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There is a saying…actually, it could be considered a riddle; a riddle of life…perhaps The Riddle of Life.

The riddle’s components suggest that to decipher its meaning defines the meaning of all things. Hence, it turns out to be kinda like a big-time cosmic truth. 

But it only works if individuals posses an open mind. The kind of open mind too often discouraged in an open society.

The Riddle/Saying goes: ’When you are twenty, you worry about what people think about you. Then, by the time you reach forty, you no longer care what people think about you. Around sixty, you realize nobody was really ever thinking about you anyways.’ 

The riddle easily suggest that we waste most of our productive lives worrying about something that never existed. What else is new!

Is the cosmic truth of life that in time we all must accept being irrelevant? Not unlike pigs.

Ms. Jacobs pigs reminded me of this socio-psycho conundrum the other day. She stopped by the feed store Tuesday for breakfast on the way to the livestock auction. I parked next to her stock trailer and said ‘hello’ to the swine there seeming exciting about going for a ride, unaware of of their fleeting destiny.  

There is little sentimentality of such routines in Parrot County. In farm country the realities of life and death are tangible on a daily basis. It is life. Unlike in most populations, where life and death are measured by what they read or see on screens. 

Perhaps most of the world lives in the virtual world of consequence, yet secure with their place in the world rather than the world’s place in them. Which could also apply to their sense of their place in the cosmos.

If you ask Ms. Jacobs about such lofty philosophies she might suggests that her pigs are a good place to start. 

“Soon those guys (her pigs) will be bacon on the table or ribs in the smoker. They were exclusively purposed for that. They were breed, reared for their place in the world to that end. Unlike humans they have value after death. In a way they have two lives, three if you think they are God’s creatures and have a soul.”

I figured their consolation in life is no pigs ever had it better. Ms. Jacob’s farm might be the equivalent of a Five-Star bed and breakfast. Only the best food and medical treatment. None of her pigs ever feared a frosty night. Unaware of the big picture, unlike humans some may suggest. But Ms. J would be quick to point out humans never really understand the big picture either; the proper balance of self and community; of us in the world and the world in us; the delicate balance and mysterious science of psychology and sociology each of us must navigate, though never reaching port. 

I get the idea that Ms. J wonders if individuals in our culture are only defined in social terms.

The human animal, by design, is a collection of contradictions. God, for some reason loves to watch how His natural creations deal with contradictions…


I just made a clumsy writer’s mistake…perhaps the biggest social mistake a contemporary writer can.Actually two mistakes: I referenced God too early in an article, giving readers reason to stop reading. Second, I introduced God and Nature in the same sentence…losing many socially-correct thinking readers for sure.

No matter, it reinforces a point: To demonstrate-for those brave readers who continue-an essential tool in the Art of Irrelevance.

Managing our many contradictions, God gave each creature the tool of Creativity. It is each individual’s free-choice to choose using or not to use this tool. Creativity is not only ideas, it is execution to satisfy an end.

Is the secret to creativity really the Art of Irrelevance: Forget yourself to become yourself. Sounds like a classic irony to me. But sooner or later we all must admit, Irony can still be Truth.

Ms. J sometimes talks in riddles. she explained, “My grandmother, who was a great cook, once told me that the art of cooking is creatively making the most of leftovers.” Which I interpreted in a broader sense, ‘Art is making the best with what you got.’ 

She continued, “A good chef makes a list of ingredients for a planned event then goes to the market for specific items.”

Then she looked as if she was revealing some grand secret, “A great chef…goes to the market bravely without a list…and lets the food talk to them, telling what they can create in a spontaneous, magical moment.”

I thought about that…the difference between good and great. Good being proficient with your technique. Greatness comes from allowing the magic to come forth and play with you. Just one of many contradictions in the irony of life. It comes back to the individual.

A person must be very secure as an individual to rely so often on Magic. Perhaps the key word is ‘Individual’.

Ms. J’s story made me think about the stuff of contradictions, and I figured there was no bigger contradiction to irony than the struggle between Society and Individuality. 

Individuality vs. Society-what is the balance between one’s sociology and phycological; between the world in you and you in the world?

The dichotomy of people’s social viewpoints of community and individuality is the cause of much conflict throughout history. The two approaches might begin at birth and encouraged throughout a lifetime. 

The Big Question: Does Society serve the Individual or does the Individual serve Society. Good luck trying to resolve that mystery in a relatively short lifetime.

Either approach, Social or Individual priority, must measure success and operate within a systematic outline of what is considered an ideal Individual or Society. 

Good luck again. No matter which camp you pitch your tent, everyone around you has their unique approach to the respective goal. Go figure.

So, those who believe in a Social driven culture must always begin with just what a Correct Society should be in the end. One which individuals must conform to work properly.

Example; someone designs a car that runs on milk. Some individuals must be engine parts, some the transmission, some the seats, doors, radio…you get the idea. 

But…what if someone is a radiator, but they really want to be a taillight. That screws up the whole deal. “I don’t wanna do my job…I wanna be a taillight.” So the car just sits there; a plan not fulfilled. One piece can mess-up an entire plan. It may be a good plan, but the individual elements must each do their part to be successful. So, do you punish the radiator for the good of the many?

The extreme opposite it where the individual is the priority. The only plan, to create a societal environment that gives individuals the necessary freedom and resources to allow them to become, well, individuals; responsible for their own design, create their own plan of how things should be according to their interest, skills and ambitions. Part of that plan must include the ability to create a livelihood to sustain and develop their individual lifestyle. 

Initiated folks will invent new things not requested but might become something that everybody wants and needs. Innovation is born. This happens no matter who’s in charge, the difference is how well it is encouraged, introduced and applied to the culture.

Everyone can claim a dominant sense of how they view the operational balance between an Individual or Social-prioritized existence. Anyone eventually will gravitate to either pole. 

Like most of life’s contradictions, to survive it’ s best to mature both socially and individually; neither can win or lose; both must grow becoming bi-polar in capability, yet always the same person.

Like Sisyphus, we climb a hill pushing not one but two rocks slowly, upward through life. We eventually adopt our own, individual system of how we keep both moving, never allowing one to fall, thus everything falls.

It is the essence of every perspective humans will ever have, whether religious, political, economic or relationships since God created the first creatures. In order to survive, all animals, including humans, must dance with both partners: Self and Group.

Such is the conundrum of existence; the quandary of life. Such is the contradiction in which we all must manage, never to master. What rewards we glean in the end can only be answered by each. 

Ask a pig.

That day Ms Jacobs and I walked out to the parking lot together. I said a sincere ‘Goodbye guys’ to her pigs. She just laughed in a way that suggest she understood the cosmic truth better than most. 

Pigs don’t worry about a fear they don’t know exist. Satisfaction is acknowledging and comfort with The Art of Being Irrelevant.

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Bing spent 25 years in the Film Entertainment business. He also spent 10 years teaching university students visual storytelling and other production components of filmaking where he developed a curriculum entitled "Visual Language'.
He now lives in the rural farming landscapes of Kentucky where he spends time writing when farm chores allow.

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