… I saw a dreadlocked guy of about twenty-five or thirty riding down a major Los Angeles thoroughfare, holding one hand up in the air, his middle finger extended in a defiant if not cliched gesture we’re used to seeing in arguments and scuffles in our society. As I got closer the finger did not subside and I naturally assumed he was flipping off someone who unjustifiably honked at him. Or perhaps a motorist had buzzed him – getting too close as they were passing with their car. Then I noticed there was another bicyclist about a block behind him and it occurred to me that perhaps the finger was aimed at this fellow biker. The longer this went on the harder it was not to laugh. I kept expecting it to end.
Was this a funny gesture between friends? Or maybe this other biker was giving chase for some reason?
As I finally passed finger-guy and soon lost him to the horizon the finger remained held firmly in the air and suddenly it became apparent to me that my new friend was not, in fact, flipping anyone off in particular. In hindsight this was obvious due to the fact that not only did he never relinquish the finger, but he also wore a very calm, ‘yeah, ridin’ my bike down the street on a sunny day’ look on his face, like he was always in this position.
Now, almost a week later it seems frightenly obvious: The guy was flipping everything off; the entire world had let him down and he was saying, ‘Hey, get fucked.’
It was actually pretty damn funny.
I have thought about this quite often in the days since it happened, and more and more, I get it. I mean, it’s gotten so I cannot even stand to listen to NPR for all that long due to the fact that everything continues to sink. I know, I know, existence is cyclical, and just like everything else humanity interacts with or takes on its back as defining standards, mores, practices and rituals the economy is cyclical. Good goes to bad, bad to good, with all manner of shades of gray inbetween as gradient to the constant transitions. This in and of itself is of course good, seeing as how if things were to be the opposite, and just go from ‘Hey, we’re grrreeeaatt!’ to ‘Oh my god we have nothing’ it would be a lot harder to cope. But the older I get I see more and more how everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING humanity concerns itself with is built out of nothing but the fact that, ‘Hey, we say so!’ This is of course a good enough reason to fool humanity, but evidently not the cosmos. As the world population grows exponentially second by second* the Universe, via Universal Operating Codes such as the simple laws of percentages or Physics even shift the balance so that our abstractions that once worked to hold our world as people (or at least our world as people living in the industrialized world) up get ground away and the world as we know it becomes harder and harder to support our weight under the sheer audacity that goes along with billions and billions of people all wanting the same thing – their own place in the world. There’s only so much of it to go around, and the more you divide a pie into pieces the smaller those pieces get until finally, the pieces disappear.
The world we were taught we would inherit when we became adults does not really exist, it was just make believe that started really ramping up just after WWII and then very quickly began disappearing under the weight of its own demands.
Finger-guy, if you’re out there, thank you. Tomorrow I just might drive down the street with my middle finger held firmly high, telling this illegitimate world to go fuck itself.
* Go here and while hitting refresh as fast as possible watch us multiply. Scary isn’t it?
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