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Human Condition

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“All I’m saying is that if people weren’t so scared and greedy, and would learn to buy and not sell, this whole mess would be over.” I make my point, then finish the last bite of meatloaf on my plate.

My grandma, my younger sister, and I sit at the dinner table, deep in discussion. In the center of the table, left over meatloaf and an extra baked potato sit in their respective dishes, waiting to be put in the fridge and become someone’s lunch. I’ve never understood the negative stigma TV puts on meatloaf, but that’s probably just because of the great cook who usually makes mine. Arrayed around the edge of the table, our plates are clean, the forks and knives resting contentedly on the ceramic of our dishes.

“Well, what do you expect, Stephen? Greed and fear are part of the human condition; it’s a bit hard to change that, unfortunate as it may be.” My grandma retorts, not unkindly. She makes her points well, with a wisdom that tempers but does not quench her idealism.

“Well then,” I say, a twinkle in my eye, “Maybe it’s time we got going and found a cure for the human condition.” I’m very happy with my self at this bit of wit.

“Cure the human condition? Wouldn’t that involve killing people?” My sister puts in, refusing to acknowledge the humor and poking a hole in my ego.

“Yeah, it is a fairly essential part of life, you know.” Grandma agrees.

“Well, maybe not ‘cure,’ then, but at least treat. All I’m saying is that with all the trouble the human condition causes, and with all the money we spend developing frivolous TV medications, we really should be looking at it instead. That way, when someone starts showing symptoms of the bad parts, we can just treat it and everyone will be happy.” I’m determined to see this line of wit out until it gets a laugh, if it takes me until the end of time. Plus, I have dishes tonight, and every moment spent talking is a moment not cleaning.

“Careful, that sounds pretty dangerous. The human condition is what makes everyone who they are, and if you change that, you take away people’s identity. It sounds like it would be a good idea, but I don’t think it would work. It’s not like you appendix or something you can just remove, you need it.” Grandma’s logic is impeccable, and I give in.

“Fine,” I say, mock-pouting. “But it would be nice if people weren’t so darn annoying most of the time.”

“See, the thing I’ve come to realize, is that everyone’s on a journey. Everybody’s moving through this plane of ours at their own pace, but we’re all going to the same place.” Grandma’s Californian spiritualism is showing through, and I listen intently. I find her surety in the mystery of the world comforting. “So if some people seem dim, or overly self-absorbed, or start to show too much of any part of the human condition, it’s just because they’re just starting out on their journey, and you shouldn’t blame them. They haven’t had time to work past it yet. You’ve just got to accept them, come to grips with your own realities, and focus on your own issues.”

“Well, that sounds reasonable,” I muse, then fall back on an old family joke when we get in these sorts of discussions, one I’ve used since middle school at least, maybe even earlier. “I bet no other kids talk about the nature of the universe over dinner!”

As always, she chuckles at this, then, still smiling, says “I guess not. It is your night for the dishes though, even if other kids have to do that.”

“Right back down to the mundane.” I grumble, and begin to clear the table.



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GlenBen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 15, 2009 at 9:09 am
I agree with your grandmother. People have always liked their indulgences, and they always will. It's not something that people can change or that they will want to change. That being said, it was an interesting and enjoyable article. Keep writing. :)
 
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