Right now I’m writing this in a motorhome, stuck on Clover Point Victoria, with a plugged fuel line, a starter relay that doesn’t work, and reverse that has given up on me. It’s a long, tortuous road to arriving here.
It began with our planning on attending a wedding way up in Clearwater BC, and so intrepid souls that we are, decided to take Thunderbutt, the 41-year-old, 24-foot motorhome that I have delusions of driving across the country later this year. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on this old relic, and despite all evidence to the contrary, believe that it can be made into a reliable (albeit expensive to operate) traveling home.
The engine has been replaced (twice, long story), new carb and fuel pump, new plug wires and full tune up. New battery. Interior has been remodelled, keeping the best of 70’s styling horror with a few much needed improvements here and there. Overall it’s very funky and interesting.
Just before we left, I replaced the engine oil and the ancient, fetid swamp water that was all that remained of the gear oil in the rear end. I tightened the steering and even greased the chassis. She ran like a top, and I was convinced she was up for it.
Until recently, I had thought of stories as largely entertainment, especially in the commodified West, where stories are generally distractions and time wasters. A pleasant way to kill a few hours. I recently saw the movie The Edge of Tomorrow, and this was a perfect example of the type. But of course there’s more to it: stories play a key role in reifying social roles, values, common beliefs and traditions; In earlier days this might be through fairy tales and biblical stories, while in the above Tom Cruise example all kinds of (mostly conservative) beliefs, values and politics play out in the explosions and death.
But when it comes to more serious stuff, I had always chosen non-fiction as the preferred route to knowing the world; in many ways it’s quite surprising that I didn’t pursue a scientific academic career, as my mind seems to prefer the certainty of fact over imagined fiction.
But that’s just ignorant silliness on my part. It only recently came to understand that everything we know about ourselves and the world around us is simply a narrative that we create in order to know the inexplicable. Even more absurd is that while we like to think of our thoughts, ideas and knowledge as our own, they are in fact not much more than the repository of countless minds that have come before us, living through our moment in history.
I recently had an opportunity to again consider the meaning of helping others, of giving to others. An experience with a family member showed me one way of approaching it, one I used to share. Within a paradigm of lack, giving is seen as a kind of currency, a tit for tat that needs to equal out. Like money, there’s not much to go around, and so it must be conserved and doled out sparingly.
I recently asked this person for a significant favour and they proved reluctant, offering it only with the proviso of payment, which I see as an attempt to balance the equation: I give to you, but you have to immediately return the favour. Never mind any previous transactions that might have disproportionately benefited me in the past.