Sam’s my boss at work. Today we got talking at lunch.
“Vegetables are easier to digest than meat,” June says.
“How come cows got seventeen stomachs then?” I ask. She gives me a blank look. “Cos grass is nearly indigestible. Cellulose,” I explain.
“Rabbits do okay, says Sam. “Mind you, they’ve got seventeen kilometres of intestines.” Sam tells us about the coffee plantation he saw in Australia. Beautiful red berries with two nuts. That might be the kind of crop he’d like to grow one day. I say “I got taken to hospital once for drinking too much coffee, about seventeen cups a day. Makes y’heart do funny things. But I like the smell of it.”
“It’s a drug,” says June.
“Y’need sugar. Tastes too bitter without sugar,” I add.
“You have sugar in your coffee?” Sam looks at me.
“One, not two?”
“One,” I answer.
“A heaped one?”
“Yeah, a heaped one.”
“That’s two,” he says. “Sugar is a drug. White death.”
Sam doesn’t eat sugar, except on porridge, and he doesn’t eat porridge anymore.
Sam doesn’t like religion either. He told me exactly that the other day as some people were walking out of the church on Hospital Hill. They were all dressed up. I don’t know why he doesn’t like religion, but I asked him what he thought of when he heard the word “spiritual?”
“An orange coloured can, about a gallon or so, filled with aeroplane fuel,” he said. “That’s what I think of.”
I guessed then, that spiritual and religious were not the same. I also asked him what he thought a thought was.
“Say I’m thinking: the sea is brown,” I said. “If I don’t tell you, if I don’t let on, then there’s no single person in the world can rip my head open and find that thought.” After a moment’s silence I said: “For the very good reason that it’s not there. It begs the question: what is a thought?” Sam still said nothing.
“Don’t know, don’t care?” I ventured.
“That’d be pretty close to it,” was the end of the subject.
Actually, it begs the question: where is a thought?
It is possible Sam may not be aware that even atoms are spiritual. Atoms are spiritual because they are a construct of human thought. Human thought is spiritual because it can’t be perceived. Nobody has ever seen an atom close up, or smelt one, or even heard one. It’s a theory. It may be a good theory, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still a theory.
Does one believe that matter can exist without atoms? No? Then all of matter is spiritual too.
I know that Sam wouldn’t understand I’m a Christian. I don’t even understand it myself. People have a picture of what a Christian is, like an orange-coloured gallon can full of aeroplane fuel, which in itself is a nice picture. But a picture is, of any different thing, suspect. Suspect because you are looking at the thing from one way only, or because, given the barest of details, your brain makes up a whole novel, or because.. life is too beautiful.
I’d rather say that I belong to the Both religion. For example, that I believe in reincarnation, but that you only live once. That the glass is different but the wine is the same. That I don’t believe in belief.
Life is ironic. It’s impossible to be sincere about these things because no one actually cares.
A better name for this religion would be a new, made up word that meant ‘both’ but for two or more, like ‘all three’ or ‘all seventeen million.’ For example, if the new word were, say, froth, then, instead of saying “all those guys are weird,” you could say “froth those guys are weird.” I will undoubtedly invent this word by and by.