There is no such thing as “The Ultimate Guide.”
You guys know that, right? I mean, people need to stop trying to sell me The Ultimate Guide to Buddhism or Feminism or Soapmaking. They need to stop trying to make me believe that they have all the answers. Because, well, they don’t.
I’m sitting here in the library, between shelves of books that have sold because they’ve claimed to have all the answers to some completely arbitrary topic, and by extension, everything. And I’m sitting in this wealth of information, information that doesn’t really help me, doesn’t really get me out of this deadbeat town any quicker, doesn’t really help me to figure out how to make something of myself, and I’m having something of a religious experience listening to Talking Heads.
So, I’m wondering why this is: why is it that people claiming to have all the answers leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled, but a 4-minute-20-second song sung by David Byrne does something for my pathetic situation?
And I’m thinking that it has something to do with concession of incompleteness.
All of those “Ultimate Guide”’s? They’re complete, they’re finished, they’re printed and bound. And therefore, they don’t have real answers for meâ€”not the kind I would want, anyway. Oh, sure, they can try to anticipate the questions I’ll have and answer them. But ultimately, the questions I have and the questions they think I have are two very different things.
But a pop song has something different, apparently. David Byrne isn’t telling me how to change my life; he’s just reminding me that it’s the same as it ever was. He’s not offering answers; rather, he’s admitting that he’s exactly as lost in all of this as I am.
He’s admitting that everyone’s just in a never-ending competition to outwit each other, but meanwhile everyone is exactly as lost as everything else. He’s conceding that no one really has it all figured out.
And through this, I guess, so am I.