I was thinking about Santa Claus lately, wondering what role this concept could possibly have played in human psyches to have grown into a cliche in modern life, and by what route did it become a symbol for the unreliability of belief.
And then I remembered that I am breathing. The sun is shining. Life abounds on all sides. Food and water are plentiful. I am blessed and live in abundance.
Some agency has arranged a miraculous creation all around me and I can appreciate that fact. Human bodies have very specific requirements for viability, and those requirements are met exactly, right here every day. The more I think about the probabilities of this, the more astounding it seems.
It makes no difference if one prefers to think of our circumstances as the endpoint of a non-directed evolutionary process set in motion through purely physical processes, or if one prefers a personified deity, a personal God, or other kinds of religious ideation to explain it all. It has been arranged that we live and prosper.
And one way to wrap up the whole concept is to celebrate an image of someone who arrives in the middle of the darkest, coldest part of the year bringing gifts overflowing.
I wonder how many layers of meaning and truth were compressed into this one image through the millenia, in storytelling around winter fires.
So, how did belief become attached to this image, which, on some level, describes pure fact? And why is it now an almost dead symbol?
Are we still creating rich images of the mysteries of our lives? Or are we killing them all off, allowing them to be subverted into commercial props?
Are we the same species as the one which created the original archetype of Santa?
I think that we are. I think that we need and want these rich images that live just at the boundary between hard physical reality and the intangible realms of idea, spirit, mind. I think that they are essential nutrients in a system of meaning, truth, and clarity that re-balance our psyches, reminding us that our circumstances are largely beyond our control, reminding us to honor the unknown.
We are, in fact, in the same position as our distant ancestors: what we know is far, far outweighed by that which we do not know.
As far as we understand, humans living just beyond the limits of history had mythologies involving cycles and fertility. Modern day mythologies generally involve warrior cultures (c.g. Star Wars) fighting over methods of control (centralized vs. democratic) using differentiating technologies (mass produced vs. eclectic, non-uniform).
Circles have flattened into straight lines. Fertility has become its opposite: warfare. Now, which is more primitive, a culture making rich images of its truths, or a culture which glorifies its interest in destruction?
Maybe human history is actually running backwards. Wouldn't that be a shock? After all, it occurs to me that, in our curved universe, circles are natural while straight lines are theoretically impossible.
So, maybe we don't actually exist, but are precursers of ancient humanity, a sort of nightmare before dawn, figments of their imagination, theoretically impossible.