Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We live on a rock, just one of many.

"We live on a rock. There ain't no rhyme. There ain't no reason. We live on a rock, just one of many, hurtling around in some big cosmic jambalaya.

Now you wanna get questiony, that's your prerogative. My ma took me to a big loud church every Sunday. She squeezed her eyes shut, she pressed her rosary beads to her lips, and she prayed for good things for those she loved. But cancer took two of her sisters. Her husband couldn't make a move without a belly full of gin. Her youngest son turned to a life of crime. And her oldest--me--is a nasty sonofabitch who can’t get out of third gear without a snarl.

So who was she talking to every Sunday? And why wasn’t he answering? I will tell you why. Because we live on a rock, just one of many. There ain't no answers. There's just this. And all you can really hope to do is find a couple of people who will make the seventy or eighty odd years we get to live on this sweet swinging sphere remotely tolerable."

~ Michael Imperioli ~ Life on Mars

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fleeting Moments of Escape

I stood gazing skyward as the sun pattered down between the leaves of the giant magnolia. The scent of blooming flowers danced across my nose as if choreographed with the swaying tree.

It was a fairly windy day, but not particularly cold. This was early summer in northern Mississippi, and the golden age of my youth. The limbs felt earthy and gave little as I tested their strength. I paid special attention not to disturb the small ants that scuttled busily along their way. This was their home after all.

The limbs of the great magnolia formed a canopy that extended maybe thirty feet across. The larger lower limbs hung very close to the ground, and once you passed the outer foliage you found yourself enveloped in another world. It was the perfect place to play as a child, but today I had greater ambitions.

The wind started to kick up as I started my ascent, but I wasn't deterred. Maybe it was childhood ignorance or the brash courage only found in my youth, but I was compelled to move upward. I ascended slowly, meticulously selecting each new limb to ensure my footing. I clung closely to the trunk of the tree, and I could feel it bending as it swayed in the wind. This was the first time I recall feeling as though plants were living things.

As I reached the top of the tree, I emerged from the outer layer of foliage. I lodged myself perfectly in a fork between two limbs, and there I stayed swaying in the afternoon breeze. This was one of my first tastes of freedom, and still a very vivid memory today. It was as if by climbing into that tree, I had climbed out of the turmoil of my life.

As the sun melted into the horizon I began my descent, back into the drudgery of human existence. I've never forgotten what it felt like, sitting atop that magnolia searching the skyline while swaying in the warm summer breeze, and I hope I never do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Four Doors

In a strange twist of fate, or maybe luck, I was exposed to a social experiment by which I could accurately measure the average level of intelligence of the various staffing in the facility at which I work.

You see there is a walkway between the main building and the cafeteria, and at the end of this path there are 4 doors.

3 of the 4 doors were locked and on one of the locked doors hung a sign reading “Please use other door”.

The first thing I noticed was that everyone who approached this set of doors, went directly to the door with the sign first. I wrote this off as standard curious human behavior, or maybe repetition and absent mindedness.

I then observed a number of people who checked the door anyway, either completely ignoring the sign hanging in clear view or dismissing the plain truth it displayed. At this point I started my idiot total.

Maybe idiot is a bit much …

Tug … tug … tug…

Maybe not…

To give some context to the following you should know that the only other set of doors are at the complete opposite side of the cafeteria. This causes anyone who wishes to enter them to endure a very lengthy walk to reach the other side, which is the exit, and then walk all the way back. Therefore it is obviously advantageous for one to enter through the original doors mentioned.

The next thing I observed was people were very willing to check the second and third doors which were both locked, but reluctant to check the fourth which was unlocked. It was if their brain shut off after two unsuccessful attempts and admitted to defeat. Their spirit had been crushed, disallowing them to check the fourth door and instead take the long walk of shame along the glass exterior of the cafeteria.

A certain margin of error had to be taken into account for my calculations as well. For instance occasionally one or more people would completely forgo checking the door themselves and instead delegate the task to another person. Perhaps they felt the other person was more fitting for the task of door checking, or maybe they were just being polite. Either way delegating such an important task to a member of the general populous bought them a one way ticket to the idiot list.

On other occasions a few lucky people happened to observe another person of higher intelligence discover the open door, thus gaining entrance as a result of someone else’s deduction and reasoning. I found these “piggybackers” to be unacceptable test subjects and eliminated them from the results.

In total only one out of every six subjects observed had the clarity of thought required to gain entrance to the cafeteria through the proper door. 1 in 6. In light of humanities eminent demise, could you hold the door while I grab my paddle?