By Lee Glazier
“Shit happens,” is a very un-Dude thing to say.
Ya know, it might seem Zen on the surface, but it’s really a little kernel of apathy and cynicism wrapped up in—I don’t know, some kind of wrapping paper analogy.
When somebody tells me, “Yeah, well, shit happens, man,” they just come off as an uptight jerk who has been beaten into submission by the uptight way they relate to the world. These are usually the kind of people who laugh at others’ misfortune. I’ve got a dark sense of humor, and I don’t really even like people that much, but such an offhand dismissal of a person’s suffering seems over the line to me—especially when it comes from someone who should know better, like a Taoist or a Buddhist priest. Yeah, I know that the clergy are just normal people like the rest of us, but isn’t taking on increased ethical responsibilties and leading by example the whole point of tossing on the frock? If not, why do it?
The problem with these little “quirks” is that, if they wear robes, they can convince people that that’s what it’s all about. Then we get lazy and don’t put in the real work needed for us to embody, “Taking it easy.” There’s an old Taoist thing about a tree (there are actually a lot of old Taoist things about trees) that talks about, uh, it talks about bending.
When the wind blows, like really freaking blows, it’s the firm branch that snaps and the tree with shallow roots that falls; it’s the flexible branch that survives, and the deep-rooted tree that keeps standing. Cynics aren’t either of those types of foliage. Cynics are firm branches that have already snapped off and are now decaying on the ground; they’re rotting logs that were once hard trees with shallow roots. Pretty heavy.
They think that they’ve got it all figured out, but they’re missing one of the telltale signs of a person who’s got it: they aren’t content. They’ll rationalize that away by saying that that’s not what life’s about or that peace is impermanent, but that’s just BS, man. If they really got down to the heart of it, they’d be content even when things are at their hairiest, and they’d never dismiss another person’s misery. They’d be strong enough; their roots would be deep enough for them to feel and acknowledge that misery—because they can take it.
That’s the Dudesattva, the Mellow Warrior, taking it easy on our behalf. Floating through the cosmos, seeing the Dudeha-nature in all beings, letting the strikes and gutters come and go as they will, throwing themselves down the lane with the ball. Dudes don’t say, “Shit happens,” Dudes say, “Fuck it.” Now fuck it is a little different—it’s gentler, and it’s usually the product of some kind of contemplation. Fuck it comes after a reflective pause in which every angle of the situation is considered. Just think about the times you’ve said it, you’ll see what I mean. Or look at what went into it the next time you say it. I bet you’ll think of this article when you say it next time (Just wait for it, it’s gonna happen. If not I’ll buy you a Sioux City Sarsparilla…just kidding, I can’t back that up… I’m broke).
The situation isn’t totally hopeless for cynics and nihilists, but it’s pretty dismal. Those are the most insidious and addicting worldviews because they actually have, ya know, an ample amount of evidence to back up their rationale. I used to be like that, man. I used to hate everything, and I was depressed and callous. I hadn’t suffered enough yet; I didn’t finish the ritual, the digging a hole ritual.
Sometimes, if we get too deep in that hole, it’s impossible to climb out of it. So we either molder there or slip into some kind of delusional distraction that eventually comes crashing down around us. When that happens, we usually realize that we’ve been unhappy for years without realizing it; we’ve been down in that hole the whole time.
If you’re in too deep, the only viable option is to keep digging until you come out the other side. We let the snake bite its tail, man—turn apathy on itself, turn cynicism and dry skepticism on themselves. When they are forced to include themselves in the worldviews that they create, they collapse under their own weight.
I became fed up with being fed up, cynical toward my cynicism, skeptical of my skepticism and the whole thing just came crashing down.
The moral of this is that if you want to be a human being who does credit to their genome, you have to suffer when others are suffering and be happy when others are happy. That’s a deceptively simple maxim. On the surface it contributes to our own peace of mind, but really, that simple little practice could end wars.
And having a “shit happens” philosophy could start them.
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast from Golden, Colorado. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?” Feel free to like or contact him through is Facebook page.
Editor: Dana Gornall