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Life As Performance Art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

I am beginning to miss snow shoveling. It’s not like I like it. After the first time each winter, it seems like a overrated activity.

I like the past tense of having shoveled. When we finish, the driveway or walks are at least temporarily clean, which is satisfying. Shoveling isn’t exactly an extreme sport or competitive activity, but we take our thrills where we can find them.

What I miss in this year’s lack of snow removing is that I don’t have time to contemplate life’s greater mysteries. For example, if a map (either paper or electronic) tells us it is 10 miles through hilly terrain, does that include additional distance going up and down? Or is it in a straight line “as the crow flies”? Would the crow really take the shortest route?

A year or so after I had graduated from Dick-and-Jane stories, our family was driving somewhere and I saw a “Watch for Falling Rocks” sign. I wanted to know who is Falling Rocks, is s/he a boy or girl, is he/she still missing and for how long.

I’d still like to know not only that, but why Mr. and Mrs. Rocks named their little tax exemption “Falling.” Is it an old family name or does it have some hidden meaning?

For years I’ve seen signs asking me to “Watch for Falling Rocks.” Why not post a reward? Maybe then we will see him or her.

We’ve been told many times that if lead gets into our bodies, it can send our IQ’s plummeting. The government studied this for 20 or more years before telling us this news. What took them so long to figure it out and say something? Oh, never mind — I just realized I answered my own question.

One of these days when the snow and ice are over for another season, we will take our cars to be washed and vacuumed out. We save our quarters for just that purpose and the appropriate location, then drop them into the slot. More often than not, the last coin will drop out. What is the proper etiquette for putting the same errant coin in the same slot, and how many times should we do it before giving up and trying again next year? How many years can we use the same explanation to our Significant Other before it becomes a lame excuse?

There are some 82,000 known chemicals in the western world, the vast majority of which have never been tested on human beings. How can I really be sure the overpriced market vegetables labeled “organic” don’t have a single one of them? If a few molecules have slipped in, is it still organic?

If we tumble for one of those television promotions where the hyperactive voice-over announcer tells us to call right now because operators are standing by, are they really standing? Just how reputable is a company that can’t afford or won’t spring for chairs for their staff?

When we are in an elevator and the doors eat up valuable seconds we’ll never get back, why doesn’t the “Close Door” button move things along? Is it a government conspiracy, or someone’s idea of a joke to let us think we really have control over our lives? And who profits from this? Shouldn’t there be a law? I don’t know what sort of law, but we have them for everything else, so why not one for non-functioning door-open buttons?

A lot of these deep philosophical questions need answers. I’ll wait for you to supply them.