Sunday, August 29, 2010

Could That Be How It Works?

An Unconventional Favor Leads to a Strange Take on Reality

OK, this one starts out a bit cynical (if you're in a generous mood, maybe sardonic or wry).

It was late, I hadn't had dinner. I was hungry, and a bit tired. I raided the 'fridge, hoping something would be in there that would satisfy. I saw the salsa, and thought of the cold, fresh, wet, and spicy feeling mixed with the crunchy-salty of corn chips. Did we have corn chips? A quick scan of the cupboard...YES! I was in!

Until I unfurled the bag of corn chips. Those of you who have teenage boys at home know this experience well. Rather than finish the bag of chips, or the carton of milk, or the bottle of fruit juice or the box of cereal, it is delicately put back in place with one mote of food above the minimum necessary to fall into the "throw this away" category.

I looked into the bag, shiny, sparkly metallic reflections all around, surrounding a pitiful pile of crumbs and scraps.

And I said to the contents of the bag, "Huh. I'm doing YOU a favor."

What an odd thought. As the full consequence of my statement flowered in my mind, I realized what I was really saying. "The sooner you get eaten, the sooner you turn into...ahem...compost,... the sooner you can become something approaching good and useful."

Because if I left them in the bag, they'd sit there for who-knows-how-many months, and then probably get thrown away INSIDE the bag, and sit there encased in the bag in a landfill for another who-knows-how-long, before getting a shot at becoming compost and then doing something USEFUL with those molecules....

Boy, it was a harsh sentiment.

But then I thought (as I am wont to do), "Geez. I wonder if that IS the best thing I can do. And what would the world look like if one of the most important things you could do for something else was to help it rid itself of its current form, turn it back into compost, and get it started again on a new mission?

And what does that say about the municipal waste system? Would conservative "small government advocates" just see it as another stupid government boondoggle trying to help...whatever...make the most of itself? Like funding for education, but at the other end of the spectrum?

From there it got weirder. What if the difference in perspective between Conservatives and Progressives is really as opposite, as literally antipodal, as this new thought was to my normal way of thinking? Up is down for somebody who walks on the underside of the stairs in those MC Escher drawings... No WONDER we can't communicate with one another, with world-views as inverted as that.

Don't get me wrong - there was no political aspersions being cast. I was just in stunned wonder at how OPPOSITE, and yet quite possibly LEGITIMATE, that flash of perspective could be. And suddenly, the whole world became unusually malleable, and the surety of my opinions and perceptions weakened and began to jiggle like jello. Which direction does intention flow?

And more. What did this flash imply about the way the world (nee, the Universe) really works? Which perspective could be counted on to reveal the Divine Intention, the Mind of God? Which actor on this stage should I play, and what is his motivation? Whose colors should I cheer for, and who should I champion with my own life force?

Where's the effing SCRIPT??!

("LINE...!", he shouted, even though it was a public performance in front of a packed house...)

What an odd way of seeing the world, if only for a moment.

And yet, helping someone shed the remnants of himself, even if it means going through a "compost" stage, to then feed something else that arises from his remains is a very very interesting role to consider, both for the compost-er and the compost-ee.

Who does that? What archetype? Is that Death? Mother Earth? God? One's Highest Self? And is it still really you if you've become compost and then recirculated via the roots of a plant or the gut of an animal? Or, if not physically experienced, then emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, or socially?

Does the resplendent and magical Phoenix know that the ashes from which it arises were once scraps of corn-chips in the bottom of a bag, lovingly and considerately turned to compost by the gut of a fool?

These questions seem too much for me.


  1. John, sometimes a chip is just a chip.

  2. Very interesting. I have been awed as well by the ability to perceive things in totally opposite ways.