Saturday, February 6, 2010

my beautiful cookie cutter

There are those -- me among them -- who are wary of the cookie-cutter approach that can be applied in life -- the one-size-fits-all morality or philosophy or religion that may contain some nourishing discipline but is also prone to doing real human damage.

Examples are all around, from politics to religion to psychology to athletics to war to ... well, pick your poison. This morning, for example, I will go an stand on a peace picket line and someone is bound to don a sign that says, in essence, "no more war."

I haven't got the energy this morning for one of my windy disquisitions on the multi-faceted situations that call out cookie-cutter responses.

What I do have the energy for is an interest in my own abilities to apply my own cookie-cutter. For someone who cares about cookie cutters, this strikes me as the only cookie cutter worth noticing because it is the only one about which I can honestly do anything.

Mostly, of course, I would prefer not to do anything about my cookie cutter. I am too busy being convinced by my convictions and the evidence I can adduce to support and solidify them. "War is a poor choice" ... "Buddhism is a good tool"..."anti-abortion activists give me the whimwhams" ... "homosexuality in the military deserves the reconsideration it is getting." For each, I can make arguments and reach conclusions that fit nicely inside some cookie-cutter mold.

But the old refrigerator magnet tells the tale as well as anything else I can think of: "Life is what happens while you were busy making plans."

No matter how beautiful and compelling my gingerbread men or Christmas trees or valentine hearts come out of the oven, still the cookie cutter cannot tell the tale.

If anyone were after a bit of happiness in life, I think it would be necessary to make peace on this front ... my own front, my own cookie cutter, my own sometimes desperately important conclusions, my own biases however well-intentioned. Seeing the cookie cutters that others may apply is not enough: It may offer a smug comfort, but it doesn't address what I can do anything about.

I like the idea of a bit of happiness.

So I guess I'd better get to work on my cookie cutters.

Beautiful as they may be, I guess I'd prefer the truth.