When Life Hands You Hemorrhoids…
If karma truly exists, then I must have murdered a baby to deserve hemorrhoids this bad. It feels like my ass is being torn apart with a razor blade every time I go to take a shit. For the past month I’ve just been trying to ignore it. But I guess when you don’t take care of certain problems, they only get worse. It started off feeling kind of like a paper cut—but now it’s bleeding, it’s irritated, and it’s burning, sort of like living with a mini-holocaust in my pants.
But what can my asshole teach us about personal success? Lots!
Most people have had to deal with metaphorical hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. They start off as part of you—veins, pumping blood around your body, filled with the elixir of life. Maybe this is a significant other, or a feeling of fulfillment at your job, or maybe its how oxycodone felt to you the first time. But then slowly after a while, the veins start becoming crazy and compromise your happiness. What will you do? Will you confront them right away and let them slide back into your anus where you’ll live happily in perfect harmony? Or will you let them swell, and swell, to the point where they become so big and externally aggravating that you actually require surgery to get them removed? Naturally, you’d chose to seek immediate medical attention and avoid any larger issues, like a normal, sane human being. But as we all know, it’s not always easy to make good choices and be sane, especially when we’re not even aware that choices are available to us sometimes.
At this moment in the Islamic calendar, we stand between two holidays in which truth is performed with the spilling of blood: Eid al-Adha, which was celebrated this past week, and Ashura, which will take place late in November. In both cases, the annual observations are accompanied by debate over the meaning of this blood and how “religion” is supposed to look.
Last week, Muslims around the world observed Eid al-Adha, which marks the completion of the hajj. The central character in the story of hajj is not Muhammad, but Abraham, whose willingness to sacrifice what he loved most in the world—his own son—is imitated when pilgrims throw stones at walls representing the devil. In honor of Abraham’s absolute submission to God, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha with the slaughter of a goat or lamb.
Towards the end of November, Shi’a Muslims will commemorate another sacrifice: the martyrdom of Husayn, Muhammad’s grandson, on the day of Ashura. Husayn gave his life in an impossible war against the unjust powers of his time. In a controversial practice, many observers of Ashura will mark their love for Husayn on their own bodies, whipping their backs with blades or lacerating their heads. Even within Shi’a communities, the practice’s Islamic appropriateness is debated. The image of men parading through the streets, drenched in their own blood, has become ammunition for more than one polemical agenda: Sunnis might use the practice to say that Shi’as are not legitimate Muslims, and Islamophobes look at the scene as evidence that Islam at large is fanatical and violent.
We asked a bunch of people in Brooklyn (including the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker!!) how long they thought we’d have until global warming kills us all. They weren’t very optimistic.