February 22nd, 2008


The Boomer: pen portrait

"I suppose it was my grandmother who said it first, but it stuck: "nothing is that important."

"I was young, but I heard it, and worked over it. "Nothing is important," I thought. "Is nothing more important than other things?" It semed to be in a category all by itself. So I decided to take it seriously, just like a philosopher. I thought of nothing. I wasn't, as they said, empty-headed -- the thought filled my waking hours, and arithmetic and grammar simply weren't that important, so I didn't bother.

"Never mind" said my mother, "nothing is that important." dismissing the teachers' complaints about me.

"As young men will, I fell in love, and got married, but after a couple of children, my wife had no time for me, and it took effort to keep it up, and I decided nothing was that important, and walked out. I take odd jobs and live on the county. The welfare office is the steadiest money I earn, but why should a job be important?

"Nothing is important.

"So I sit around and ask for a handout every now and again. It's not bad -- after all, nothing is that important.

"People seem awfully inconsistent to me. I had my goal set. I achieved the important thing in life: nothing. And yet they seem ungrateful for the effort. I suppose I should pity them.

"Got a cigarette?"

He appeared to be unsurprised by the speed at which I moved away once I realized that to him, nothing was more important than my comfort.... and not in a good way.