There is a certain charm to the more basic things in life. As the world gets more and more sophisticated, if that IS the word for it, some of the traditional things which we enjoy become dated, anachronistic, of simply another era. Part of what art and entertainment does is to comment on those cultural displacements, and when it works well, it's very good indeed. Between films, literature, music, and painting, we can cover a lot of ground. And with regards to the young generations, what can we do, what is our obligation, to explain to them what the real meanings of life are? I'll admit that for me, the "purpose of life" is something that is hard to explain in simple elegant terms. In essence, as my mother sometimes reminds me, the living of a life and pursuit of righteousness comes down to a few simple precepts: (from Mica VI)- "and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" That is about as plain as you can put it. But on those days when clear thinking evades you, we must rely on those other expressions of what life is about to guide us. For me that often takes on a rather odd interpretation. Well, perhaps not odd, but at the very least, lets call it "alternative."
Thank goodness for films. Movies sometimes give us an outlet for expression which wouldn't seem obvious at the moment. One of my favorites (no laughing, please) is from the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast. It remains close to me in part, I'm sure, because of the dedication my daughter Jordan, then about 5, felt for the film. She loved Belle, appreciated her wacky old man, thought that the Prince was, in the end, worthy. But like me, she had a special effection for Gaston, the lumbering buffoon who, after being shunned by Belle for his uncool attempt to pick her up, stirs the village up against her father, and, of course, the Beast (i.e the Prince.) Somewhere in that tale, old as it is, are to be found some true secrets of what life should be, even if we struggle to make it so. At the beginning of the film, after being shut-down by Belle, all of Gastons friends gather round him to remind him what a swell guy he is. The lyrics are beyond wonder:
My what a guy, that Gaston!
No one shoots like Gaston
Makes those beauts like Gaston
Then goes tromping around wearing boots like Gaston
I use antlers in all of my decorating!
My what a guy,
What a Guy, indeed! But there is little in the movie which illuminates the big bully as much as that last stanza: "I use antlers in all of my Decorating..."
Since the movie debuted, Iris and I have had a fond fond place in our hearts for the concept of using antlers in decorating. It is not, let's be clear, for everyone. First you either have to track and hunt down a deer in hunting season, and get lucky (sic) enough to shoot him, but then you have to deal with the more physical elements: getting him skinned, the meat taken care of, and of course the head looked after. But once you're past that minor set of hurdles, boy do you have something that longs to be on a wall. On the very rare occasion that we stay in an "Antler" motif room, we always feel a certain obligation to do our own version of "using antlers in all of our decorating." At some point, we may actually own our very own set of antlers. Probably not right away. But there is something kind off homey, welcoming (if only we all wore fedoras, and could take advantage of all those places to hang up a hat.
For my part, I can't miss an opportunity to stand under the great animal, and give you my own version of Decorating with Antlers. Like Nash Ramblers, pink striped button down shirts, and maybe even an Edsel sedan, Antlers will always come back to us. And I suppose if you understand where the antlers come from, how they got to be there, and feel the debt of gratitude we owe the animals who are their rightful bearers, then perhaps those few things which we think explain the meanings of life come into focus. Just don't sit on one, or accidently get gored.
We're just sayin