Existential Terror and Breakfast: 6

Epiphanies taste better with toast.

To say that Malcolm Steadman was currently doing nothing would be erroneous. Yes, in the normal sense of the nomenclature Malcolm was doing “nothing”, but in fact Malcolm was always doing something. At the moment he was sitting, he was staring into space and he was letting his breakfast cereal get soggy. Malcolm was breathing, and each breath he took burned a minuscule amount of calories and replenished his body with precious oxygen. If you asked Malcolm what he did with his morning he might look embarrassed, and as he would avoid your eye contact he would shuffle his feet and moan the word “nothing”, but again, this was far from the truth.

Malcolm was not proud of his life, he considered it a vague failure and had a constant nagging feeling that if he did not do anything with it he would suddenly find that it was too late to start. He was constantly comparing his life to others. What they had and he didn’t, whether it was a healthy and loving relationship with others, or more money and a better career, seemed to justify his notion that he had done nothing with his life. This did not motivate him to change it, though he might swear in the moment that he would, but it did make him sad. Malcolm was often sad. If he had taken the time to be less harsh on himself, and had considered just how miraculous his life was, maybe he would be less sad. But he won’t. He would continue his habits and things will get worse. So much worse.

The miracle that was Malcolm Steadman was impossibly more wondrous than he would ever give himself credit for. As he sat and did “nothing” 86 billion neurons in his brain worked together to create thought and consciousness. Malcolm’s mind was a series of an immense number of cells working together to create the world’s most awesome natural computer. Even as he listlessly looked down at his soggy breakfast, doing “nothing” these 86 billion neurons were working on his subconscious level to work out a math problem he had merely glanced at earlier and had “forgotten” about. As he shifted his weight to be more comfortable in his chair, and continue to feel bad about himself, this network of neurons passed on information from his senses to perceive the incredibly complex reality in front of him and it would render this perception faster than any rocket could travel. Malcolm Steadman was a miracle, and he hated himself.

Yes, Malcolm would never be able to perceive the universe around him correctly. There would never be a single thing he would think about the universe that would be correct. Yes, Malcolm would never be able to perceive the universe correctly, but he could perceive it. That, in itself was the greatest testament to Malcolm Steadman being great. The universe, as vast and confusing and random and chaotic and grand that it was could be looked upon. It could be judged and thought about and that was incredible. If Malcolm would take just a second to consider this, the trivialities of his worries could vanish. He won’t though.

He felt as soggy and limp as his breakfast.

Of course, Malcolm had a right to feel this way. He had the right to feel any way he wanted. It’s just a shame that he did. At his age, Malcolm Steadman had now lived longer than the majority of his ancestors. The bulk of them lived in fear and mostly just aspired to procreate and to be safe. Malcolm had the luxury to let his food slowly spoil in front of him in the comfort of his warm home and not have to worry when he would eat next. The fact that so many of his ancestors had survived long enough to produce young, and eventually him was staggering. Malcolm had the time to consider the universe around him, he had time to weigh complex mysteries and philosophize about them. In actuality, Malcolm was an incredibly lucky and blessed individual whose existence was impossibly miraculous! …and he felt depressed.

Malcolm was always doing something, and each and every moment he existed was immensely wondrous. Yet he perceived that he was doing nothing. He would continue to compare his life to others who were equally as wondrous, and he would feel bad about himself. He would never realize how divine he was. In this moment, Malcolm would miss an epiphany that was affirming and important: that he was, and always had been impressive. Instead, Malcolm would toss his unfinished cereal and march his way to a job that he hated. Instead, Malcolm would feel ashamed for being a waste.

Malcolm Steadman will dial the suicide hotline in 90 days.

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Rev. Fitz
Michael Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz) is a writer, illustrator, and amateur Electrical Engineer who lives in Seattle.

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