The same general idea appears in The Big Board by Kilgore Trout. The flying saucer creatures who capture Trout's hero ask him about Darwin. They also ask him about golf.
It's a trivial little passage, focused on a fictional novel in Slaughterhouse, a book of fiction. Fiction upon fiction upon fiction. There are flying saucer creatures interested in the thoughts of Charles Darwin about survival of the fittest. They are also interested in the game of golf, for some reason. Another trivial detail.
When I have been faced with huge, life-changing events, I have always found myself focused on the trivial. The day that my sister died, I attended an English Department meeting at the university, where the usual gloom-and-doom was trotted out. Low enrollment. Not enough money in the budget. Budget cuts. And, sitting there, it all seemed so pointless. Insignificant. Trivial.
I am at one of those times in my life. My friend's daughter, who I've been writing about for the last two or three days, was flown to a hospital at the University of Michigan this morning. Not for treatment. She was flown to there to have her organs harvested. I have not received the official word, but I would imagine that she has passed away by now.
Tonight, I have to teach. My students are doing their oral presentations for the next three weeks. I am sure that the students who are scheduled for tonight are anxious. They probably think this presentation is the biggest deal in the world, that everything pales in comparison right now. They are wrong. In the grand scheme of things, these oral presentations are about important in life as a bad game of golf.
I am not saying that my students shouldn't strive to do well. No. I'm saying that life is fragile and short. At the end, it isn't really going to matter whether you receive an "A" or "B" or "D" on some presentation in a class. What's going to matter is how well you have lived your life, whether you've said "I love you" enough or dropped some coins in a Salvation Army bucket or given a homeless person a warm meal or hugged your kids.
So, this evening, Saint Marty is thankful to have another day to make a difference.
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