Too Big a Day

Ten years ago I started my own religion on the Amazon Discussion Forums. Here is the opening post on the Humoristians thread:
On Aug 20, 2007 2:18:41 PM PDT
Alph Wingoov Karen says:
I’ve decided to create a new religion. People belonging to this religion will call themselves “Humoristians.” Here are the 5 tenets:
1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.
2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.
3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe. (Editor’s note: Don’t let this one scare you. None of us is quite there, yet.)
4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).
5) You must enjoy the humor of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tom Lehrer, and Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re a Jerry Lewis kind of guy, you might want to think about starting your own religion – although we wish you nothing but good).

Not long after my initial post a poster who went by the handle “Golden Oldie EK” joined our fledgling church with this comment:

Hello, nice people. I would like very much to join your church. But I do have a question. Is it okay in your religion to also love the comedy of W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Tweetie Bird, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, and The Flintstones? Will you please accept my application for membership? (Actually, when I was a little kid, I always thought they should have made Walt Disney god. I mean, after all, here was a man who made the whole world fall in love with a drunken, lying frontiersman from Tennessee, and a little, black rat that wore white gloves and shoes. Church would have been so much fun: The Virgin Snow White and the Seven Apostles; “Our Father who art in Orlando, hallowed be thy name…”)

And if I am accepted for membership, do I have to be immersed in anything?

And so began my friendship with Randy, aka Golden Oldie EK. For several years Randy and my other fellow Humoristians did improv with each other on the Humoristian thread – playing off each other – sharing our beliefs, thoughts, opinions, and lives with each other. In some ways my friends in Humoristianity knew me better than a lot of my friends in my off-line life, even though we’d never actually met each other in the person. And eventually, as the Amazon forums began closing, we all met up again with each other on Facebook, and together authored a book, The Humoristian Chroniclesabout our experiences meeting each other on the forums.

Like me, Randy was a writer, and he shared his writing projects with me – looking for my editorial input – and I shared my writing projects with him. He was a wonderful support for me as a writer, and his encouragement meant a lot to me.

And this morning I learned, through a message from someone I’d never met, that Randy had died.

I needed a walk.

***

I went to nearby LaConner to pay my internet bill, and, after paying my bill, was drawn towards the Swinomish Channel on the west side of town. “I’m going to take you on an adventure with me, Randy,” I told my dear Humoristian friend. He’d always talked about visiting me out here. I decided today I’d bring him along with me – in my thoughts, if not in the person.

I walked along the boardwalk there, past all the touristy restaurants and gift shops. When I got to the end of the boardwalk I kept walking. I skirted an old warehouse, turned right on a side street, walked to the end of the street, and kept walking. I found myself at Pioneer Park. Stopped to check out the fish slide. And kept walking. I found a long driveway with a sign in front of it saying it was open to the public from 8:30 to 4:30, and turned onto the dirt road.

When I’d gone maybe 100 yards I passed a man coming from the other direction. “Am I walking down a private driveway?” I asked him. He told me yes, and no. It was a private driveway, but the general public had access to it. He told me that if I went further I’d come to a boatyard, and soon after that a trail that split – if I went left I’d find myself in the marshes where the hunters were shooting at birds – but if I went right I’d go on a trail that would take me to the top of a bluff and down to a beach. He suggested I go right. 🙂 I thanked him and…. yeah… kept walking.

A little further on I caught up with another walker. Like me, she had a camera with her, and I noticed her stopping along the road every now and then to take pictures. Not far beyond her there was a “boat graveyard” – weathered old boats piled up along the side of the road with blackberry vines growing over them. I began snapping pictures with my camera, and she joined me. We began talking then about photography, and the boats, and I asked her if she knew about the trail that would take me to the bluff. She did, and offered to take me there.

I’m glad I ran into her because I’m pretty sure I never would have found the trail without her – or I might have found myself on the bird marshes with bird shot flying around me – which would have made for an interesting experience, to be sure, but not the kind I needed today. We introduced ourselves to each other on the way – her name, she said, was Annabelle. She is from Paris, and works as a dance instructor and translator. As we talked we found we had friends in common – which is always fun – as well as a shared political perspective – which is, also, fun.

Annabelle led me to the bluff – which offered an amazing view of the Skagit Bay – and then down to the beach. After we snapped some pictures, Annabelle led me back up the trail and back into “downtown” LaConner – the two of us chatting like old friends the entire way.

Eventually we came to her house, where we hugged as old friends do, and I continued on my journey back to my car parked in front of the place where I’d paid my bill earlier. “How was that for an adventure?” I asked my friend, Randy. “We met a new friend today and found a new beach,” I told him.

As I drove home, with Randy still in my thoughts, I tinkered with the idea of just spending the rest of the day processing Randy’s death – trying to come to terms with it. But then I realized there was more good I could do for someone else today – I could take my Dad for a drive in the sunshine – and while I could still do some good for someone else, I might as well do it. So I put off processing Randy’s death for a little longer, and went to pick-up Daddy for a drive.

It wasn’t until maybe 3:00 or 4:00 that I finally found myself back home.

But the day – all of it, from start to finish – was just too much to process. I still can’t wrap my head around it – from the deep sense of loss that started my day, to the excitement of meeting a new friend later on. Today was just too big.

***

Dear friend – I brought you with me on an adventure today. We saw trumpeter swans and boat reflections, we made a new friend, and you talked with me about your latest story, and I talked with you about what I’m working on, and memories of you flashed into my head – your first appearance in the land of Humoristianity, the messages of support you sent me, your comic (and sometimes really profound) interjections on my FB posts, the night we all celebrated Obama’s win together, and the night we all realized that 2017 might not bring us the leader we’d hoped. I cherish all of the writing you sent me – I cherish your book of poems – I cherish everything you shared with me. I feel a deep loss right now. The world is not going to be the same without you in it. My FB posts are not going to be the same without your comments attached to them. I love you, brother.
Karen

 

 

 

 

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Long Live Humoristianity!

On August 20, 2007, Karen says:
I’ve decided to create a new religion. People belonging to this religion will call themselves “Humoristians.” Here are the 5 tenets:
1) You must be able to laugh at yourself.
2) You must be able to recognize how ludicrous your beliefs might appear to others.
3) You must want nothing but good for everyone, everywhere in the universe.
4) You must have a natural aversion to meetings, committees, and scheduled events (as we will be having none of those).
5) You must enjoy the humor of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tom Lehrer, and Jerry Seinfeld (if you’re a Jerry Lewis kind of guy, you might want to think about starting your own religion – although we wish you nothing but good).

So, have I told you about the time I started my own religion? After I’d been on the Amazon religion discussion forum for a month or so I woke up one morning with the voice of God (or something) in my head, telling me it was time to, yea and verily, start my own religion and stuff. I had not been on the forum long, but I had been on long enough to realize that the one thing that seemed to be desperately needed was the opportunity to laugh at ourselves. It seemed to me that some people were taking themselves and their beliefs waaay too seriously.

I started a thread called “Humoristians” and was soon joined by some of my favorite characters on the forum – atheists and agnostics, a pantheist, several Buddhists, a Lutheran, a Methodist or two, a self-avowed sophist, a couple of people with Mormon roots, a Discordian, and a host of other personalities from a wide array of beliefs, backgrounds, and geographic locations.

And ohmygosh, it was fun!

Our fledgling little church grew rapidly and reached people around the globe. One of the highlights, for me, was when we heard from a soldier in Afghanistan who told us she’d found our thread when she was recovering from an illness and our nonsensical little dialogue totally cheered her up.

Eventually we all drifted off the forum and the Humoristian temple there closed its doors. But we met up again with each other on Facebook, and Humoristianity continues to live – although in a different form. (The founding and history of the Humoristian church can be found in our book, The Humoristian Chronicles.)

I have a difficult time relating to people who can’t laugh at themselves, or let me laugh at myself. And I have a difficult time relating to people who feel the need to “correct” my thought, manage me, fix me, or “pray” for me without being asked by me to do so.

I have found that sermonizing bossy britches busybodies can be found amongst pretty much every group of people – both religious and non-religious. I tend to avoid sermonizing bossy britches busybodies – even the Christian Scientist ones. Maybe especially the Christian Scientist ones. This may sound weird, but I really have very little in common with those Christian Scientists who can’t occasionally laugh at themselves and their circumstances. We may all believe that God is “Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love” (the synonyms given by Mary Baker Eddy in the Christian Science textbook), and we may all believe that God heals, but if a Christian Scientist can’t laugh at herself then her approach to life and its challenges is going to be very different from mine. I believe I actually have more in common with, say, an atheist Humoristian than I do with a Christian Scientist non-Humoristian.

Just as Bossybritches Busybodies can be found in pretty much every group of people, Humoristians can, too. I count amongst my friends Jewish Humoristians, atheist Humoristians, Christian Scientist Humoristians, and Buddhist, Catholic, and Methodist Humoristians, among others.

There are times when, if I were to be asked what religion I affiliate myself with, I think I might actually be inclined to answer “Humoristianity”. A sense of humor about life, and about themselves, is the one thing the people I feel a kinship with all have in common – whether they call themselves atheists, Catholics, Christian Scientists, Buddhists, pantheists, Lutherans, Methodists, or Mormons.

Long live Humoristianity! Long may we don her Groucho glasses and play her kazoos!
– excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist: All Things New

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As Another Day Comes to a Close

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
As another day comes to a close may you rejoice in the fellowship you have experienced today – may you remember every act of kindness, every smile, every exchange of good will. May you remember every puppy who wagged its tail at you, every kitty who jumped into your lap, every hand shake, hug, and high five. The world is full of beautiful people. You are one of them. May you remember THAT, too. 🙂

You are not alone out there. We are all in this together.
Love,
Karen

together

To My Superhero Friends

My dear Humoristian hooligan heroes,

I am inspired by you. Your humor, your courage, you ability to “lol” in the face of threats and intimidation, your willingness to stand up to bullies and bigots without a second’s thought – you are the stuff of Superhero legend. Maybe your arms can’t stretch like rubber, and you can’t burn through metal with your steely gaze – but you’ve got better gifts than those – unstoppable courage, irrepressible joy, pugnacious good humor, and hearts full of love for humanity. Bless you, dear friends. I’m so glad to know each and every precious one of you.

Let’s go out there and save the world!  
Karen

The Sleeping Giant Awakes

My dear Humoristian hooligans,

Fear not! No one can take our joy from us! And now is our chance to prove it. Let us march forth into battle against greed, hate, me-firstness, indifference, ignorance, arrogance, fear, pride, pomposity, spite, smugness, stodginess, complacency, and bossybritches bullying and bigotry, with rainbow flags flying and really cool pussy hats affixed to our heads, A “sleeping giant” has awakened and it is filled with a “terrible resolve” (Isoroku Yamamoto). Ooh baby. The world ain’t seen nothing, yet. 🙂

Yea and verily, let’s go out there and make the world a better place than it was yesterday.

xoxoxo
Karen

my-joy

Go out there and work your magic!

My dear Humoristian hooligans-

If ever the world needed your kind-hearted sass and your good-natured love of humanity it is now. We are living in interesting times, for sure – but you were made for these times – and the world needs what you have to offer. May your love and courage touch and uplift all you meet today. May your sense of humor lighten the burden of those who are athirst for joy in a desert of responsibility and solemnity. May your smile be contagious, and your joy transforming.

Go out there and work your magic!
Karen

Love the Hell out of the Cranky, Crabby, and Crusty

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
The next week may test our mettle. But we shall continue in the Humoristian way. We shall (cue in the music here – something rousing – maybe the theme song from Chariots of Fire) continue in our mission to spread laughter across our planet 24-7; we shall love the hell out of the cranky, crabby, and crusty; we shall bring mirthful merriment to the morose and melancholy; and hope and courage to the fearful and discouraged. We will love as the sun shines – without discrimination or agenda. And we will find the joy and beauty in each and every day. Go out there and make ’em laugh! Amen.
Karen