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Incredible Things We Take for Granted

September 9, 2010

I’ve been off doing things these past couple weeks. Finishing the unpacking, installing the internet in my apartment with only 20 minutes’ worth of assistance from a live tech support agent (I maintain that nobody could have figured it out on their own), working te kai working some more, proofreading a manuscript, cleaning up after a sick cat (she’s fine now), beginning the exciting but tedious (excedious) process of compiling an MFA application, and other wholesome activities. Last week I tried to go for drinks and relax for a couple hours but my friend and I were served what we were 95% sure was a pitcher of virgin blueberry mojitos. They tasted great, but there was no tipsiness whatsoever. We weren’t sure how to approach the subject with the server, especially once there was nothing left in the pitcher, so we just let it go.

Yesterday I took a big honkin’ gander at the Vancouver International Writers (no apostrophe) Festival program. There are so many events I want to attend. An Intimate Evening with David Mitchell is at the top of the list. It’s only $25. An intimate evening with a bottom-tier prostitute would cost you about sixteen times more than that. So, good value, I’d say. I mean David Mitchell, not the prostitute. Anyhow, I submitted a volunteer application. If they take me on, I might get into some rooms I wouldn’t have had the money or the authority to get into otherwise. I also have to write something to read, or preferably memorize and slam, at the festival on the 24th. It’s exciting. I get to read at the VIWF. How is this even really happening? Who am I to be performing at Waterfront Theatre? I have 2.5 minutes to retroactively earn my place on that stage. Success is my only muthafuckin’ option (Eminem, “Lose Yourself,” 8 Mile Soundtrack, 2002).

Totally unrelated to any of this, I’ve been compiling a list of amazing things that none of us ever realize the amazingness of. With further ado having been precluded, here are some highlights.

Language. For whatever reason we come hardwired with this awesome skill that allows us to communicate with each other in remarkably complex ways. Even the stupidest people on the planet Earth are engaging in interactions whose mechanics we can’t even begin to comprehend and entangle. Try to imagine a world without writing, without slapstick-unrelated humour, without profanities, without mythology; try to imagine a world in which you never imagine in words. You’ll find it’s impossible. Here’s to language, without which there would be no toasts.

The inner monologue. We all have one, and we don’t even think about it, but think about it: there’s this whole universe of stuff going on in your head that nobody else has access to. Are you kidding me? That’s incredible! Like, you’re going around thinking all these things about people, your life, and so on, and nobody ever knows about any of them unless you choose to utter them out loud. The inner monologue is human beings’ #1 source of isolation, privacy, and power, and we all use one almost constantly throughout our lives, barely even noticing it. It’s a big deal. Notice yours now. Offer props to its tactful reticence. Send your brain a card to thank it for the vital, life-preserving, character-creating boundaries it creates. A toast to the inner monologue.

The one-directional nature of time. Time in general, in fact. Does anyone even have much of a clue what time really is? Not as far as I know, but maybe I’m just not reading the right journals. Either way, here’s this thing that always goes in the same direction, changing everything in its path. Progressing reliably forward, at a constant speed. Why do we never wake up 3497 years ago? Why is it the case that when we say a day has gone by slowly or quickly we can never mean it literally? These are amazing things. Raise a glass.

You. Each of us is statistically impossible. Beyond impossible, if there is such a thing. In a moment that was billions of years in the making, you went from impossible to inevitable. Every living creature on the planet is a freakish statistical anomaly. None of us should be here, but here we all are, screwing each other, screwing each other over, obsessing over things that happened 20 years ago, standing in an aisle at Safeway trying to work out which can of tomato sauce is the best value. It doesn’t make any sense. Aside from an occasional classroom full of philosophy students, nobody ever thinks about this, how weird and important it is that any of us are here. We have one lifetime to retroactively earn a place on the stage. Here’s to each individual person’s incomprehensibly unlikely existence.

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