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Saturday
Mar072015

The Possibilities are . . .

“You know, last night I was walking around Daimyō when what must have been three Dutch swimmers walked by me. These guys were huge! Well over two meters. Like superheroes. I didn’t even think people came in that size.”

Azami asks if they were good-looking.

“How could I tell? These giants’ shoulders alone were in the stratosphere!”

“I want to meet them!”

“Oh, I’m sure you do. Seeing them, kind of helped me understand how I must make some of the men here feel.”

“But you’re not that tall.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“I mean, you’re tall, but you don’t look big.”

“Thanks again. Must be my lack of personality.”

“I mean, you’re just right. You’re perfect.”

“There’s no need to patronize me.”

“C’mon, don’t take it so seriously.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t.”

And to be honest, I don't. After all, I have never harbored any complexes about my body. Sure, I wouldn’t mind being taller, stronger and so on, but as tall as those swimmers? Nah. Being tall like that must come with its disadvantages. And think of the limits it must place on your choices of something so basic as clothing. And how would you fit a body like that into an economy class seat?

“Still,” I confess to Azami, “as those three massive ships sailed past me and I bobbed violently in their wake, I couldn’t help think that there was yet one more thing that I would never be able to do, that options had just been taken away from me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Seeing them, it dawned on me that I would never be a champion swimmer. That no matter how hard I practiced, my efforts would never compensate for what nature failed to provide.”

“I didn’t know you swam.”

“Oh, I don’t.”

“W-what?”

“What I’m trying to say is that the option became a non-option without my even knowing it, without my even having the chance to consider it. It’s as if you’re in a restaurant, looking at the first page of the menu, when the waiter comes by your table, takes the menu from you and rips a page out of it. ‘Sorry sir, but you can’t have any of these.’ And it’s not just swimming, it’s pretty much everything in life. Every day, month or year that passes, you have fewer options, there are fewer things you can do or accomplish or even try. No sooner did you take your first steps than you’re old and decrepit and the only option left you are: eat or shit, continue to live or just give in and die.”

“You’re crazy,” she says, laughing.

“Yes, it’s one of the options I choose to exercise.”

“I’ve always thought of it differently.”

“How so?”

“I’ve always believed that my options were limited or non-existent from the very start, that only by practicing or training hard, learning new skills, getting experience and so on could I finally have some choices.”

“Well, yes that’s true, but I just see it as more options. You have the choice to study or not studying and how you decide will have a big impact on what the subsequent options are. Choose to study and then you find yourself with a ravenous appetite looking at a seemingly endless menu. Choose not to go to school and you’re standing in front of a counter, well, probably behind the counter, choosing between a large order of french fries or a small one. I don’t know. I guess, I’ve always been foolishly optimistic and considered the possibilities to be infinite. You know, like Fujitsu.”

“Huh?”

“Fujitsu. You know, the company. Their slogan is ‘Fujitsu: the possibilities are infinite.’”

“Oh really?”

“Funny thing is, a student of mine recently applied for a research job at Fujitsu but didn’t get it. You’d think that with such an encouraging slogan, he’d be able to land the job. Guess the possibilities aren’t infinite after all.”

 

I found this infographic. Happy to say, that my height is slightly above average for an American and my waist is 20 cm slimmer. (Been a busy year.)

Speaking of averages, Kurt Vonnegut wrote about them in his Breakfast of Champions:

"Trout wrote a novel one time which he called How You Doin’? and it was about national averages for this and that. An advertising agency on another planet had a successful campaign for the local equivalent of Earthling peanut butter. The eye-catching part of each ad was the statement of some sort of average—the average number of children, the average size of the male sex organ on that particular planet— which was two inches long, with an inside diameter of three inches and an outside diameter of four and a quarter inches—and so on. The ads invited the readers to discover whether they were superior or inferior to the majority, in this respect or that one—whatever the respect was for that particular ad.

"The ad went on to say that superior and inferior people alike ate such and such brand of peanut butter. Except that it wasn’t really peanut butter on that planet. It was Shazzbutter.

"And so on. 

"And the peanut butter-eaters on earth were preparing to conquer the shazzbutter-eaters on the planet in the book by Kilgore Trout. By this time, the Earthlings hadn’t just demolished West Virginia and Southeast Asia. They had demolished everything. So they were ready to go pioneering again.

"They studied the shazzbutter-eaters by means of electronic snooping, and determined that they were too numerous and proud and resourceful ever to allow themselves to be pioneered.

"So the Earthlings infiltrated the ad agency which had the shazzbutter account, and they buggered the statistics in the ads. They made the average for everything so high that everybody on the planet felt inferior to the majority in every respect.

"And then the Earthling armored space ships came in and discovered the planet. Only token resistance was offered here and there, because the natives felt so below average. And then the pioneering began."

 

While I’m on the topic of heights, who you do you think the tallest Asians are?

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