This Great Society - Arts



Illustration: Joel Bentley


Chris Nash: Folly All Over the Place
Illustration: Joel Bentley



In my elementary school days, I once tried to jump from the top of one stone pillar to another, several feet away. Being an adventurous and athletic child, this feat was laughable and obviously I was successful in reaching the second pillar. My feet, however, had grown quite attached to that first pillar and they decided to stay there. You see, the pillar from which I leapt had a rim around the top and my shoes got caught and stayed in place.

Now, let’s be serious for a moment. Everybody knows that feeling of “time slowing down” when transcendent trauma or heroism is about to take place. But, of course, time is not slowing down and our brains are not speeding up, so what is actually happening? Well, obviously God – who stands outside of time – chooses these moments to pluck our spirits out for a sneak peak at our physical selves. Once we’re on the periphery of time, like Him, we are free to watch ourselves in slow motion and think Oh… not good.

Back to reality: I landed forehead-first on the rim of the second pillar and hung suspended in the air like a laundry line with all of its sopping clothes bunched in the middle. Being in too much pain to move or even cry for help, I was forced to stare at the ground beneath me, thinking, “Ouch.”

Fast-forward to my high school days. I was spending a week in a cabin with an amateur film crew while we shot what was going to be the greatest film in existence. We were finished shooting for the night and we had all crawled into our beds.

“Dibs on top bunk!” I called gleefully, as I prepared for slumber. I closed my eyes and began to mentally prepare for the next day’s scenes when I felt a jabbing in my rump. I opened my eyes. This will go away, I figured. And it did, for about eight hours. But once the dawn broke and my co-stars were awake, the director once again prodded me between the cheeks from his bunk below. The mattress wasn’t thin, so you can imagine the force necessary for such a pinpointed poke.

Playing possum, I knew there was no way he would be prepared for…stealth attack! Using the element of surprise, I threw the mattress aside and reached through the slats on which it had lay, forfeiting precious mobility in order to choke the director beyond life’s warm embrace. Pathetically, the slats supporting my upper body cracked in two and my feet got caught and stayed in place. I landed eyeball-first on the edge of the bed below and began to bend and shrivel like a breakfast wiener carelessly tossed on a hot grill. Unable to feel my lower back and my right eyeball, I was forced to weather out the embarrassment, thinking, “Damn.”

Fast-forward to my college days. One day, in particular. A beautiful day. I woke up perkily with no sleep in my eyes, literally, honestly thinking that this day could possibly be the best day any man had ever had the pleasure to experience. It was though it was created solely for me. Visions of feasts and frolic danced around in my head as I found myself smiling broadly. I was a king and these 24 hours, they were my queens.

Unwilling to waste even one second of this unprecedented day, I leapt from the top bunk with a gleam in my eye. Oh no! Slow motion! Unfortunately, the bunk from which I leapt had a bunch-up of blankets ad my feet got caught and stayed in place. I landed nose-first on the top of my desk and rested heavily on my face like a bowed board of wood that had seen too many soggy winters in the backyard. Unsure of how to begin to right myself, I was forced to pause for a while, thinking, “Lord… I’m noticing a trend.”

And that’s when I realized my life’s calling: folly. Many people think of folly as silliness or immaturity, but it is the architectural definition that I feel applies to my life and physical presence.

Folly: “A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece.” Could this “extravagant structure” be my body? Is this a cocky definition for a man to self-proclaim? Perhaps. But the examples I have given – and will continue to give – are extremely humbling. For instance, where were my hands when I kept falling and landing directly on my face? Why weren’t they protecting me? Isn’t that sort of thing supposed to be instinctive? These are questions I simply cannot answer.

The biblical Job whined for 1,070 verses when God messed with him. I only muttered an “Ouch” and a “Damn” before I reached my nirvana. And now that my college days are behind me, I know I’m due for another “folly,” which will inevitably leave me suspended by my face and feet, thinking…

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