I’m sitting in a coffee shop, and I’m dressed as a wrecking ball.
I didn’t plan to be but that’s how things play out sometimes.
You wouldn’t be able to tell – no one would. All you would see is a pair of jeans and a business casual shirt on shirt ensemble with the top button undone. I suppose I could try to say that not all wrecking balls look like wrecking balls but that would belie the truth.
The truth is that I look exactly like what I am, but no one ever sees it because no one wants to see it.
It’s the peculiar line of logic that leads people to say things like, “But if you could do that then why don’t you…”
And I say that that’s not how it works.
And they say, “Okay, so how’s it work then?”
And I say that it’s like when you see a bit of light that looks like a rainbow.
See, the light isn’t trying to make a rainbow. The drop of water, the piece of glass. The time of day and the position of the earth. The sun and the stars don’t care. No one is building a rainbow. It’s several variables that don’t care about the other variables because they don’t know they’re variables at all and so they don’t know there are other variables to know about. And then there’s you – sitting there and watching and not adding anything but voyeurism.
And I say that maybe that’s worth more than you think it is and not just in that old “if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s there, does it make a sound?” kind of way.
And I say, “There are things that behave differently when they’re being observed that have no reason to act any different because they shouldn’t have any way of knowing that they’re being observed.”
And I say that that’s maybe a great or terrible indicator of the idea of god and what it is to be made in something’s image. All of us – even down to the atomic level – unable to be ourselves if anyone is watching. All of us turning into actors and singers or else those who avert their eyes and try to say without saying, “If I don’t see you for long enough can you stop seeing me?”
And I say, “It’s more like that.”
And sometimes someone will nod, I suppose, or else they just assume the logical assumption: I’m just someone saying things because things are fun to say. What would conversation be without it?
I suppose the problem is that, by the time I explain what “that” is there seems to be very little “that” left for the listener to turn into a “this”.
It’s for that reason why I don’t often waste the time explaining.
In truth, there’s very little to explain when everything works as expected and there’s no way to explain anything when it doesn’t.
And one time someone asked if it mattered what the words were, and I told them that it only mattered because it had to matter because it’s like a sort of bootstrap paradox where the end result is partially the cause of the end result.
I suppose that, in the end, it never really matters much – and that’s exactly what I tell people when I choose to tell them these things.
I didn’t need to tell anyone this today. Not here. Not while sitting in a coffee shop.
I’ve just been sitting here quietly. Building momentum. That’s what I call it.
No one asks about that. I don’t find this surprising for exactly two reasons.
The first is that is seems largely straightforward and undeserving of an explanation.
The second is that I’ve never told anyone that because no one ever asks me anything that would require me to tell them.
“Give me an example.”
That’s the big one.
Everyone wants an example, don’t they?
Funny voices, is it? Let’s hear your best accent.
Comedian? Tell us a joke.
Superman? Leap a tall building.
If Jesus is real and Jesus returns and he can’t walk on water, that guy’s gonna have a bad day. That’s all I’m saying.
I don’t need to sidestep the answer but then there’s no way not to.
I say that there’s a man that says he can always guess a winning lottery number, but it won’t win if those numbers are submitted.
Right there, everyone is a theorist. Everyone knows what they would do if they were Batman.
Everyone has a gameplan when they don’t have to play the game.
Critics on a couch talking about how borderline Olympians aren’t doing it right.
They say the man should write down the numbers and…
There’s always a loophole, right?
But the man says there isn’t. The numbers are guaranteed – but only if no one plays them.
He says he has proof.
In his wallet is an old lottery ticket and he unfolds it and shows you the faded bubbles that are filled out and there’s a section of a newspaper with a date and the winning numbers and they match his.
But you say that proves nothing.
Who’s to say when he filled those bubbles out?
How do you fact check the past when it has no timestamp?
How do you confirm the reality of a memory?
And people say, “That’s not an answer.”
And I say that it is, but it’s not the one they wanted because they wanted to see magic and I’m telling them that sometimes magic is just saying that it’s known that somewhere, someone is pulling some kind of rabbit out of some kind of hat, and I can only tell you that I know it’s true in a way that’s infallible even if you don’t understand why.
And people say, “So you’re just full of shit.”
See, people don’t say that because they immediately believe I’m full of shit.
This is the alpha-male, “What are you, some kinda pussy or somethin?” call to arms to let someone know that they’ve gauged the size of their testicles to be several sizes smaller than nature intended. But don’t worry, there’s a cure. The cure is to pull your balls out and slap them under a projector so everyone sees how big they are.
It’s an attack meant to provoke a response of, “Oh yeah!? I’ll show you by giving you EXACTLY what you want!”
I suppose they think that that’s how it works.
I tell them, “That’s not how it works.”
And they nod and say, “Mmmhmm…” all judgey while silently thinking, “but what if it’s true?” and they go home and they wonder it too. And they try it themselves and they go, “Did it work? Would I know?”
And if they’d ask me that, I’d tell them that they would – if they could – but they can’t. And if they asked me why I’d just stare at them like someone who’s incredibly short asking me why they can’t learn how to be tall.
But no one is asking me that today.
Not here while I sit in the coffee shop.
My momentum is as good as it can be.
I take the receipt and fill in the spot for a tip. It’s exactly 20.04%. I could tell you why that matters but it would never really tell you why it matters. It would only tell you what I think you want to hear. Or maybe it’s what I think I want to hear. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference.
I write in the total that could have easily been a very clean number had the tip not been 20.04% and I sign my name.
I sign it slowly and deliberately. It’s the signature of someone who writes all the letters. It’s the signature of someone who never stopped writing cursive the way they were taught in school and so every curve and divot and dash and dot is in its place to such a degree that the whole thing looks distinctly out of place in a world where names start with capital something and wind into a scattering of ink-line origami.
At the very bottom, I write, “Thank you” – I do not write “thanks” – I could tell you why this matters but you already wouldn’t believe it should matter at all and I suppose that’s the reason why I keep having to explain so many things.
I place the receipt upside down and set a saltshaker on top of it.
Some will probably say, and quite sarcastically, “Let me guess, the saltshaker is also…”
But no. Why would a saltshaker matter?
This is the problem with reality. Once it doesn’t match up to what people want, they dive into absurdity. If you can bend a simple law of physics, why can’t you eat the color blue and turn your pores into seagulls?
And I say that if that’s what that means to them then I suppose that’s what that means to them.
And people don’t like answers that don’t say what they want them to say. They like answers that they already decided they want to hear.
But that doesn’t matter at the moment. Not here while the momentum is released, and I see the light – totally unaware – as it moves through a drop of water – lost in its own little world – turn into a tiny dot of multicolored light that only shows up for a moment because I’m at just the right angle to see it flicker by.
I know that as the momentum strikes the world has shifted and I don’t entirely know what that means but I know exactly what it doesn’t mean, and I suppose that that’s probably the best thing for any of us.
After so much effort, there’s little else to do but take a walk.
After all, I feel so underdressed now, down to little more than jeans a t-shirt and a button up with the top button undone and some sneakers that should have been replaced last year but they don’t matter so much.
They only matter during the points between.
I suppose someone might ask, “Then why not just focus on those instead?”
And I tell them that that’s not what wrecking balls do.
People don’t like that answer.
It’s the only one I have to give them.