This morning at CT I did a dramatic (I guess?) reading of the text below, which is just a minor re-casting of Ecclesiastes 1-2 in my own words (but mostly the words of the CEB translation).
The words of a coder for a newspaper company, Tom’s son, an occasional poet in northern Virginia:
Utter BS, says the coder. Utter BS!
It’s all just BS.
Why do people work so hard under the sun?
I mean, what do we get out of it, really?
Our parents worked, we work, our kids will work. Nothing changes.
The sun rises, the sun sets, and then it runs around to the same place it started, already out of breath when the new dawn comes.
The wind blows round and round and round.
Streams all flow into the sea, but the sea never fills up, and they just keep on flowing.
And words! Don’t get me started on words. Lord have mercy, they wear me out.
And sights – they flow all day into our eyes, but just like the sea, our eyes never fill up.
Our ears never fill up with sounds.
Whatever happened before, it’ll just keep happening again. And again. And again.
There’s nothing new under the sun. Sure, people will say, “Look at this! This is brand spanking new!” But, I guarantee you it’s been around for ages. But nobody remembers things in the past, much less things to come in the future. And nobody in the future will remember us, either.
I’m a coder. I write apps for a newspaper company.
So I really started thinking about these things, started looking into them, you know? It’s a sad obsession that God gives to some of us lucky ones.
When I looked at everything that happens under the sun, I realized it’s all BS, pointless as blowing against the wind.
You can’t unbreak what’s broken.
You can’t count what isn’t there in the first place.
I said to myself, look, you’re pretty smart. You’ve learned a lot about what’s wise and what’s foolish. But what did that get you, exactly? The more you understand, the more suffering you see.
So I said to myself, cuss it – let’s just enjoy the good things in life! But this was BS too! I tried acting like a drunken fool—intentionally, you know what I mean?—so I could figure out how to really live this one short life.
I took on big projects. I busted my ass for work, for volunteer gigs, for family and friends, for art. If it seemed rewarding, I did it, and I really threw myself into it! And it was rewarding! But when I looked at the results of all that, I realized it was BS too – just blowing against the wind. There’s nothing to be gained under the sun, really.
So I started thinking about wisdom and knowledge, madness and foolishness. I could see that wisdom is better than foolishness – if I’m going to stumble around this screwed-up world, I’d rather bring a light than do it in the dark – but in the end? The same BS happens to the wise person as to the fool. We die, and we’re eventually forgotten. Everything we accomplish, everything we build, every life we touch will be left in the hands of people who will probably just cuss it all the cuss up. It’s all BS. Blowing against the wind.
So what’s good? Eat. Drink. Enjoy work and play. All of that is a gift from God, along with wisdom, knowledge, and joy for those who are wise enough not to just hoard everything – that is a dead-end path. But, really, so is the wise person’s path. It’s all BS. Just blowing against the wind.
Now, a part of me, the coder, agrees with the teacher, the author of Ecclesiastes. But another, bigger part of me disagrees, but often has trouble remembering why. So, let’s talk about why the teacher, and the coder, are full of BS themselves.
So, two questions:
- What’s new under the sun?
- What’s not BS?