Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A really really small snail on a quite big beach.

As seen on Southerndown beach near Bridgend in South Wales. He was tiny, but we found him to be fascinating. Upon inspecting the snail, I was struck by how unfathomably complex the patterns on its shell were; struck by how something so small can be alive and need to eat and rest and do whatever snails do all day. He was well and truly hiding up in his shell - I guess waiting for the tide to come and save him from prying, sunburning idiots like me - and wasn't game for coming out.

Total perspective issues then flooded into my mind. I must have as much idea about the universe and how it really works as that snail has about Cheltenham's one way system. That put my egotistical, self indulgent, self interested self in its much more insignificant place. Which reminded me of Douglas Adams's description of the The Total Perspective Vortex in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It was a device that was used as an extreme punishment for criminals; they were put into the machine which proceeded to show them as they truly were against the terrifying, mind-malfunctioning vastness of space. They duly went mad and were well and truly punished. Except that when Zaphod Beeblebrox - one of the main characters and the very definition of narcissism - was put in, he came out reassured that he was exactly as wonderful as he thought he was.

I think I would struggle in the Total Perspective Vortex. Maybe the best way to cope is go for the snail's approach: I don't think he gives a toss about the one way system in Cheltenham. Or anything other than his dinner, for that matter. Doesn't seem right though - we're not snails and we are wired up to care about more than just dinner, thankfully. Maybe, then, I'll concentrate a bit harder on not believing my own hype and trying instead to just enjoy myself and the world a bit more. There's much to see and do...so many rocks to crawl across.

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