By Rev. Rhys Owens
In the years when I was recently out of high school, which are not so long ago, people always tended to comment on how laid back and calm I was. Even a couple years later while I was suffering with paranoia and high anxiety in a Massachusetts psychiatric ward, people commented on how calm and reserved I remained. People knew for a fact that I smoked a lot of pot, however I did not.
One day while in a grocery store parking lot with my mother, as a child of middle school age, as we waited for my grandmother, I looked around at the people walking into the store or getting in their cars. I wondered about them. I was young like this in the ’90s; everyone was a Cynic. So I was confused about the reasons for things as they were. I asked my mom, if there was no God, why do people have to act any particular way; if there is nothing that says that they have to do anything. Whatever she said was not remembered. Today, if I asked that question, I would be told that people have to live by rules, else all would be chaos. But I thought all was chaos anyway. And if I acted all ridiculous over little things, like everybody else did, besides looking foolish, I’d only be adding to that chaos I perceived all around. I wanted to be an artist.
I did not see The Big Lebowski during the 1990s; I saw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Kingpin. These were movies with proactive people, but they were drunk and high all the time. And they laid around, and seemed to get things done anyway. In the early ’90s, I inherited my uncle’s old flannel shirts. It was a style around called ‘grunge.’ Okay. Later, I inherited my uncle’s over-sized and bright dress pants and jackets. I looked like a peacock. I looked like somebody off Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I looked like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. So, who cares. But I felt a bond there. The Big Lebowski‘s stoner vibe was more subtle than the former, but the music was similar at parts, and the feeling was there.
I saw the Dude movie in the 21st century. I felt kinship there. But, so what? I was alone. I was me. It so happened that I was naturally inclined. It invited me, in my joys and my sufferings, just as several other movies, and music did. But these movies were comedies. I saw Woody Allen movies, and Marx Brothers, and I felt: This is real life. I saw science fiction and fantasy. I said: This is real life.
Once men were a generation of Fausts. Then they said, we’re all like a character from Dostoyevsky; then it was Kafkaesque (After Hours is another good movie, by the way). Life is full of caricatures, and this stands out now more than ever. I am laid back, I am unemployed, and I just listen to music and try to live that ol’ life of mine. So I’m kinda like the Dude. So what?
When Dudeism was discovered, I could say: so what? but I could also feel involved, and even reinforced. So what if I was just a guy? What is fashion? A career? A family? A home? A place in society? Society and all that stuff is around, and so am I. But, what I mean to say is: Dudeism lets you say that, and feel religious about it. It can be a release of anger, and a relaxation. I just want to write books, and travel around and look at things. Some just want to bowl; or paint; or play guitar; or sleep. Some just want to live their life. If something comes up, good or bad, it’s not that hard to get yourself prepared to try and go handle it. Not nearly as hard as it’s made out to be.
I’m rambling a little here, but so what? I’m saying that if you relate to a movie, fine. If a large group of people get together and relate, that becomes profound. The Human Comedy is profound. It is serious. If I am an outlaw on my way out West, or back East, and I stop for a while in Dude Town, that is just as fine. We understand how one another shoots, how he plays, how he drinks. An oasis with religious profundity is what it is. And at the end of the day, you can laugh at it and feel mellow, for it is a joke, too.
So no matter where I ramble off to. It’s good to know that there are others out there, taking ‘er easy for all the sinners. That there’s a place you can go, where nobody needs to know your name. Where all you got to do is sit in the Bar, and everybody’ll watch out for you. And welcome you to come whenever you like, and stay as long as you like.
When your religion is based on a comedy, all you need to do is laugh. Laugh when you’re in trouble. Laugh when you’re being threatened or attacked. Laugh when you’re alone. And suffer. Because that makes the laughter feel better. After a while. And everything, in general, turns out just how it does. Which is no skin off your back. Because you knew that it would all along.
Rev Jim Evans says
Sounds like Taoism to me.
Rev C. Hardy says
I…err….well yeah. I asked my mom a question once when I was 12….I suppose I should say I only EVER asked my mom a question once, when I was about 12. It was about school and what subject I should do, or something like that. She said “For Gods sake its your life Chris”. I learnt two things from this. People lie and its impossable to eat 48 bars of chocolate in one go without throwing up. I am now 52 and have a wonderful life, two motorbikes, an ex wife, and a boss who can’t remember my name. I still can’t decide which of these gives me the most pleasure. This life of mine must belong to someone else because I have done nothing what so ever to deserve it….nor have I managed to write anything constructive about the above article. But hey, even thats an achevement aint it?
Orthodox Dude says
I hear ya, man. Everyone always harps on the observers of life. Everyone says life is about purpose, goals, and looking forward and I’m glad to know there are more like myself who feel life is an end in itself and should be lived for its own sake. Dudeism, slacker movies and lazy literature are a godsend, really. Without them we’d all be wondering around thinking we’re the one’s insane. Keep on keepin’ on my friend.
Lao Dude says
Thanks for being the man for your time and place, Rev.
As a recent 40 yo, I suppose I’m just now getting around to asking the questions your 12 yo self did (which is ironic since you are 12 years older than me).
As a bi-polar dude myself, I relate to you on a personal level (I like your style, Dude) and I have finally realized that the way I am is the way I am and that collection of natural inclinations will be the “Man in Me” for the rest of my life. Perhaps my medication could be called “Take her easy” pills.
I’ve stopped trying to look to the future…life goes on. I’m pretty handy at writing and teaching so I plan to find ways to do that (right now I write for a non-profit and it’s just challenging enough not to be stressful).
My kids are a few years away from college and we have no money with which to send them but no worries. I’m not even sure if college will be what they want or need. I hope they reject the ethos of our time and find their own path..and fit right in thar.
I don’t know what in God’s name I’m blathering about. We’re all trying to grasp something…it’s our evolutionary nature to seek out that next thing..that woolly mammoth or new shelter. Even people who live a life of non-grasping often find they grasp at the state of non-grasping.
Shoosh, lost my train of thought…
FYI: I have a document on my DropBox with a collection of very Dude quotes.
This one is now in there:
“When your religion is based on a comedy, all you need to do is laugh.”