Barry Smith: Irrelativity | AspenTimes.com

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times

Dear Bad Guru,

Why do bad things happen to good people? And while you’re at it, why do good things happen to bad people? Heck, why does anything happen to anybody, ever? And why does all of it seem to be happening to me?

Signed,

Lucinda Von Geesenberg (currently my real name)

Dear Lucy,

The world is basically a pinball machine of karma. Your little silver orb is set in motion when you’re born, and it keeps on going until the “Game Over” sign lights up. The pinball machine doesn’t really see “bad” or “good.” It only responds to gravity, bumpers and flippers. Oh, and it makes a lot of unnecessary noise, too, like most of us. I know you’re thinking that there has to be a twist, but no. All you can really do is not tilt. And if, when all is said and done, you find you’ve got an extra ball or two, well … lucky you.

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• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

I’ve heard it said that when one door closes, another one opens. Well, what if you’re purposely trying to shut them all and keep them shut? What about mosquitoes? You know, “spiritual” mosquitoes? And drafts? Yes, “spiritual” drafts. What, am I heating the whole neighborhood? C’mon, universe, shut the door already, and keep it shut.

Signed,

Agnes (currently no last name)

Dear Agnes,

I get this question a lot, mostly in regard to the “leap and the net will appear” concept. What if you don’t want a net to appear? What if you’re jumping into a pool? You want your perfectly executed half-gainer to end with you dangling from some annoying do-gooder net? This is all metaphorical, of course, but even metaphors have the capability of being annoying.

Burning bridges – now that’s a good stab at metaphorical permanence. Of course, you can’t really shut a door and then burn it, can you? That’s counterproductive, even without a metaphor to hide behind.

There is no easy answer here. Your best course of action, I’m afraid, is to keep the door slightly ajar. That way nobody can see what you’re doing behind it, but there’s still enough of an opening for the “cat” to come and go as it pleases. I’m putting “cat” in quotes for the usual reason people put things in quotes that shouldn’t be – because I mean something other than cat.

Or, as a wise man was once rather badly misquoted as saying, “Opportunity will only knock if your door is closed. And locked. And your doorbell is broken. And there’s no rock next to your living-room window.”

• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

I hate it when people ask me if I’m OK. Especially if they do it over and over again. It makes me paranoid. What makes you think I’m not OK? Do I look not OK or something? Sheesh. And really, if you must know, no, I’m not OK. I’m terrified of my own mortality, and I fear that I might have frittered away my life in pursuit of silly crap. There, are you happy now? I’m not OK. Is that what you want to hear?

Signed,

Nick R. Bader (someone else’s real name)

Dear Nick,

The person in question, with the questions, is what many people refer to as a “waiter.” Or, as the more spiritually evolved prefer to call them, “server.” This person is only asking if you want more fried cheese snacks. And you do, trust me. Next time, ask for some right after saying no to the coffee refills.

• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

These kids today are just so full of themselves. All their lives they’ve been told that they are special and wonderful and that they can do anything they set their minds to. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned low self-esteem, the kind that was pounded into my generation? Isn’t it spiritually damaging to a kid to treat them so well?

Signed,

Missing the Good Old Days (not even remotely a name)

Dear Miss,

“Spare the rod and spoil the child” has always been a helpful guideline when it comes to child rearing. In recent years, though, this saying was mistakenly interpreted as referring to Rod Stewart. As a result, we have a generation of children who have been treated as if they’re a 1970s rock star. We can only hope, for the sake of the species, that future parents will be convinced that the “Rod” in question is Gene Roddenberry, so children will be raised on a steady diet of “Star Trek” and all of its spin-offs.

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