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By February 4, 2020Humility, Philosophy, Space

[ARCHIVE UPDATE — 1-23-18] This story could go on forever, but here’s the abbreviated version.

A young woman walks into a trendy downtown bistro and grabs a stool at the bar. She possesses an almost unnatural beauty, at once alluring and intimidating. She’s appears approachable with friendly smile; though her confident demeanor, most notably the intensity behind her dark blue eyes, caution she’s not to be trifled with.

Seated next to her is a youngish professional, bespoke suit, well-coifed. The type of guy who thinks he’s special. But, really, he’s the standard-issue barfly simply repackaged with skinnier pants and a fatter wallet. Full of liquor, himself and hot air.

He looks over his left shoulder and is pleasantly surprised with his good fortune. Game time.

“Can I buy you drink?” he asks.

“Ah, I suppose … thank you,” she says with a polite but non-committal tone and smile.

“I haven’t seen you before. Are you from around here?”

“Not really. I’m from three-point-one-four, ellipses.”

“Huh, I’m not familiar with Ellipses.” He takes her bait, hook and line. “What part of town is that?”

“Oh, it’s not around here,” she explains matter-of-factly. “It’s actually very far away,” she adds, now sensing the conversation is heading to the all-to-familiar end.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. I’m Josh,” he offers, and hoping to impress, adds, “Sales, pharmaceuticals, inked a big deal, celebrating my commission. So yeah …”

“Congratulations … and I’m Infinity.” She shakes his extended hand.

“Wow, that’s original,” he says. Clocking her penetrating stare, he realizes she’s serious and adds, “and beautiful.”

Here it comes. She’s as sure as the sky is blue.

“What do you do … for work, for a living, for fun?”

“As I said, I’m Infinity.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be forward. If it’s none of my business just …”

“It’s okay. People don’t get it. But I am Infinity, you know, like in ‘forever and always.’ Cosmology …!?

Josh chugs the last sip of his beer, runs his hand through his perfect hair and gets up to leave, but not before carping, “Sorry, Infinity or whoever you are, but you’re giving me an explosive headache. Although, thanks for reminding me my hair needs a trim.”

This is why, Infinity justifies, she avoids small-talk like the plague.

Left alone, again, she murmurs, “Do the math,” while doodling a horizontal figure eight on a cocktail napkin. Upon squiggling a line across the symbol, she turns on her stool toward the oblivious patrons and asks, “What’s the circumference of any circle divided by its diameter?” Crickets. “The expanding and accelerating universe?” Anyone?” Not a peep.

“Why the big mystery,” she wonders. “Why bother,” she answers. No one gets her.

Forever, those with whom she comes in contact quickly determine she’s either too complicated or too incomprehensible to try to figure out. “I’m getting a headache.” “My stomach is upset.” “You’re making me anxious.” She’s heard all the excuses and exit strategies.

Of course, this dismissive behavior disappoints Infinity. “Am I being irrational,” she asks the bartender. “Or are people lazy, or just plain ignorant?” she continues, rhetorically. “How about asking real questions, having real conversations? A little curiosity, a dose of modesty, can be very illuminating and virtuous.”

“Are you telling or asking me,” the bartender laughs. “Everybody loves to talk. Not listen. Maybe, actually learn something, forget about it. People have short attention spans, limits. Sure, they can go on and on about themselves, but heaven forbid you do.”

Ugh … the next time someone asks, Infinity concedes she’ll circumvent the unease altogether and make up a simpler story. Something everyone gets. From now on, she declares, “I’m Humility.”

Classic illustration, “Bond of Union,” by M.C. Escher


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