In the movie Bedazzled (the demented Peter Cook/Dudley Moore original, not the disappointing Brendan Fraser remake) the devil is portrayed as one who spends less time causing wars, plagues, and disasters than simple aggravations. He puts scratches in record albums (remember those?) and causes a pigeon to poop on a clergyman, resulting in a blasphemy.
This concept seems to me a remarkably true one. Day-to-day annoyances are more than enough with which to do battle. I am often heard to cry, “Stop fighting me!”
A sock that insolently falls behind the dryer. A key that requires interminable fidgeting. A garden hose that refuses to relinquish its kink. A drawer that somehow entangles its contents so that the one item you need brings unwanted friends along. All the trash that when tossed at a wastebasket bounces off the rim and onto the floor. A zipper or a button or a snap that simply will not close, dammit. Plastic wrap! Stop fighting me!!
The world becomes an obstacle. One’s mood sours, which leads to snapping at others which leads to hurt feelings as well as guilt and shame, and on downward we go until we’re doing the devil’s work for him.
It’s almost a relief to have governments, banks and overpaid executives to blame for things. Most people I know have said that 2008 was a bad year. For me, it wasn’t a catastrophe but it certainly was not much fun.
I’ve noticed something interesting as we approach 2009. Experts predict a difficult year ahead, but the general public seems surprisingly optimistic. I believe this is for two reasons. First, Obama. More than just a man anymore, he is a symbol of hope for many of us. Good luck, Barack. You’ll need it.
Second, because ’08 was unpleasant or worse, there is a compelling need for it to be over. It may be wishful thinking that the change of a digit will also mean the change of our fortunes, especially since New Year’s is such an arbitrary date anyway. Still, people see the change of the calendar as a new beginning that could finally bring blessed relief.
Despite the odds, I truly wish us all well.