My dental floss comes in a plastic box, of course -- God forbid anything should not be encased in plastic -- and it has a handy little metal tab to cut the floss, because actually having tools around to do obvious jobs would be beyond the capacity of my countrymen. It allows them to sell a spool of waxed thread for an improbable amount of money: I've avoided reckoning up how much I pay per foot, because after all, a person has to end the day with a little bit of pride intact.
But this particular spool resists being pulled with unusual vigor. I have to seize the thread with a specially good grip and drag it out to arm's length. It feels like one those exercises I once learned to make sure the brachial nerves are moving freely through the thoracic outlet. Or like a martial art move, founded on an ancient tradition of archery practice. The extended floss pose.
My life has disintegrated into a jumble of tiny competencies, earned with toil and stubborn practice, to carry me from one portion of my day to the next. But the mainspring of my life is gone, and I know it, and some invisible malevolence in the low cloud cover knows it too. One flosses in order to preserve one's teeth and gums, right? And one preserves one's teeth and gums so as to be able to eat at an advanced age. And why does one want to eat at an advanced age? Well, presumably for the same reason one wants to eat now: but the questions begin to verge on the impolite. All the sequences of questions tend the same way. Why? In service of what? The thing in the cloud cover shifts, and cocks its head, listening for my answer.
Not such a fool. Nobody sensible answers a question like that. "For life to mean something," I say, "Somebody must intend it. And nobody intended this life: it just happened.
"Furthermore, even if somebody intended it, why should I be governed by their intention? 'The death of Jesus set me free: Then what have I to do with thee?'"
But this is to move the whole discussion into enemy territory, under the enemy's rules of engagement: no good will come of that, not with that restless thing in the sky trying to sniff me out. And anyway it is not quite what I mean.
Once, the latest woman I had a crush on was the final answer to all these questions. Eros was tightly bound to Godhead, and the final answer was "because I crave it desperately, because I need it, because I turn to it like a sunflower to the sun." All the chains of questions ended up just there, and I had a reason to get up in the morning.
With age, though I am still as scandalously full of desire as ever, the stitching has loosened. Godhead isn't bound to the pleasures in an obvious way, any more. So that's one thing, and the other is, that the old stories of my life are coming apart. I used to prepare, relentlessly prepare, for the moment when I would go public, and deploy all the skills prepared in secret, and be revealed in all my glory. But it's obvious now: that moment will never come. I will never be revealed. I'll be rolled off the end of the treadmill and vanish, like everyone else. Whether I converse in fluent Spanish or understand Lucretius or have opinions about the Secretary of Agriculture or not. So why am I still preparing for the great reveal? ... At this point, just because old habits die hard.
The malevolence above is definitely paying attention, now. It's attentive, searching. I had better confuse the scent.
So suppose one stood in directly, as directly as possible, for the sweetness. Suppose one forgot about preparation. Suppose one said "this, this just here and just now, is the reveal. This is as much of an apocalypse as you get. And probably more of one than you deserve, frankly."
No, no, I'm not throwing any gloves down or making any promises. I'm just posing a hypothetical. What if?