Sunday, March 16, 2008

Invisible Power

Let me explain. Do I have a legitimate purpose for existing? Oh, yes. You see, my job is to correct people's vision. What I mean is, I'm here to help them see better, sharper, farther, closer--achieve near-perfect acuity. If there's a problem with human eyes that I can fix, I do it. I am the original eye candy, not because I am necessarily good-looking in of myself (most of the time I am ugly and I obscure human faces, covering their beauty--but there are exceptions), but because their eyes cannot see straight without me sitting on their noses.

So what is wrong with that? Nothing! I am doing people a service for which I am proud. After all, without me, they would walk into trees and crash their cars into light poles without fail. Without me, they could not read or write or use the computer properly. Sometimes I hang around their necks like a noose--er, necklace. I go everywhere visually-impaired humans go. I am lightweight and easy to carry. After awhile, you forget about my existence.

It's a little known secret, but I spoil human eyes so much that they don't want to see the true state of their vision anymore--their cloudy, hazy vision. Children notice that after they first put me on, their natural vision gets progressively worse and they often need stronger versions of me every year. When they finally reach adulthood, the damage is irreversible--I have trained their eyes to become utterly dependent upon me. They cannot live without me unless they decide to use an alternative, such as my cousin the contact lens, or even my enemy, lasik surgery. But I am not worried. Demand for me will last as long as there are warped human eyes. The question is, how do humans put up with distorted vision for so long?

Most humans need me, especially after they turn 40. Over 90% of the population in Taiwan uses me. I am a silent addiction. Most of my wearers don't think twice about putting me on when they wake up in the morning. Only a few have ever escaped my clutches without surgery. I am like a cane to those with crippled vision. A few may hate me, and some may like me, but the vast majority of humans are indifferent to me. They meekly accept my presence and let me be master of what they see. Now that is power, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Unfortunately, I don't have the kinds of feelings for you that you have for me. If I did, I'd be a gazillionaire by now--what am I saying? I'm already me!

People think I look like paper bills or coins or even shells, but the truth is, that's just my "skin", if you will. The real me is unseen, much like that invisible soul that all humans possess. Many trust me, by the way. Like Peter Pan and fairies, if men and women stopped believing in me, I would cease to exist. I am merely a medium of exchange, after all.

If I could be sad, I would be sad that so many think that I have power to save them from their unhappy selves. And if I could be mad, I would be mad that men squander their lives in pursuit of me--only to find out that I am but an illusion. If I desired all the kingdoms of the world and to have men serve me, I could easily do it through the lies they already tell themselves about me. To them I represent power, prestige, privilege, pleasure, praise, protection and pride. Without me, the poor are shunned by their friends.

Alas, sometimes I wonder if humans will ever know the real truth about me. Few of them, being wise, do know. But most do not, to their detriment. I cannot and never will be able to give them affection. Neither can I give them true power, for true power comes from above and within them. Nor can I give them happiness, for everything I obtain for them is external. Do they need me to live? Not really. But I think it would be difficult for those who live in modern Western societies to not need me.

Common folk are not allowed to directly create me, or they would be called criminals and forgerers; yet banks and governments create millions of me, often out of thin air. Sometimes all I am is just a splotch of ink on a balance sheet. If you were to ask me where I was located, I would tell you that I lived in the far recesses of your mind.

But no one thinks about this when the economy is good. Only when hedge funds begin to falter and mortgage loans default and inflation rises and the risk becomes too great do men cry out over me. Their desire and corresponding despair have been so great that some have committed suicide. Silly them, crying over a mere concept.

Shhh! Can I tell you a secret? Many people measure their worth by the amount of me that they were able to collect. What they don't know is that they themselves are infinitely more precious than I could ever be. Someday they will find out that they exchanged the truth for a lie. Now that is what I would call a bad bargain. But don't tell them or else they will hate you. What they were taught and what they believe about me is sacred to them. I have seen the temples dedicated to me in the realm of mankind. To them I am a god!

I am not innately evil. However, when humans love me too much it is evil to them. I am not a substitute for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.; you get the idea. I could talk about myself forever, and volumes of books have been written about how to attract me, grow me, grab me, manage me, invest me, save me, talk to me and lose me. But I suspect that most people don't know how to properly handle me, because they are blinded by their own foolishness, greed or pretense. They see me, but they do not really see me.

So next time, please try not to make a big deal about me. Don't obsess over me. Don't resent others who have a lot of me, for they probably got me by doing the same kind of obsessing that you are doing right now and it is killing them. Don't be stingy; use me to help others for good, and not for evil purposes. Remember that I do not have as much power as you think I do. I only go where the current of human decision and will takes me, or I will stagnate and be squandered or wasted away before you know it. I may be beautiful, but I am ephemeral. I make living a little easier but I can't complete your life. And please, if you really don't possess a lot of me, don't pretend that you do. It is very unbecoming. If you use me only to indulge yourself, beware! Some day you will die and then what will happen to me? Archaeologists are still digging me up from stockpiles that the ancient Romans hid in the last days of their empire!

I don't have a heart, so don't fall in love with me, because you'll get yours broken. Then you will think that the answer to that is to collect yet even more of me (or other material things), and you'll only fall further into a trap. Be grateful and content for whatever amount of me you have, for if I could loathe greedy persons, I would. Am I annoying you with my advice yet? Good. Maybe I can spare you some grief. I have caused terrible quarrels and fights to break out between husbands and wives, friends, companies and employees, and among every group of humans you can imagine. I have torn apart the closest, most intimate bonds because two people could not agree over how to handle me.

Do me a favor--enjoy me but don't fight over me; because in the end, it is you who care, not me. It is you who love and hate and laugh and cry, not me. I have a lot more to tell you, so much that you probably couldn't bear it, so I'll leave it at that for now. Once again--I don't love you, get it? I never have and never will. Only you can decide your fate; don't let me do it for you. I rest my case.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nobody thinks about me much until they need me, then they come running (or walking if you will) so they can open my lid and sit on me. A few minutes of action is all I get, until the next person comes by and does the same thing again. Blood, guts, action, gore--I've seen it all--even women having babies! Like a gynecologist, I've seen them so often that I have no need for pornography. I am mainly designed to swallow paper, poop or liquids, but sometimes I find foreign objects in my throat that choke me. Toys, turtles, diamond rings--if you're lucky you'll be able to retrieve them again; otherwise, it's best to say sayonara.

I was built to be strong and withstand years of weight upon me. Children cannot sit on me without help, or else they will fall into my large mouth. Some heavy adults sit on me with their thighs hanging over my sides. But I do not discriminate--not even against putrid human odors or sprays of fecal matter all over my porcelain body. Some of my kin tell me they prefer to be in a house rather than in a public restroom, so they can get to know their humans more intimately. (I don't see how much more intimate they can get, after all, we do know almost all of humanity's dirtiest secrets.) Others I know cannot tolerate such boredom and prefer the company of many humans. Some people keep us clean and shiny, while others make us endure unimaginable filth. But in the end, we know that we are appreciated. When our shiny lever is pushed downward and water flushes it all away, I silently breathe my thanks, wishing I had some other means of expressing my gratitude other than by gargling.

Am I smart? You bet! For having such a simple design I am very learned. I am a keeper of knowledge--knowledge such as Suzie has the stomach flu and Drew has colon cancer and doesn't know it; Dottie has a bladder infection and Mark is a vegetarian. But what does it matter? The evidence all gets washed away, anyhow.

And don't you worry--your gossipy secrets are safe with me. Yes, I've heard all types of conversations in restrooms, from stock tips to the latest celebrity gossip to confidential work-related deals. But sometimes I don't catch all of it when the sound of my own flushing drowns out the cacophony. When not in use, I enjoy quiet solitude.

I am naturally environmentally-friendly. As long as I am fed biodegradable waste, I will be all right. But I cannot keep out the cleaning chemicals used to brush my mouth, or that awful medicine called Drano that they force down my throat to unblock my pipes when they become clogged. People sometimes like to decorate me and put a furry hat on my lid. I don't mind as it keeps my flap warm. I am lowly and humble, I've been called the throne of humility. Some people like to linger and sit on me until their leg falls asleep, reading magazines or useless trivia. Others seem to get their best ideas when their gluteus maximus is glued to me. I like to think that I have contributed to their creativity.

Am I popular? I like to think so. Not that I am often the conversation piece, mind you, but I did hear that some restaurant in Taiwan served soup to their customers in mini-clones of me. But rich or poor, Black or White, old or young, they all use me. (I think human rear ends prefer me to the cold outdoors.) And my plumbing is a crowd favorite. I come in all types of shapes and sizes, but I am generally white. I have heard that my water is often cleaner than even the bottled water humans like to drink! And oh, even though it's called eau de toilette, that's a misnomer; it really doesn't come from me.

So here I am--your lowly toilet. Will I miss you? Nah. But I guarantee that you'll miss me the next time nature calls. And I'll be there, patiently waiting to take your donation.

More About Me

When I was seven, one summer afternoon my mother took me shopping for a swimsuit. We went through several stores, walking through the dusty streets of Taipei, until she finally found the perfect one--in her opinion, that is. It was a navy polka-dotted one-piece, which I thought rather plain. But my mom would not take no for an answer. She kept telling me and the store owner how it would look great on me, etc., and it was no use convincing her otherwise. After awhile, I began to feel sorry for that swimsuit. I thought it was a silly feeling, but nevertheless my mom got her way and we bought the thing. Ever since then, I have wondered if other people have had emotional feelings for things? I believe the answer is yes. Houses, cars, hot tubs, toys, even shoes!

My first attempt at writing anything substantial was for a fiction writing contest in middle school. I thought the chance to earn some prize money was good incentive for me to sit down at my dad's typewriter (yes, we used those back then) and start writing a short story. But what was I to write about? As I pondered various ideas I stumbled across one of my old Chinese text books. In the book was a story for children about how water travels through the land. This gave me the idea for a story about a raindrop's travels from the sky to the earth, where "he"--I mean it--wandered with its companions until it reached the sea. It was an imaginative piece--I was delighted to win second place in the contest, and a handful of cash, too. The other story winners were all about nuclear war, which I didn't think was a suitable subject for middle-schoolers to write about. I preferred something more imaginative. Nevertheless, from then on, I knew that I was a writer, and I have not stopped writing ever since.

This blog is a place to write down those crazy ideas that sometimes pop into my head. Ideas that most working adults don't think about.