Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thoughts of one happy barbecue on a cool rainy mid-September afternoon

A cool mid-September afternoon here in a little college town in the upper Midwest. A light rain falls. The trees around here are starting to bleed out the bright greens of summer, and starting to put on the red-yellow hues of fall. It is hard not to think that the rain is speeding up this color-bleeding process. Or maybe it's the other way around: Could the change in colors be bringing about the rain? I have no way of knowing.

I also can't help thinking that I have seen this same exact weather somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, and even in the tropics. Yes, the tropics; except that this kind of light-rainy weather would be a few degrees warmer down in the tropics. But there seems to be something universal about rainy weather everywhere. Wherever the rains come, they bleed out the colors in everything, making everything seem cleaner and more vivid. Along with the colors, the rains also bleed out the smells in everything, so that every little smell of the grass and trees and flowers attains a certain sharpness, imprinting itself subtly yet powerfully into the sensations. So I suppose we can say that rain is nature's great leveler: It makes everything everywhere that otherwise seems so different seem so much the same...


On this cool rainy mid-September afternoon, I find myself reading books that I probably shouldn't have time to read, if I am taking my, ahem, career and the accompanying rat-race more seriously. But then again, if I were taking my career and the accompanying rat-race more seriously and devoting all my waking hours to it, I probably wouldn't be writing this post in the first place. Heck, this blog probably wouldn't even exist! So think about this: At the risk of sounding very self-important here, I think it is no exaggeration to say that you owe the pleasure(?) of reading this blog to a lack of professional ambition on the part of its author. Ah, the irony of life!

But let us move to a happier subject. So as I was saying, on this cool rainy mid-September afternoon, I find myself reading books that I probably shouldn't have time to read. Specifically, I find myself reading Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors. Here's a very interesting and insightful exchange between two characters in A Wild Sheep Chase. The protagonist's girlfriend and this caretaker who is taking care of a bunch of sheep on a sheep farm are engaged in a seemingly ordinary discussion about sheep behavior:

'"Do sheep quarrel?" asked my girlfriend.
"You bet they quarrel," said the caretaker. "It's the same with any animal that goes around in groups. Each and every sheep has a pecking order in the sheep society. If there's fifty sheep in a pen, then there's number one sheep right down to number fifty sheep. And each one knows exactly where it belongs."
"Amazing," she said. 
"It makes managing them that much easier for me too. You pull on number one sheep, and the rest just follow along, no questions asked."
"But if they all know their place, why should they fight?"
"Say one sheep gets hurt and loses its strength, its position becomes unstable. So the sheep under it get feisty and try for better position. When that happens, they're at it for three days."
"Poor things."
"Well, it all evens out. The sheep that gets the boot, when it was young, gave some other sheep the boot, after all. And when it all comes down to the butcher block, there's no number one or number fifty. Just one happy barbecue."'

Hmm. Just one happy barbecue, huh? Now let's do a little experiment here. Every time you see the word "sheep" in the above passage, replace it with the word "humans". Now read the passage again. What do you get? That's right, you get a perfect description of human behavior in almost every human society that has ever existed, is existing, and (maybe) will ever exist into the foreseeable future. So in the end, when all is said and done, we're just one happy barbecue! Isn't this a happy thought? Who is going to be eating the barbecue, I wonder?...

Well, all this is getting a little too sermony for a cool rainy mid-September afternoon, so I guess I should stop here. Besides, who really has the time to be thinking these sheepy thoughts when there's a rat race to run? Got to get back into it, you know, before I fall further back than I already have. But well, maybe think about this a little the next time you're mad at somebody and feel like putting him or her in his or her place: Whatever your place is in the pecking order right now, when it all comes down to the butcher block, there's only one happy barbecue.

One Happy Barbecue Under God
[Image taken from here]

P.S. I think I will probably attract more foodies to this blog with this image. Yay, foodies! More power to foodies!           

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