Wednesday, April 21, 2004

How's your conscience look?
Being from the "old country" (which isn't as old as I'd originally thought (see Michael Blowhard on "Genesis Updated" , but is certainly older than this country (USA)), certain visuals are cached in the noggin. These pictures are cued up when my mind is forced by circumstances to get itself out of its daily doldrums and do some moral calibrating. When these moments come up and the ol' moral compass gets pulled out of my backpocket, I tend to see a semblance of these two elderly Slavic women perched behind my left ear, checking out which direction my conscience is pointing.
Notice the arms on hip pose. The placement of their arms is important; sometimes all I visualize are the right angles of the limbs. The general expression is, "So, what are you going to do (or say, or provide..)? And if I hesitate or I don't know, mental "batine" are ready to be administered with the reliable wooden spoon. Don't ask, it's a Croatian thing.
Sometimes, recussitation of one's take on things is needed and there's nothing like a slap, in a figurative way, to set things in motion.
You kick your lawnmower (the machine..not the person), when the motor stalls or just doesn't engage.
You hit your monitor to get those bits & bytes moving a bit faster.
This is the same thing.
The logic is if administration of some batine worked wonders on a stalled mule, than the mental picture of that slap should get the lazy moral ass in your head up and going in the right direction.
Life with these visions of conscience has been..interesting. I've noticed that the number of these starice at any one point of a moral dilemna is in direct proportion to the hardship at hand. Most times, I luck out and have only one giving me the malocchio. Once in a blue moon, a coven of starice gather, just waiting for me do the wrong thing. And if the wrong thing is done ("wrong", being determined after the unfortunate decision), it was always easier to personalize my conscience into the form of a 5 ft (1 meter and a half) short and stout babuschka tsk-tsking me rather than getting into self-flagellation.

As I've gotten older, "not doing the wrong thing" has been been replaced by "doing the right thing". Same moral direction; different compass. Conscience's picture has also changed. The frame is still that "old country" gnarled beat up ash. But now, Joseph Campbell is staring from the confines of that frame, with that marvelous touch of a fading smile and world weary eyes. The batine are still dispensed, but subtlety and wit are the rule; the wooden spoon has been deported back to the starice in the old country. May they use it wisely in dispensing encouragement to all of their mules. Ptuj

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