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Notes From the Small Pond: What’s the difference?

Notes From the Small Pond

By Parnell Thill


What’s the difference? For some unknown reason, we’re born into a competitive environment and winning is better than losing, especially if there’s money on it or your kid’s competing or, God forbid, you are.

I get it, the Darwininian Thing: Survival of the fittest and all that. That, believe me, is not lost on me. Either you win or you die. I get it. Sign me up. I like my chances against you accountants and bankers and insurance people and retailers. I like my chances when the Apocalypse dawns … if it ever does before I die pretty soon. Mad Max. Hunger Games. Zombie stuff. I like my chances. If none of us had houses or cars or insurance or bank accounts or churches or parking lots or expense accounts or parents or 911 calls or culverts to hide in or fields in which to sprint… I like my chances. And I like the chances of mine.

But who cares? What’s the difference? I live longer, or you do. By 10 or five or 50 years. Who cares? You’re known by yours as “a better dancer”? You’re known by yours as “a lot of money”?  You’re known by yours as “sophisticated”? Because you understand Tolstoy? You drive a Volvo? A Mercedes? You subscribe to the New Yorker?... and they pile up, week after week, no one could possibly keep up, until you throw them away — in the garbage, not recycling, so no one sees, God forbid.

Eventually, everyone realizes the difference is not. There is none. Unless you die first. Unless you take the same dose of heroin you used to take before being off it for a month and then getting access, finally, thank God, so you can live again, for Christ’s sake a final, last-celebratory hit to end it all and then it does end it all and the silence is not yours but everyone else’s you thought you were talking to but didn’t in time and then your ghost left and hovered, shaking your head and wondering if there was ever, God-dammit, a way for you to communicate to those living how silly the Addiction Game was, even though it was so heavy and immoveable back there on Earth.

The difference between losing and winning is one of those examples of subjective reality versus objective reality.

The former is man-made, ie, the earth is flat. There is no inert gas. “If I can’t see it, explain it, it does not exist.”

The latter is the difference. We can’t know what we don’t know. If one human being were to absorb all the knowledge to which a human being had access to over the course of the past 5,000 years, that human would either be God or the devil and, in either case, murdered.

We want to learn slow. We want to live fast.

Bad combo.