In some Christian practices, January 6th is celebrated as "The Epiphany," symbolized by the Three Wise Men delivering gifts to the Christ child 12 days after his birth. It's an opportunity, regardless of your faith, for a greater realization of our Universe and its current need for enlightened insights, increased awareness, kinder consideration and acknowlegement of the "inconvenient" truths for our world.
Interestingly, sharing this week's special event of The Epiphany is the anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley (January 8th). Presley is remembered for his crooning, gospel and rock-and roll music; his eroticized hip-shaking; his songs about hound dogs, jail houses and weirdly colored shoes; his slew of hormone-infused B-flicks; and numerous Las Vegas wedding chapels staffed by impersonating preachers. Unfortunately, he is also remembered for his over-indulgences and profusion of perspiration - especially at the drug-addled, bloated end of his well-known career.
It's the King's shamefully audacious, extraterrestrial, spangle-infused, semi-precious cubic-zirconium encrusted, universe-of-razzle-dazzled, garish polyester jumpsuits (often pushed to maximum density as the pounds kept adding on) that have come to symbolize the extremes of the 70s. Swollen and stuffed, winded and drugged-out, hauling his sorry carcass across the stage, Elvis Aron Presley showed us just how toxic the excesses of the modern world could be. Anyone who saw him in the last years of his life would remember adoring fans begging for more and more and more from him, in spite of how overheated, stoned, stressed out and perspiring he was while barely getting through his performances.
When thinking about all of this, I had a personal "Elvis-Epiphany," when I realized that so much of what is within reach today has become as glittery and tempting as one of Presley's costumes, and that all of the world's accessible bling-bling blinds us to our ailing planet in the same way that adoring fans sadly disregarded the failing, sickly man packed into the be-dazzled uni-tards.
For me, on a cosmic level, the King's kitschy, tacky jumpsuits stand as a metaphor for the glitz and bling of today's hyper-consumerism, and Elvis, the ever-indulgent, universally recognized, hedonistic, self-polluted man, is an allegory for our ever-ailing planet. Elvis brought tremendous joy and talent to our world, in equal measure to his self-abuse and ultimate self-destruction.
So on this occasion of The Epiphany, symbolizing acts of caring, giving, and reverence, and awareness, combined with the occasion of the anniversary of The King's Birthday, embodying excess, abuse, self-destruction, and wasted natural resources, we have a rare opportunity to embrace a new consciousness - our own "epiphany," so to speak - of the fragility of the planet we call home - the joy it brings to the fortunate few, the horrible misfortune, illness and starvation it brings to the majority, and how our actions, as individuals and as a society, can directly lead to, or help avoid its destruction.