The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mindless Errand Running

The sound of my car’s ignition induces a sigh of relief from both my restless body and wandering mind, aching badly for a solitary car ride. Although I only have a few blocks to drive, it is a welcomed journey; exercises in mental focus had made my thoughts stir crazy. Too many hours of class, too many hours spent contemplating my future, a life that seems parallel but in no way connected to the moment that actually existed in front of me.

I am in need of something simple… food? Drink? Household goods? Perhaps all three, I cannot remember. At any rate, tonight the Big Lots on Sepulveda and Jefferson serves as the destination I use as an excuse to run wild with the horses under the hood of my metal chariot.

Once in motion, my thoughts race and bounce like the rhythm of the cars around me, the rubber of tires slapping dutifully against pavement. I imagine the most grandiose of ideas, far-reaching of concepts as I cruise down the sloping, pleasant stretch towards the front gates. I form a theory by the time I turn right on Jefferson from Lincoln that Earth is just a biochemistry experiment for an especially advanced alien population.

The Petri dish that is our existence lies flat on a metal table under bright, fluorescent lights, three green forms in long, white jackets. Our world is a test. We are data.

God is just a chemical reaction.

“They seem to be killing themselves off at an incredibly fast pace,” one alien in a white coat would remark to another, scribbling notes from the monitors tracking our universe’s progress.

“Yes, we should have stuck with the smart lizards.”

“Well, I wasn’t the one who put the dish in the freezer!”

I imagine them poking at the black blob that holds our existence with the end of their pen, easily touching the edge of an expanse we seek so wholeheartedly to reach ourselves.

Sitting at a stoplight, I wonder. What if it were all recorded? What if these life forms have been collecting all the data in the history of our existence? Would these thoughts, words, conclusions mean something then? Would the idea of a higher power seem to make more sense if that power needed us too in some way? Just as we learn from lower forms of life, are we too teachers through our creation, our movement, our mistakes, our successes?

Would they ever look at me? What’s in my report? It would be titled something like Everything Humans Know, and would sit next to other volumes of studies that would shrink the index of the world’s worth.

Could this be true? Could that be reality?

Why not? I tell myself, switching lanes to dodge a minivan crawling the speed limit. My guess is as good as anyone else’s. If anything, just the fact that I can imagine this idea demonstrates the absurdity of peoples’ belief in a singular truth, the anthropocentric reality with which we rock ourselves to sleep.

Meaning, I remind myself as I come to a stop sign before the Big Lots, is constructed. Reality, I figure, accelerating once again, is simply shared meaning. There is no absolute truth to any of this, as any reality presented can be rejected if a mind is powerful enough and chooses to do so. Why do we push these notions of reality, of truth? Parking my car, I cringe at the sound of brakes hitting rotors, one reality that cannot be ignored much longer.

I push a cart through fluorescently lit aisles and wander between shelves crammed with materials that are colorful and nice and have little use other than to serve as some sort of decoration or distraction from things naturally derived.

After a few momentum-gathering steps, I step onto the underneath part of the cart and let it carry me to the checkout line, still hung up on the idea of fragmented realities. Part of me believes that some, most people are afraid of what individuals might do, knowing that they are the creators of their own truths. All of me believes that those in power, those who dictate what “the masses” take for granted, fear this notion of free thought because it would blow their cover, disturb an order that keeps people reaching for a single, commodifiable point of truth.

James Baldwin put it well in his essay, “A Talk to Teachers,”

“The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.“

Groceries in hand, I walk back to my car. I cannot help but appreciate the symphony of organic noises around me. Dark, wet sky holds moisture against telephone wires, making them hum and snap against the moist air. Insects add a chorus of chirps, and cars growl down the wide, lazy road. This reality feels whole. I feel better. Jefferson greets me once again with streetlights as I relax my thoughts, let them off their leash. Enough of contemplating the meaning of life for now, a calmer part of me suggests, turning up my stereo. After all, I argue, aliens may be listening, and they deserve good music.

Your weekend warrior,



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