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Cosmo Kramer on Lent
The great prophet Cosmo Kramer offers us a word about the difference between craving and yearning.
What is going on here? Kramer’s yearning, his destiny, what will ultimately fulfill him is being clouded by the shadow life he is living at his friend’s cleaner, more organized, well-stocked apartment. Losing those keys or the privileges to them wakes him up and moves him to some sort of awareness. He indicts George who seems to avoid such reality by fulfilling his life with cheap thrills and brief satisfactions of his cravings. George is the opposite of Kramer. Floating through his life just trying to avoid pain because tackling the root issues of his dilemma is just too risky.
George can’t resist his appetite in order to learn how he needs to fulfill his true desire, his true longing, his true yearning.
At some point, much to my chagrin, the theology of Seinfeld will break down, so let me just stop while I’m ahead.
Resisting our appetites, our comforts, our coping mechanisms (even if they aren’t sinful), is good for us because it helps us know what we really need. It breaks us out of our homeostasis. It helps us confront our weaknesses.
This is hard to do in an era of instant gratification. Don’t we feel entitled at some point to our desires being fulfilled? The world is constantly bombarding us with immediacy. We get frustrated when our computers won’t load, when our calls are dropped, when our Snaps won’t open, when we’re stuck in traffic, when we’re behind on a deadline. We rush around, we drive ourselves nuts. We’re so busy and so often unfulfilled.
How can this be possible? What happened? The market economy specializes in selling desire, manufacturing need, to the point of us being unable to live without the luxuries it provides. My phone was stolen or I lost it the other week (many narratives to what could have happened). Nevertheless, I felt paralyzed without a phone. In danger, even. What if something happened to me? How would my wife know? I have kids! Six hours later, I upgraded. Eight hours later, I was humming along with a perfectly functional phone synced with all my data and all the Pokémon I’ve caught. Wow! Desire. Appetite. Craving. I wasn’t even away from my phone for long enough to even realize what I truly needed. That’s why I need Lent.
The whole country needs this Lenten fast. Amazon should cancel Prime for Lent, for Christ’s sake.
Our resistance of our appetites is personal and it’s global. It resists the empired thinking that consumption should eternally satisfy us. But it also offers us a chance to discern and discover what we need to let go of and in turn hold on to.
When we resist our appetites, we develop a starvation. When we begin to confront the very things that are marketed to us to satisfy that starvation, we can really sort through all the crap that will never be good enough.
When we develop a hunger, we can also sort through all the things that we haven’t given up that aren’t satisfying us. So if you sacrifice sweet things, for example, you lose some pleasure in your life. What you are tempted by in order to fulfill that pleasure should stimulate your consciousness about what you really need from God and what the world cheaply sells you.
Get out of Jerry’s apartment and figure out what you really yearn for.
We are starving people. Sometimes starved from affection, relationships, intimacy, intellectual stimulation, physical activity, adult conversation. We try to fulfill our desires, and to be honest, we can get so full we don’t know the difference. I’m not going to act like everyone who doesn’t resist their appetites is living like Costanza. But there is something more. And for forty days this year, why not try it? See if you don’t have the desire for the ultimate fulfiller of our appetites and our desires.