Friday, August 5, 2011

It's all about perspective

Fourteen trillion dollars...
I can't even imagine the enormity of that number, let alone that my country's outstanding debt is represented by that figure.

On a sweltering August morning in Georgia, the heat and humidity were both approaching triple digits, or so it seemed. Feeling close to swooning, I entered a restroom where I work. The calming blue tiles of the floor and walls made the air-conditioned restroom seem heavenly. Not two full strides into the room and the sounds of a successful bowel movement reverberated through the walls of the stalls. The smell of success was sure to be close behind...,so I did an about-face and walked back out into the jungle-like heat. I was glad to draw in a hot, humid, unsoiled breath, but I was no closer to understanding life in general...

-Each dollar bill is 5 thousandths of an inch thick.
-200 hundred of them stack up to an inch.
-2400 make a foot tall pile.
-12,672,000 make a mile, rather quickly it turns out.
-And 14,578,478,000,000 of them make the trip to the moon four and a half times, while at the same time wonderfully exhibiting the greedy excesses of mankind.

I don't like to use public restrooms, but I always carry a set of earplugs which, if employed in time, makes them bearable. Yes, it's all still going on around me, but the ear plugs give me plausible deniability. I contemplated, okay...I actually tried nose plugs too, but the truth is that my nose has a built in filtration system for larger particles which my mouth and taste buds lack, so I abandoned them.

The rather crudely arrived at point is that sometimes I just don't need to know everything that is going on around me, especially the things that I have absolutely no control over.

While free-falling towards earth I discover that instead of a simple rip-cord, my parachute has a complex puzzle that must be solved in order to deploy it. Oh, how I long for a simple rip cord...
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (angelic chorus showing enlightenment, not a panicked scream over the lack of a rip-cord)

It hits me. There is no spoon! There is no parachute and no fourteen trillion dollars. With a handshake and some understanding, it all disappears; it doesn't really exist...With no cars, Ipods, facebook, American idol and Tom Cruise (his involvement is less obvious, but the world has been going downhill since Top Gun), we go back to growing most of what we need and trading for the rest.

Sure, some people start kidnapping others, forcing them toil over their crops, and some people simply take over their neighbor's property, but only if God wants them to and indirectly speaks to them about it through their government.

Poof! I abruptly slow and start swaying side to side as my parachute deploys. Dammit! There is a parachute. A whack on the head from a large spoon forces me to look down, where earth slowly melts as I inch toward it amid tall green columns. A rapidly developing column races by on its way to the moon, nearly penetrating my parachute. I kick at the nearby column, but my foot passes right through it. IS there a spoon or not? Whack! Dammit! There is a spoon, and I don't like it anymore, but there doesn't seem to be a real column.

How do you know what is worth worrying about?
WHACK! Whack! Whackity-whack!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (angelic enlightenment chorus and a wail of frustration, both keeping time with the rhythmic thumping of the spoon)
The spoon has my full attention as I settle back to earth.

My boss exits the restroom...
"Hey, how's it going just-an-average-runner who was formerly known as Marathonman?"
"Okay I guess. Sorry, I can't shake hands...don't want to spread understand."

The gradually expanding foam plugs fill my ear canals, blocking out the outside world.
Swoosh! A near miss of the spoon as I re-enter the heavenly blue coolness of the restroom.