I was on a train in Spain crossing the plain eating plantains maintaining my brain.
Ok, that last part was wrong. I was on a train in Spain, but it was going along the Mediterranean coast. It was somewhere between the French border and Barcelona. And I was in the train compartment reading and eating — but probably not plantains.
This was back in student days. I had inexplicably found myself not only able to study in Rome for four months in a convent a mile from the Vatican, but I still had enough money left over at the end of the semester to spend ten days wandering around on my own in Spain, reliving some of what I had read in Hemingway as an impressionable 13-year-old. I was in a state of perpetual amazement at the experience back then. I still am, in some ways.
Anyway, to enrich the Spanish experience in my proto-hipster way, I was reading Don Quixote by Cervantes like some pretentious dweeb. The thing is, I was really truly enjoying the book. More people need to read it these days. It’s comedic in a way that we’d recognize as comedy. Cervantes and Shakespeare died within the same day in 1616, did you know that? Shakespeares “comedies” are kinda . . . ehh. . . . it’s funny, I suppose. Cervantes stuff could be translated into modern idioms and people would think it was Judd Apatow or Joss Wheedon behind the keyboard. There’s stuff in that book that makes you laugh out loud, and not just LOL. I mean audibly.
Anyway, so I’m on this train in a compartment and there’s this Spanish tradesman or something sitting across from me. He kinda smiles, then asks me what I’m reading. I show it to him. He says:
Ay, Don Kee-zhot. No me gusta. Nada mucha pasa.
Yes: He didn’t like it. Nothing much happens in it. That’s what he said.
So much for Cervantes being a national hero.
But in a general sense, despite him being kinda wrong, I had to admit he was kinda right. Who wants to read a book where nothing much happens?
And by extension, who wants a life where nothing much happens?
My life has been a comedy far more than a tragedy. Wacky, crazy things have happened. The older I get the easier it is for me to look through the telescope the wrong-way and see all these wacky events unfolding through time. It’s been a hell of a ride.
And I don’t understand why anyone would want a life where nothing much happens.