Shit Happens! (an existential view on the stale side of life)

I dare say that this could be Americans’ most eloquent take on Existentialism 🙂 **

Life is full of absurd and often inexplicable events.  So when the proverbial ‘shit hits the fan’, what do you do? Lord Buddha supposedly said that “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”, right? So why should we hold on to filth and wallow in self-pity? Simply shrug and flush it down the toilet…simply let go… is the best way to cope. 

If you think that’s easier said than done, then you are right.  There is nothing “simple” about “flushing down the filth” — literally, figuratively, physically or metaphysically.

Though many of us came to enjoy such luxury as flush toilet as merely another mundane item in daily life, there are still a lot of people in the world, even in developed countries like the U.S., for example, in Alaska, who still use “outhouses” and do not have running water.  I was very surprised to learn about Alaskans’ passion about their outhouses that some earned their place in a museum and “outhouse race” is a very popular annual event in February.


Anyway, I just watched on History Channel today and learned with excitement (I may be the last person to know this ;)) that flush toilet (called Ajax) was first invented in 1596 by Sir John Ha(r)rington, an English courtier, author and master of art, and aka the “saucy Godson” of Queen Elizabeth I.

According to Wikipedia, “the work for which he is known today, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596) is a political allegory and a coded attack on the monarchy”, which described a forerunner to the modern flush toilet that was installed at his house at Kelston.  And thus, a toilet is called a “John” in his honor.  I always wondered from where that word originated.  Now I know.  And yes! I do wonder about these things!

Apparently, Sir Harington’s flush toilet was seen as a joke and it took several hundred years for it to catch on and once it did also played a part in what culminated into the Great Stink of London in the summer of 1858 during which the stench of untreated human waste from over 200,000 cesspits that was mostly dumped into the Thames permeated central London. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

Yet, there were tons of people in London during that time who made a living from human’s “liquid gold” (more eeeeewwwwwws) like “toshers” who scavenged through the sewers looking for anything of value; “mudlarks” who scavenged in the mud of the Thames and other rivers; “nightsoil men” or “gong farmers” who removed human, animal and household waste from London to farms outside the city for use as manure; “flushermen” who were employed by the Court of Sewers to flush away waste or anything that might block the flow of water in the new sewer system; and “rat-catchers” who were hired by the city to catch rats and “rat kings” (eeewwwwwww) in the underground system to prevent them from spreading disease. What a wonderful place London must have been! Cringe! Cringe! Cringe!

How can I not be grateful now? I’d rather seek salvation in clean bathroom and flush toilet than the alternative 🙂

** Afterthought: And Buddhism, and ‘Whateverisms’ of the world … Apparently many people have given this topic much thought as I came across this list of variations on Urban Dictionary… quite comical indeed 😀

“Taoism Shit happens.
Confucianism Confucius say, “Shit happens.”
Buddhism If shit happens, it isn’t really shit.
Zen Buddhism What is the sound of shit happening?
Hinduism This shit happened before.
Mormonism This shit is going to happen again.
Islam If shit happens, it is the Will of Allah.
Stoicism This shit is its own reward.
Protestantism Let this shit happen to someone else.
Calvinism Shit happens because you don’t work hard enough.
Pentecostalism In Jesus’ name, heal this shit!
Catholicism Shit happens because you deserve it.
Judaism Why does this shit always happen to us?
Zoroastrianism Shit happens half the time.
Marxism This shit is going to hit the fan.
Atheism No shit.
Seventh Day Adventist No shit on Saturdays.
Existentialism Absurd shit.
Agnosticism What is this shit?
Nihilism Who gives a shit?
Deconstruction Shit happens in hegemonic meta-narratives.
Christian Science Shit is in your mind.
Moonies Only happy shit really happens.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Knock, Knock, shit happens.
Scientology Shit happens on page 152 of Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard
Hare Krishna Shit happens, Rama Rama.
Hedonism There’s nothing like a good shit happening.
Rastafarianism Let’s smoke this shit.”


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