Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: September, 2014

Can’t Save the Game

I was starting up the nightly Minecraft game. I flicked through the options and asked which texture pack we should use. Asha asked for the Plastic pack.

“Can’t use that one,” I told her.
“Why not?”
“It’s just a trial pack. We won’t be able to save what we build.”
“I don’t care.”
“But anything you make will be gone when we exit. Forever.”
“That’s okay,” she said. She was willing to spend her unredeemable time building something awesome, and then walk away and let it cease to exist. It reminded me of a couplet from the Bhagavad Gita:

You have the right to work,
but never to the fruit of work.
2.47

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

At the end of the day, though, that’s just how it is. And not just in the obvious sense—that often we work really hard for something we don’t get. That’s how it is in a bigger sense.

I want my life to matter. We all do, I bet. We work hard to matter. We draw attention to ourselves and train long hours and take crappy jobs to make our mark. But no mark we can make will last. A billion years from now, nothing that I have done will remain anywhere at all. I build my castles, but when it’s time to quit, I cannot save the game. Seems depressing, eh?I-have-arrived-I-am-home

But not to Asha. She isn’t concerned about the fruit—saving the game. No, the game is in the building. She hasn’t learned that she’s supposed to suffer and strive and sacrifice today for a tomorrow that never seems to come.

I hope she never does.

Idea Wisps

smoky wispsThey come to me all the time. I bet they come to you, too. Washing dishes, on the bike, cooking. A few magical wisps of a scene appear. A few exceptionally clever lines. An original plot that just begs to be allowed to grow.

I hold it in my head as hard as I dare while finishing the dishes—I’ll crush it if I crumple it too hard. And it seems intact when it’s done. Until I try to type it out.

I can’t seem to lead into it. It’s just a wisp or a few lines or a general plot. It has no context. No place to attach itself. Like a single atom, which cannot exist unless bonded with something else.

So I shake my head and smile as the wisp floats away. I don’t begrudge its uselessness. It was fun to think about. Fun to chew over. And I’ve also noticed that when the wisps are breezed away on the wind, they leave a scent that never seems to go away.

A Clear Pool of Water

The pool of water was supposed to be calm and clear. I was sure of that. How else was I supposed to see through to the bottom? But the surface bobbed with ripples from the pebbles that children had been throwing in. Misty sediment polluted my vision. It was a mess. And it was up to me to calm that pool down.

I watched the ripples carefully. Timed everything as best I could. Then I started throwing carefully-chosen pebbles into the pond to counter-act the ripples.

I know, I know, it sounds stupid to get rid of ripples by creating more ripples. But that’s where I’m educated and you aren’t. I’ve taken physics, you see. And I know how to use waves to annihilate waves.

Theoretically.

I’m pretty sure I disassembled the waves caused by those stupid kids. But maybe I over-compensated a bit with my own pebbles, because there was still distortion. But I still figured the best thing was to fight fire with fire. I examined and thought and manipulated and threw more pebbles.

I’m still throwing pebbles, and I think I’m making progress. But I can’t stand the asshat in the next pool.

His pool was wavy and clouded, too. More so than mine, if you ask me. But instead of doing the hard work, instead of fixing it the honest way, he just sat there.

And watched.
As the ripples fell away.
And his pond turned clear and serene.