Monday, September 12, 2005


There was this guy who told me to always ask questions. "Never accept anything at face value," he said. "Always ask why something is before even looking at what it is." His eyes were always searching, and I wondered how such a man could ever be content. "Nothing is what you think it is," he insisted. And he was right, of course. Nothing is exactly what you think it is: nothing. This guy was a security guard - but maybe he should have been an insecurity guard.

There was this guy who told me that there is no such thing as identity. "There is only image," he said. "Identity is a man-made word," he would go on, "self, nothing more than a linguistic construct, existing long before you ever came to be." His eyes were cold, seemingly dead, and I wondered how such a man could ever be content. "All you are is what you project," he said. And he was right, of course. As I looked at his tired face, I wasn't seeing a lot. Little more than the strained light from some long dead star, light-years away.

There was this woman who told me that knowledge is worthless. "What does it mean," she asked, "if it doesn't make you happy?" Her eyes were pleading, imploring, and I wondered how such a woman could ever be content. "The more I learn, the more miserable I am," she said, "and each year spent in school feels less like one step closer to truth, and more like one step closer to death." There was nothing I could say, no way to argue. "I'm living life in an echo chamber," she continued, "and the walls are closing in, the echoes thrown about with ever increasing ferocity, becoming shorter, sharper." And she was right of course. I could hear the echo in her hollow voice, ringing and tinny. Ancient worries riding into the future on the backs of countless uncertain voices.

"It's the search for a middle line, some grand median." These words from an old man in the produce aisle. "Average?" I ask. "No," he says, "It's not to be confused with averageness or mediocrity - more equidistance. Though it's not so much finding the middle between two extremes, but finding the middle between all extremes. From the middle of it all, you have the best view of it all, do you not?" I nod, looking around, becoming keenly aware of my place amidst the rows and rows of vegetables. "It can be as easy as disvovering your place in society, and finding importance there," he says, "it's finding contentment in an otherwise discontent world." He presses into an avocado, testing for ripeness. Lifts it to his nose, breathing deeply, inhaling the scent. "But," I say, "we're taught from a young age that one should never be content, that one should always be looking to better oneself." The old man raises an eyebrow at this, feigning confusedness. "What else is there but contentment? What if to be your best means to find contentment? What then?"

Later that evening, I whipped up the best guacamole I ever have. Ockham's Razor was never so sharp - those avocados didn't stand a chance.

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