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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fables of the Reconstruction

The Happening
Upon leaving the supermarket, I was hit by a meteorite the size of the Epcot Center. For all I know, it may have been the actual Epcot Center… I didn’t get a real good look at it. OK, so it just nicked me. But it did also tussle my hair significantly.

After gathering myself and readjusting my collar, I soldiered on and carried out the rest of my errands for the day. Later I read in the paper that the parking lot had been completely demolished and they converted it into a theme park for squirrels. I felt bad for the squirrels that they were being stereotyped as thrill seekers after millions of years of being known simply as reticent and unassuming yet industrious acorn hunters. That their reputation could be in jeopardy wasn’t lost on me. You could even count me sympathetic to their cause.

As it turned out, the supermarket lost a great deal of revenue in the process, since shoppers were blocked from entering the building and that kind of ruined the ability for people to exist inside the store and bring their money with them. So eventually the store recapitulated and just went to stocking acorns, and then those erstwhile profits came back like gangbusters. Forecasters were nothing short of stymied.

But I wasn’t going to trouble myself over that to any great extent, as worthy a cause as it was. A person can do only so much, for one must pick his battles. And on this day it became most evident mine would not be an Epcot shower. My destiny had other things written on it, as a long ago discarded wrapper with barely legible inscriptions that faintly hinted of import.

Such thoughts of messy inscriptions have always given me hope. Hope, that curious thing that prods one forward indefinitely or blocks American goals, because as long as hope is alive, everything else remains so and the score stays low. And if breath equates to hope, then as long as there’s the requisite energy to cogitate, hope continues steadily on — along with every possibility.

This is what got me past many English Lit. classes, in retrospect. I didn’t think them so much irrelevant, but merely considered it a subject way before its time. Fits a lot better into 30-something age crisis for a myriad of reasons unknown. At the very least, 20-somethings have way too much else going on to be able to schedule such things in before the turn of the decade. How does Thursday the 21st of whenever at 3 o’clock sound to you? Great, we’ll put you down for an appointment, with destiny. He’ll be glad to see you then. No lines, no waiting… And have that insurance card ready to pay the piper.

And while occasionally I still do check the acorn ads to see what kind of deals are going on, it’s mostly for nostalgia. That, and stock analysts say they could turn into oaks one day. Such speculative enterprises. Can’t be led off track though. Stay the course. Or stay on the course, if you’re so inclined. I think they mean the same thing. One has the normative ‘on’ added, which may not be pertinent to the discussion. Remain in conjunction with the course, and you'll do just fine.

The Application
The future, it has a soundtrack with hazy organ music. In black and white tones. You’ll hear single notes held through three or so breaths. It’s a solemn, reflective period. Your past life doesn’t play out in front of you, but echoes of it manifested throughout. Were it not in black and white, you’d miss a lot of it for the color. The choreographers think of everything.

A contrivance is not immediately obvious. Occasionally they happen to stumble onto a fortuitous set of circumstances and claim them for their own. That’s a cue to jump ship and then learn real fast how to swim.

And so I instead trouble myself over whatever’s left after filtering out the acorns. It’s a good start. As respectable as squirrels are, they’ve become so steeped in their own pursuits that they’ve perfected the nervous twitch three levels past a healthy dose. Their hypertension level is probably something like 7000 over 50. If you were ever able to sneak up behind one of them, you could surely give it a heart attack just by saying “Yo, squirrelly...” And then you’d know how far squirrels can really jump. In short, it's safe to say they care not to smell roses. That could take as much as, oh, two seconds… and who has time for that?

As the human equivalent of squirrels, speed readers defeat the whole purpose of reading, and as such they need to be more responsible in this area. Steven Wright said he had a microwave fireplace, and he could sit in front of the it for the night in eight minutes. Pay attention to Mr. Wright, because he’s not wrong. The satirists have so much material because we provide it to them. We’re the fodder for their jokes. We’re the ones on stage and they’re actually in the audience watching us. They’re funny to us only because they know us so well, and it’s less maintenance to snicker than to bawl.

Wright also recounted a speed-reading accident he had due to hitting a bookmark. This underscores the irrationality of doing something enjoyable real fast so you can move onto something else. Our rapid-generating acumen can overstep the nonchalant soul. Reflective moments can’t be satisfactorily rushed, and the tortoise isn’t quite as lame as he looks. Any semblance of a race going on is due to cleverly marketed window dressing. The competition of life is with yourself, and if left to your own devices you’ll be able to go at your own pace without any extraneous angst.

Ever watch an entire movie in fast forward — in squirrel motion? You can effectively go through several intense emotions in a lot shorter period of time, and still make it home in time to see the weather report. Somewhere in the industrial age, efficiency swallowed something that was quite a bit more meaningful. Here’s hoping it can’t hold it down.

Living in the present as I do, I automatically come packaged with high-speed internet. I know this, because every time I call Verizon, their message asks me what is it this time — cable or high-speed internet? If they merely said internet, I would be all confused, because this isn’t just your father’s internet, rather it’s the type of internet that’s going at incredibly swift warp speeds that might even break the sound barrier on a good day. Modems are nothing if not on the fast track.

The Lesson
But what if the connection speeds get so rapid that it catapults us off into the future somewhere, and we start experiencing time too fast? We chew on one acorn for a couple seconds, then chew on another one, and on and on. Pretty soon we're Charlie Chaplin movies. Maybe what we really need is for our overall connections to go at a slower speed. Bring back the days when modems were powered by treadmill. Slower, faster… the future comes just as quickly either way.

An apt aphorism in technology circles holds that all computers wait at the same speed. Likewise, you can try to go as fast as you want in an obstructed lane, but no matter how close you try to get to the car in front of you, you’re not getting there before he is. Following at thirty feet behind them gets you there just as soon as following at five feet behind them. If you stay right on their tail you’re not going to suddenly get sucked into another dimension where there are any extra passing lanes and no speed limit signs. Have a drag race light signal parade much? Vroom bad. Coasting good.

Ever look at your watch and wish it would get to the top of the hour quicker so you could move on to something else? What’s that all about anyway? That’s wishing for your aging to speed up. It’ll get there soon enough, so just enjoy the view. Are you trying to conserve breaths? You wish for time to go quicker enough times and you’re gonna wake up in your advanced years wondering how you got there so soon. Time is very good at taking care of itself, thank you very much. Wishing for the hour to go by at a more rapid rate does nothing to time. Time needs no encouragement. It doesn’t even need an audience. By trying to influence time, you’re setting yourself up for an inevitable loss (time never loses), and you get all worked up over something you can’t control. Myself, I like to wish for time to keep going by 1 second at a time. I win, time wins, and we all go home happy. (Time has a home too, in case you were wondering… I think a time share)

Would that squirrels were more like turtles, sans the shells but with a bushier tail, and we’ll let them keep the cute little noses too. Realize if you’re not stopping long enough for somebody to take your picture, you’re movin’ too fast. And keep in mind you gotta make the morning last. Historians will recollect the original tale was about indigenous hares, however bloggers have taken poetic license like this with Aesop throughout the course of literary history, so I doubt if he’ll mind another.

To upgrade the story, squirrels are more apropos after all, since they travel at higher velocities. That, and rabbits don’t gather acorns. Rabbits have lots else to do anyway, like distributing colored eggs, being pulled out of hats, having lucky feet, being a spokesman for Trix, promoting carrots, representing vintage Volkswagens, appearing prominently in Alice in Wonderland, Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (perfect opportunity to use 'Tail' gone wasted, and I believe Beatrix is for kids), and Song of the South. There is no Peter Squirrel, Br'er Squirrel, Bugs Squirrel, etc. Oh, you may have your Secret Squirrel, but they tried to keep him a secret, and they gave him a blind mole as a sidekick, plus for his arch nemesis he had to settle for Yellow Pinkie. Excuse me? If that isn't slap in the proverbial face, then nothing is. As a consequence of aforementioned factors, squirrels justifiably feel left out, so we can at least give them this one Aesop rewrite.  

I believe the ultimate moral of the story is there are no shortcuts, and if you speed you’re just going to get a ticket anyway (from Murphy’s second law of thermodynamics), so ease your foot up off the throttle, take the scenic route, get worse gas mileage, be late, and move the heck out of the fast lane, because that nut job in the Ferrari might just be in a big hurry.

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