While I was growing up, my father used to say: “‘It’s all a matter of taste,’ said the man as he kissed the cow.”
That was my father’s way of saying, “To each his own.”
I always thought it was kind of goofy, and it didn’t quite make sense to me, and I never asked him where it came from or why a man would be kissing a cow, and I’ll never get the chance to ask because my father died more than fifteen years ago.
Then this evening, after a blog-related misunderstanding, I was thinking about things, and I suddenly understood.
A vegetarian, I finally got it: some people like meat, some people like cows.
I am an incredibly slow learner.
From Marstead Kvenel’s journal:
February 15, 1975 (7,746). One night last month, I opened the door and saw a blanket of snow covering the ground, the bushes, the trees, lighting up the night with glowing white.
“Wow,” I whispered.
I started down the front steps and looked up at the street lights to see if snow was still falling. It was.
As I walked down the street I began an imaginary conversation…
“It’s a beautiful night.” (No, try again.) “I like snow.” (Even worse.) “Do you like snow?” (No. Let her begin.)
“Marstead, what are you doing outside without a coat?”
And my reply: “Well, I was going to step outside for a minute because of the snow, but I just kept walking. I like walking on nights like this.”
The street lights cast dark shadows of snowflakes dancing across the white sidewalk. I looked at the ground and for some reason it reminded me of a stay in Washington, D.C. many years ago. I don’t know why.
A car started down the street. Quick, think of something to say. No need. Not her. And so my solitary reverie came to an end.
I’m tired. I went to bed late last night and was awakened this morning by my first call to substitute teach, so I didn’t get much sleep. But I learned that I made the right decision when I left college and a career path to be a teacher: taking attendance, giving permission to go to the bathroom…
I wonder if I’d be better off just ending my life? Nothing to worry about then. But that’s not so easy to do. Maybe I’ll do it when I’m fifty-eight. I wonder if I’ll be thinking and doing the same things in the future, as I’m approaching death, that I’m thinking and doing now.
I wonder if I’ll be a different person in a few years. I wonder if I’ll be as different as I am now from the little kid I used to be. I wonder if I’ll be so radically different that if I came back to this ramshackle little duplex house I’m living in and I stood before the people who know me, they wouldn’t recognize me. Of course, there would still be a distinctive thread of me running through this later me, as it runs through me now, and as it ran through me when I was a child. But will everything else be different?
When you understand one thing through and through you understand everything. – Shunryu Suzuki
The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers. At the first gate ask, “Are these words true?” At the second gate ask, “Are these words necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Are these words kind?” Only after your words have issued through these three gates, should you speak them. – Arab proverb
People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. – Albert Einstein