Saturday, December 17, 2011

the most important thing

.
What is 'the most important thing?'

Where the question is asked, the laundry list begins. Everyone's willing to play, I imagine. Love, laughter, health, wealth, shade, sunshine, intelligence, stupidity, wisdom, kindness... the list goes on and on and on and on. You make yours and I make mine. The most important thing is....

What is 'the least important thing?'

Where the question is asked, the laundry list begins. Everyone's willing to play, I imagine. A single, rusted hub cap, a flintless lighter, used match sticks, broken shoe laces, hair on the barber's floor, stale peas ... the list goes on and on and on and on. You make yours and I make mine. The least important thing is ....

Of course any serious laundry list has a way of coming around and joining its mirror image: What is most important can be least important; what is least important can be most important.

It depends on circumstances what is most or least important. A pair of pliers can be desperately important in a plumbing job or utterly irrelevant when eating spaghetti.

And who gives a shit about any of this? Few, I imagine. It's not all that serious since 'everyone does it' and if 'everyone does it,' at least I have some company and it's not so lonely where I live. But I think there is a price to pay for ignoring the matter. The price is uncertainty ... a little niggling nag: If yesterday's 'most important thing' is not today's, then what is it that is most important ... or least important either? Without some sort of reply, the most important things cannot claim to be most important ... or least either.

OK. So circumstances dictate what is most or least important. And if that is the case, then am I not a whimsical fairy tale? If 'I' am the most important thing -- and the chances are that I am -- then how does that square up with the circumstances that come and go and dictate the importance or lack of importance of anything? And how do the circumstances that come and go, rise and fall, assert and fall silent, dovetail with my notion that 'I' am the most important thing?

The quick-witted may hunker down with adroit responses: "Everything is most important" or "everything is least important" but it's just savvy eyewash. The uncertainty remains because wanting to be in control, to be most important, to appear humble and wise just plain doesn't square up with what comes and goes and comes again. It is unsatisfactory to imagine myself as nothing less than the boy-toy of whimsy and change: I am more important than that, whatever humble bullshit I may bring to bear.

This issue is all mental chewing gum from one point of view -- good stuff for philosophers or addicts of religion. But I think it is an issue to address at some point. Uncertainty is discomforting. If it weren't discomforting, who in his right mind would make up most and least important things? Is there anyone who doesn't yearn for the comfort of certainty, yearn for peace, yearn for a steady-state happiness?

My guess is that it is a good idea to hold the issue gently in the mind's palm. As one might hold a small, purring kitten in the palm, so too this world of most and least deserves an attention that goes beyond a desire to be right or wrong. Just hold it in the palm and look things over with a firm attention. Don't try to escape, don't try to improve ... just look things over. Let most and least important have their say, but decline the invitation to agree. Just look things over.

And enjoy their purr.
.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment