But I am a Cnidarian, not a Christian, and it is my prerogative to fail to treat my body as a Temple if I so choose.
As Cnidarians, what we need to understand is that the world around us is a Temple. Even more precisely Nature, outside of our bounds of human decay, is a Temple. It is all part of the Cnidarian Nature Preserve, and we have wreaked more than our fair share of havoc on it.
So... How to make people (we are mere idiot humans, after all) understand this?
Here is a simple concept. Think of yourself as a tenant. Think of the Jellyfish as your landlords.
Visualize Human Production and Over-Production
Here is a plus side: humans are capable of producing nice things. Hereís a down side: humans are capable of over-producing tons of not so nice things.
We have art. Sometimes we have beautiful art that the artist really poured their heart, soul, and creative essence into. Sometimes we have ugly art, either ugly art with merit or ugly art without merit that someone rather uncaringly churned out for whatever reason. And of course I always did appreciate the term Convulsive Beauty (which I first heard from Lance Olsen, may the Jellies bless him). Some things may look ugly to a person who easily cringes away and wants simple ease in life, and those same things may look beautiful and deep to someone who isnít unwilling to admit that there is a lot of pain and horror in life and the world.
Now picture a beautiful meadow being bulldozed and turned into condos or a housing development. All of the houses and condos look about the same, they were hastily and shoddily assembled. Walking or driving by them brings no particular aesthetic pleasure. And what was lost in favour of building them? A lovely meadow, perhaps with a burbling creek and sometimes even crayfish (I used to find them in little meadow creeks as a kid!).
Iíll always remember the one down the street from me when I was growing up. There was an enormous shrub clump with ďpathsĒ (if you were small enough, anyway) to wander through and get lost in. There were tall prairie grasses and grasshoppers, and no one would have objected to the grasshoppers eating there. They didnít destroy the meadows. People did that. There was also a creek, and there were garter snakes. It was all a paradise for a kid and her miniature schnauzers.
I remember other meadows by friendsí houses. I suppose they are all housing developments now.
So obviously these hastily assembled, rather boring-looking, houses that were an exchange for much nicer meadows arenít the correct ones for this thesis. Who cares about them? The people who live in them and have their precious belongings within their walls care about them, at least while they live there. At least to the extent that they want their family and belongings to be safe while they live there. The mortgage owners, or landlords, and anyone making money off of the houses probably care about them to the extent that they are a source of money.
Thereís a big deal. I say this sarcastically. Personally I think they are eyesores, and I miss the meadows.
But I donít feel this way about all human creations, or even about all human buildings. As noted above, we have our moments when we really put our hearts and souls, or at least a lot of painstaking thought and visualization, into creating things. When we donít just slop it all together to make some quick bucks.
Visualize a Building You Give a Damn About
This is not difficult for me. When I was 10, we lived in a little camper trailer in the dirt driveway of the house we were having built in the mountains. We put a lot of work into it ourselves. Okay, okay, I was 10 and probably not the biggest possible help. I was in school, too. I remember doing things like hauling in rocks for the grey lichen-covered rock wall we had behind a wood-burning stove in the living room.
At the time there werenít many houses in the area. I thought our house was beautiful, and it was surrounded by Nature. I loved the house, I also loved roaming the mountains around it. And I loved my moments of silent peace, sitting on the rocks near the house. There was a lot of wildlife, and I loved that too.
Eventually there were more houses, and ugly houses, and even ugly condos... and I think somewhere along the way my heart turned pretty black. I still loved the house, still found it beautiful, still loved what remained of Nature around it. Unfortunately it is in the hands of strangers now. If it were in my hands, I feel I would try very hard to reverently maintain it. Whether or not I would succeed is in question, as is always the case.
When I moved to Denver, after various excursions to various far places, and various episodes of Deprogramming, I realized that even in the cities there are man-made buildings that I can appreciate.
I lived in a Victorian house, and then a Craftsman house, and now a Tudor. It was easy to admire all of the artistic design that went into the Victorian and Craftsman houses (seems the design always gets to be less with each new era of homes). The Tudor, at least, is very cute (it charmed me!) and still had thoughtful design put into it. And people got creative with it since its initial creation, I canít deny that Iíve gotten creative as well... though a lot of my focus has been on surrounding it with as many different plants as I possibly can. Yes, yes, of course I need my own little Preserve in my yard even if I am in the middle of a pretty big city.
Aside from houses there are Gothic cathedrals, churches, and theatres. There are numerous old buildings of many styles that are historical landmarks, and deservedly so. Gothic architecture got its name from people who looked at the original Gothic buildings, said ďewwwwwĒ, and named it after the ďdistastefulĒ Goths (by which I mean various rampaging German tribes who may have been a bit smelly but, hey, at least they werenít Romans... until they got assimilated and then took over and re-assimilated amongst the Romans too many times, anyway). The people who disrespectfully named Gothic architecture obviously didnít have crystal balls to witness the future of bland condos.
Otherwise they would have quite revelled in the beauty of Gothic architecture!
Me, I love it. Iíve been fascinated with it since my childhood. Back in the old days, hundreds or thousands of years ago most commonly (but not always), there wasnít quite such a pressing need to hastily slop together constant thousands of houses and strip malls for the ever-growing human masses. There was population pressure, yes, there was obviously quite a lot of killing and conquesting over that. But there were so many more buildings that a lot of thought and creativity and care were put into the design of.
Now think about whether there are any old buildings that you have ever admired. It doesnít matter if it is a house, theatre, library, church, mosque, or general landmark. Picture yourself living in one of these buildings as a renter. You know itís a cool old building. You know itís a wonder that it is still standing at all, and at the very least you donít want to help it collapse any faster than it was already going to. Maybe you want to actively upkeep it, help it last for as long as possible.
Even if you are a lazy, self-centered, slob who would let this cool old building collapse into a moldy mouse and roach-infested heap around you, with cracks in the walls turning into holes in the walls, and roof damage degrading to lack of roof, etc etc, until itís all too late... (Well, hey, we are mere humans, we all have our flaws!) Maybe even then you can still visualize wanting to be mentally and physically capable of maintaining it.
If youíve managed this concept, move along to the next one.
Visualize a Damn Cool Landlord
Have you ever had a damn cool landlord who you really wanted to do right by?
Maybe, maybe not. Honestly, I despised my last landlord. As a result I hope she really was my last landlord, building-wise (I know Nature and the Jellyfish are my true landlords and I have the utmost respect for them). Not only did she suck in several ways, toward the end she sent people in to chop down the bushes and trees.
I had a spectacular snowball bush there that Iíd been maintaining for most of a decade. It was tall and beautiful, visitors admired it and often said it was the grandest snowball bush they had ever seen. The only saving grace in the tragedy that came was that part of it had layered itself into a nearby container and successfully rooted. I was getting close to moving, and figured that meant the bush wanted to come with me -- at least in part. I severed it from the main bush. Within the next few days the entire bush was gone. Chopped down. Murdered!
Amidst visualizing all sorts of violent revenge fantasies (at least I was), St. Young and I grabbed the container with the layered branch and hid it so they couldnít kill it along with everything else. It is now a smaller bush in my current yard, growing more and more every year.
So letís just say I know there are plenty of uncool landlords, and I can easily think of landlords who I will not be visualizing during this part of my thesis. Unless, of course, I lapse off into another round of revenge fantasies.
If you canít think of an actual example of a damn cool landlord, simply think of a person who you consider to be damn cool. Then picture yourself renting a damn cool building from them. They are trusting you to maintain this building, to keep it in good shape for them. And they are so damn cool that you really donít want to upset them by showing them a hideous ruin next time they drop by to check on their property.
Are you there yet? Do you need help? Even if you donít personally know any damn cool people, maybe there is someone you donít know but who you have that general impression of. Perhaps your favourite writer, artist, musician, philosopher, or anything. Really, anything. Recently I was stalking a plant nerd, who I happen to think is damn cool, by going to his classes whenever he had them. I most definitely sure as hell would not want to go stomping through his gardens, ripping up his plants, and destroying them. Well, I wouldnít want to do that to anyoneís gardens... but thatís not really my point. I guess my point is that if I was going to do such a thing in general, Iím sure it would be particularly embarrassing if he caught me destroying his gardens after trusting me to take care of them (which wouldnít happen, he can take much better care of them than I can, thatís why I admire his plant nerdness).
If you never really thought of anyone as damn cool, and quite frankly never really gave a shit about anyone other than yourself, then maybe you can at least...
Visualize a Righteous Vengeful Landlord
You were living in a damn cool well-designed building. You had a damn cool landlord who really did good things in life, and who really cared, and who really trusted you to take care of their damn cool building like they very lovingly did before you.
And you didnít live up to that trust. The building rotted, cracked, and caved in. You turned the yard into such a toxic dump that the toxicity spread around, killing everything around it, becoming creepingly contagious. Not only was everything in ruins, it was all a horrible, hideous, destructive, contaminating mess.
One day your damn cool landlord came by and saw this. To say the very least, their heart was shattered into a million pieces. And they noticed the spreading contamination, and they cried all the more over that. They had put this into your hands, and look what happened.
Maybe the landlord popped some Valium or went out for a beer and tried to calm down. Maybe not. Maybe the landlord flew into a rage, ran up to you, and strangled the living hell out of you for being such a treacherous and careless abomination. Maybe after having a beer to try to calm down, the landlord bought a flamethrower and used it to char you and all of your contamination into less harmful ash. (Which isnít to say ash canít increase the salinity of soils... maybe they then hauled away the ash, or the rain leached it, or the hazmat crew did something with it while cleaning up the rest of the mess. Who knows. It isnít really the issue here. Fire is something that happens in nature, anyway, and it is often a necessary cleansing purge.)
At which point, the damn cool landlord would now only have a barren wasteland. But at least a barren wasteland can be restored, once the contaminants that caused it are removed.
Honestly, you deserved you and your toxic mess getting charred out of existence by the landlordís Righteous Flamethrower of Vengeance. You really, really, deserved it. And it was necessary for the good of everything on the borders of your toxic radiance that hadnít yet been contaminated, anyway.
Visualize... the World...
This shouldnít be too terribly difficult, unless you happen to live as a hermit in the wilds somewhere (in which case I both envy you, and wonder how it is that you happen to be reading this). Simply step outside and take a look around you.
Itís really kind of disturbing, when you take the time to think about it. I walk outside and I see lots of pavement, lots of cars, lots of ugly carelessly constructed buildings, lots of people, lots of litter blowing around. About the only saving grace is that I can then breathe deeply and look at my cute house and my gardens. Or I can breathe deeply and think about Righteous Flamethrowers of Vengeance, whichever happens to work at any given moment.
In the times of the Jellyfish, this world was a beautiful tropical Nature preserve. They cared for it, and everything flourished. Those who became the great Space Jellies felt content to leave it, and to further their work in the Universe.
The Jellyfish are our damn cool landlords. This world is their beautifully and artfully constructed ďbuildingĒ that they put so much care into. We are their tenants.
We have our choices. We can be good tenants, who appreciate the beauty of this world that is on lease to us and who do our best to preserve it. We can have our hearts in the right place, and try to do what we can even if we fail in many ways (again, we are mere humans, it would be terribly audacious to think mere humans could come remotely close to being perfect). Or we can be completely self-absorbed slobs who spread contamination everywhere around us and never give the least bit of a damn about it.
If we choose the latter option, then we most definitely will deserve it when the Jellyfish come to flay us all in the Fiery Rain of Cnidocytes.
If some of us try to do better, but the majority of the people around us fall into the latter category... Well, the solace in our suffering the Fiery Rain will be in knowing that all of those damn assholes who sure as hell deserve it finally got what was coming to them.
And of course we can always hope. We can hope that people, despite being mere humans, will manage to give somewhat enough of a damn. Then maybe the damn cool world of the damn cool Jellyfish wonít completely collapse, or at least everything wonít become toxic sludge.
I should probably note here that some Cnidarians are masochists and actually look forward to the Fiery Rain. This is fine, of course, as long as they donít get impatient and actively try to bring it on faster by intentionally disrespecting the Nature Preserve of the Jellyfish. I am well aware of what the frustrations of life can be like, as Iím sure most of us are, but there are plenty of ways to fulfill at least some of your masochistic desires while you are waiting.
In essence: Thereís no need to make an entire building fall on your head just because you wanted a little headache.
It is also easy to have moments (I have tons of them!), when you start thinking thoughts along the lines of ďPeople are hopeless! Itís time for the damn cool landlord to come with the damn cool flamethrower and rebuild everything from the ashes and ruins!Ē. But it is not yet time. The nice old Victorian house or Gothic cathedral or whatever you chose to picture the world as during the course of this thesis is still standing. Itís in dire need of some (read: a lot of) work, but it is not hopeless yet. Yet!
Hopefully this message, brought to you by Our Blasted Lady of the Jellyfish as a thesis in simple human terms, has been clear enough for any layman to understand. I'm sure you can't even begin to imagine how difficult it was for me to speak this patiently and rationally.
St. Sailing, The Blasted One, Mo E BS, FCB, LoA, IFL, PJ, BO