Caveat Emptor. Buyer Beware. If you’re not Christian, no need to get butthurt about the fact that I am. Just consider the scriptures as you would a good quote or fable.
My grandfather was the patriarch. He was an Olympic swimmer, a wealthy man, well known and respected.
I was his first grandchild. For my first birthday, he had a party. Open bar for 1200 people, at least 15 ice sculptures, 10 wedding sized cakes, and all the delicacies the world has to offer. I’m told the event was raved about for years.
That’s what the public saw.
With family, he was the fucking boss. Years ago, when the extended family would go out to eat, there were no menus. My grandfather would order for everyone. He didn’t ask us what we liked or wanted. He didn’t give a shit. He knew the restaurant, he’d picked it, and he knew what was good. The food tasted better, simply because he chose it.
Now, my father is the patriarch. The loser family members beg him for help weekly. The up-n-coming pander for his investment. Children run to him for stories of the old days. Women seek his compliments. Men seek his rewards. Couples seek his blessings. Everybody asks for his advice, few take it.
As a child, I absorbed and adopted everything in my surroundings. I recall the propaganda posters in school always said “Smile! You’ll make someone’s day!” So I smiled a lot. I was genuinely, happy. But couldn’t figure out why the strong men in my life didn’t smile. It’s what happy, successful people do, right?
“Oh well,” I shrugged, “I’ll be a better leader, a happy one.”
I was a daft little shit. A perfect nice guy. A deluded beta that didn’t deserve an ounce of what I was given.
The patriarch is strong, that’s clear. But when I look at the patriarch I see at best stoic, often burdened. Always seemingly on the edge of irritation but never actually being. Everyone around seems to think he’s feeling down circumstantially because he’s old or maybe his health is waining. Maybe he’s just got something on his mind today.
But now, I know. I know why the patriarch doesn’t smile.
My scripture says, “In much wisdom is much grief, increased knowledge increases sorrow.”
The patriarch knows the truth. He knows that the world is an incredibly evil place. He knows that happiness is a myth. He sees through all the nice guys and knows women are just the most mature children in the house. He knows he can’t trust anyone. He knows emotion is weakness and stoicism power. He knows that when people are nice to him, they are just trying to get something from him, even if it’s just his attention, even if they rationalize away their selfishness; they only want to take.
He is often accused of being selfish himself, but knows self-interest, isn’t selfishness. He knows nothing is fair or innocent.
He knows if you work hard, you can provide for your family but will lack success. He knows great financial success comes from usury and manipulation, posturing and cunning. He knows that he has to choose one, and his family has a lot of needs. His desire for more honest work, often puts him in a garden, the yard, fixing up the house, or building in his work shop whenever he’s free.
He knows everyone above, beside, and below is trying to steal what he has earned, even if they don’t know it.
My scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” The person asking that question is God, Himself. The next line says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways.”
This progression implies that even the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the universe must use external tests to find out what is inside the heart. Other scriptures support this.
The patriarch knows it.
And so the patriarch is sad. He can never be happy. He can never trust. He can never be himself. He can never open up. He can never let his guard down. No sighing, no crying, just silently dying.
That’s his position in life, to die for his family, in a Christ like, sacrificial, unfair, undeserved manner. A slow death by choice.
The patriarch’s position is to fashion a dome of protection around his family. A dome made not of wood and stones but of his own flesh: arms, back, and chest. He wraps his strong loving arms around them for safety, warmth, and kindness. His back turned to the world, is riddled with bullets. He shows his family only his clean, strong front chest. In doing so, he creates a tiny, little fantasy world, a protective bubble for his wife, children, even grandchildren in which to live, play, smile, and be happy.
He can’t talk about his pain because then he would ruin the fantasy. He can’t explain the truth because it would ruin the dream. He can’t show his scars because it would wreck them. They can never see his mangled back, only his clean chest. The same way you protect a small child from horror films, he protects his family from the real world. He tells his wife she’s his partner but knows he’s lying. He’s her protector. If she knew the truth, it would crush her. So he lives the lie, for her benefit. He wears the mask, for her security. He lets her believe that the neck turns the head, but everyone knows the mind, hidden inside the head, commands the neck.
And everyone gets to be happy, while he wastes away. He is not God, he cannot rejuvenate. Like waves on a beach, each bullet erodes, contorts, deforms and disfigures his flesh-made dome until he is a shell of his once strong, youthful self. But still, they only see his clean chest.
A patriarch’s reward.
The closest the patriarch can come to happiness is living vicariously through his family. Seeing them smile and live in paradise. Happily, never knowing the truth. This gives him moments of happiness, more accurately forgetfulness. This is what scripture calls joy. It’s not happiness because happiness is a delusion. Solomon writes, “All is Vanity.” But to smile when a child gets excited about drawing their stick figure, something that is absolutely meaningless in reality, is the meaning of joy.
If you want to thank a patriarch, ask for nothing, look him in the eye, shake his hand and say, “I know it took a lot. But you made me happy. You made life good for all of us.” If you hold eye contact, this might be the first and last time he’ll ever break eye contact with you first. You figured him out.
TRP takes me back to the Garden of Eden over and over. The foundations of TRP, hypergamy and solipsism, can be seen clearly in the first few chapters of Genesis. The rest of TRP is sprinkled heavily throughout the rest of the book. And once again, the idea of the patriarch brings me to Eden.
What the patriarch is really doing is undoing the curse and repenting of Adam’s sin by taking responsibility and the burden of the fall.
God’s warning to Adam was that if he ate from a certain tree, he would die. Christians deluded by the idea that life is good like to rationalize all sorts of explanations for why Adam didn’t die immediately. But he did. The innocent, happy, nice guy Adam, died. Becoming the patriarch, he now was given the burden of ruling over a controlling Eve. Wrestling with thorns and weeds, be these plants or people, trying to provide for her. His happiness was over, and this, his new life.
Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or wisdom. The patriarch embraces this wisdom, deals with it, and creates a little garden of Eden for his family. He continually revisits the tree to gain the knowledge of good and evil, in an effort to become greater and greater so that his physical, financial, and emotional strength can protect his family from the truth, while he dies.
Being protected from the truth, the family reenters into a state of ignorance, the original state of Adam and Eve, and gets to eat exclusively from the tree of life. Freedom, love, happiness, peace.
He must die daily, enter hell, drink its cup and emerge victorious, with the sole purpose of keeping his family from ever knowing. Only to be rewarded with a bevy of shit tests, tempertantrums from children, emotional manipulation and gossip from women, and young bucks testing his protective boundaries perpetually.
I never knew that my happiness, my fantasy, my delusion was bought at such a price. He sold his soul and broke his body to buy my freedom. My protector, my savior, my king, the only man who will ever love me.
Smile and you’ll make someone’s day, but die and you’ll give them life.