Monday, November 21, 2016

Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster's Thanksgiving message: "I'm thankful for my rock"

Forward by Harry the Human 

My companion, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, has been learning about the American custom of Thanksgiving from our media, and he asked me about thankfulness, which he understands is the central concept of the holiday.  The media presentations and my response prompted him to write the piece below, which I submit without prejudgment, thankful that our planet still harbors sentient life forms other than our own, no matter what they think.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Harry the Human

Thanksgiving message from Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster

Greetings human race!  Thanks once again for permitting me to observe and comment upon your customs.  I've been following the American holiday of Thanksgiving for a few years, and this one in particular has a poignant quality, in my view, as you appear unsure what to be grateful for.

Of course, the holiday is designed for just such an environment, in which there is scant evidence of a beneficent providence showering you with gifts. The mythic event in your history that engendered Thanksgiving was a situation of dire need and emergency, in which your founding explorers faced a nightmarish reality: their dependence on indigenous cultures, which they knew even then, subconsciously perhaps, could never accommodate the founders' ultimate need to supplant them.

In the current case, your presidential election, just before Thanksgiving, jolted you with its unprecedented message of national meaninglessness and uncertainty.  Not only do many of you doubt the definition of your nation that you were taught as children, you face the ascendency of a hostile military establishment and complicit media that seek to lure you into destruction and death.  

But, as noted, it's the right time for Thanksgiving, when there is little in the external world to be thankful for, so you look to your immediate world and are thankful for your family, your friends, your life, and hopefully, if you have one, the inner world of your mind.

What a contrast with the life of a blessed species like gila "monsters"!  We don't distinguish between "luck," which is random and fickle, and our lives, which tend to be constant (barring our occasional consumption by coyotes). Harry plans to take me to his friend Doug's Thanksgiving dinner, where I expect to be showcased like the oddity I am.  That's fine with me- I'll enjoy adding to my ongoing study of your species- but if the assembled guests, per your custom, demand to know what I'm thankful for, I will reply (to those receptive to telepathy), "I am thankful for the rock I habitually sit on."

I expect the immediate response will be, "Oh, the poor humble creature!  While we are thankful for family and HBO and material gifts of all sorts, this animal is thankful for his rock!"  And secretly they will think, "I'm thankful I'm not a gila monster, a species so impoverished it lifts a clawed foot in praise of raw, cheap earth!"

Of course if anyone's interested, I'll explain that a gila's "rock" is more than a rock- it's the central turf of an entire life, a life where the environment fits the organism.  That is something no human can be thankful for.  The very mass-produced table you sit at, the tormented animals you eat, the combined jumble of wires, wood, concrete and cacophony of your extended habitats - so complex and far removed from the planet that you might as well already be colonizing Mars- plus the chaos you now face as you discover that your social contract, once again, is dangerously out of date: these are tricky elements to be thankful for.  Would you be thankful, I wonder, if you knew what it feels like to be me sitting on my rock?

The adults may not understand, but human children present will have the insight born of the vestigial memory of "sitting on your rock."  Watch children play in designated areas, where artificial "rocks," territorial projections, are the center of play, as the children reenact eons of competition for what you would now call a "safe space," where you are free to exist as you are.  The children's endless competition for these spaces suggests the endless human search for them, and the elusive quality of success.

If anyone asks, I'll tell the assembled guests that sitting on a rock of one's own is the ultimate expression of the gila's ascendency, involving qualities suggested by human terms like, "success," "enlightenment," "self-realization," etc.   I'll try to keep in mind that it would be rude and cruel to overly tout our safe-space rocks, since humans generally are bereft of them.  You have been scouring and tearing the earth apart for millennia in search of rocks, since you lost your safe space in the forest, when you were animals.  The Thanksgiving dinner itself is now your rock, your safe space, which is why adults, who better understand the human world, always announce their thankfulness for family, while the primitive youngsters talk about presents and money spent.

You have a character from your inventive Dr. Seuss named "the Grinch," who befouls one of your major religious observances- that commemorating the birth of your creator god's son (who is later tortured to death, a baffling twist from a gila's perspective).  Must I be your Grinch for Thanksgiving?  I don't relish the role.  I want to be an honest cross-species ambassador, delivering assistance and goodwill.  I really do.  But, well, honesty is not easy.  Especially now.

I hope our gracious hosts on Thursday will permit me to raise a glass (figuratively) to toast the future of humanity, when it will rise from its current troubled and confused state to take its place on rocks of wisdom scattered through the cosmos, now vacant and awaiting new arrivals.

 Thankfully, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster

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