frank-N-Furter stares at her in absolute indignation and tells her, “I didn’t make him for YOU!”

Why is this important? Because we forget this for ourselves all the time, and it pretty much ruins our lives.

We arrange our lives around what other people expect/request/want/prefer, not just when we’re little kids and our parents are trying to teach us things, but forever – we get the job we think we “should” have and the education we think we “should” have and date the people that seem “proper”. Then we have children that we raise with all the other parents in mind instead of the children themselves; we compare and evaluate our parenting based on what the Joneses are able to give/afford/do and on what the Joneses think is good/wholesome/productive. And these are just the big-ticket items. We do it with little things too.

We cut our hair the way others are doing it. We wear the clothes that others are wearing, in the sizes that others are – or seem to be. We say the things that others are saying. We watch the things that others are watching. We don’t admit that we like Star Trek unless we’re with other Star Trek fans. We don’t like to share our political/religious/whatever views unless we know we’re in a group where those views are already accepted. We don’t care for conflict or confrontation, but we particularly don’t like the feeling of being excluded. Excluded could mean that you’re not part of the tribe, and not being part of the tribe could mean that you’ll be ejected from the village and left to die under a bridge.

But the fact is that there is a way-to-do-things for each of the seven-odd billion people on the planet. Most of the time, those ways to do things are correct and good. The differences between us make life more interesting, and the unique perspectives we each bring to the table are important and valuable. Unless we’re actually hurting someone, the only “should” in our lives should be to live exactly as we please without regard to anyone else’s opinions. We should build Rockys for ourselves without worrying whether others will like our creation or not. We should honour others’ building rather than the outcomes; outcome-judgment is for math tests and engineering and surgery, not for the stories we write or the paintings we like or the shirts that we pick (or, you know, the partners that we create out of spare parts).

Look around at your naysayers – the real ones, the ones you imagine, the ones you expect – and tell them, with a condescending look of indignation: “I didn’t build my life for YOU!”

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A Countdown for the Holidays

The Wisdom of Pinhead: Part Four
“He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake …”*

Last year for Christmas, I blogged about my favourite part of Hellraiser V: Inferno.  I talked about how Pinhead’s dark, scary message was really a cautionary Christmas tale – avoid superficiality and selfishness and embrace what really matters, or, you know, pay horribly forever.  I realized afterward that Pinhead has always had some very Christmas-y things to say … when seen in the right light.  So this year, I will be presenting a Pinhead-Christmas-personal empowerment-happy-joy-countdown.  At the end of it, I hope readers – Christian and non-Christian alike – are more disposed to find the love and joy the Christmas holiday represents.

And maybe they’ll want to watch the movies too.

Kirsty Cotton: I’ve come for my father!
[the Cenobites laugh at that]
Pinhead: But he is in his own Hell, child, and quite unreachable.
Kirsty Cotton: I don’t believe you!
Pinhead: But it’s true. He is in his own Hell, just as you are in yours.

Only in life can we suffer; after our death, our troubles are over, as they say.  But this doesn’t mean that life is only suffering – quite the opposite: life is also beautiful and wondrous and good.  In this quote, Pinhead reveals that his “Hell” is for the living, that his “clients” choose consciously to open the box while alive, and bring Hell upon themselves with their own actions and desires … and after they’re dead, they will be as far from Pinhead’s reach as all those who avoided the box and its delights entirely.

What does this mean for you and me?  It means that we make our hells for ourselves.  It means that we really don’t know what happens after we’re dead, until we die.  It means that, just as life can be suffering, it can also be joy, or despair, or loss, or bliss – and that, far more than we usually realize, what life is for each of us is under our own control.

It also means that, whether we like it or not, whether we believe or not, whatever thing we may believe in, absolutely none of us knows – really knows – what’s waiting for us after that last breath.  Some of us have glimpses, some of us see wonders that give us some comfort, but in the end, even Hell doesn’t know what happens.  In the end, we’ll just have to accept that death is a mystery … because if we don’t, that lingering fear of death and its uncertainty will turn us into little, stressed-out globules of anger who are always quarreling with one another to distract ourselves from our own worry.

Kind of like the way we already do it.

So maybe for the holidays – or all year round, if we feel we’re up to it – we can reorganize some of our burdens.  We can agree to be in charge of our own lives here – to accept the consequences of our actions, to recognize that so very often we make our own pain and suffering.  We can stop wasting our living moments searching for death, and instead allow whatever god may exist to be in charge of the afterlife.  We can stop creating Hell on earth in all manner of creative ways, and instead let Pinhead be in charge of Hell.

He seems to doing a much fairer job of it than we do.

* “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” by Coots and Gillespie