‘Round Here

Imagine someone, potentially anyone, even you, perhaps, but let us, in any case, say.

Yes, you.

You pull into the diner – Earl’s, Norm’s, Dinah’s, something like that. A sort-of Googie architecture … but maybe not quite, as if it’d been a little late for the Space Age, and late is the one thing you couldn’t be in the Space Age. Underneath, as if compelled to use the space but not sure what to write, is added the marginally helpful message – ‘Food – Maps – Rest’ – while below that the enticement, ‘Come see our miniature petrified forest’. A little bell of the sort you’d find on a Christmas tree or a cat, tinkles spritely upon entry.

The conversation hum breaks off but starts up again almost immediately. You’re no one special and they see a lot of travelers, usually passing through on the way to the nearby mountain camps and cabins. Nothing to see here.

You lean over the vinyl swivel chair at the counter, not wanting to sit, not intending to stay. The waitress – there are no servers here – cracks her gum. She’s too old to be chewing it like that and too young to be brandishing a hot coffee pot like that but she’ll probably be here all her life if she does not get out soon.

[This all seems so central casting, a’course, but work with me, people … ]

You want to get where you’re going to, and at her second stare of several seconds you consent to choosing the least-stale-looking donut from under a glass case – if it weren’t in this diner it cd be in a museum, as could the pastries … baked good, or at least good-enough in hand, she responds to your inquiries and hesitates with your change until you tell her to keep it.

You recall a desire to be kind and strengthen your smile, biting politely from the donut, straightening to leave.

She chuckles, sets the pot on the counter [you control your concern for the Formica], crooks a hand against a hip [she’s seen enough movies, too] and says, directly but without rancor, ‘You’re not from around here, are you.’

She doesn’t realize the obviousness of it.

It’s not a question, but neither is it a challenge. Merely an observation.

Life for us is like this.

Or at least should be.

‘Who you are is not, simply not, of this world,’ says Meister Eckhart.

He wasn’t the first to say it, neither, but it seems we often hear, ‘You are not of this world’ as some kind of command or at least aspiration. So often it is taken, a word from the Scriptures, as one more damn thing we must do.

But what follows that phrase?

‘As I am not of this world.’

And surely that is not a command. Nor an achievement, even, nor anything that was, in the usual sense ‘done’ … it was done because it was simply so from the start, not an action required or height to be attained, some level to be passed as if gaming, a box to be checked … another damn thing to do.

‘Not of this world’ isn’t for the commendatore, or especially commendable, for that matter. It’s neither aspiration nor, as CSL might say, ‘idealistic gas.’

Just an observation.

… you are not, simply not …

… not from around here …

Just how it is.

Just so.

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