I’m not the one to ask, really.
Growing into this absurdity called maturity by most, I thought exactly the opposite—I am the one to ask. So ask away. Shoot. Let me have it all, no matter the degree of difficulty. Go one, don’t be afraid. Remember, though, that I will answer with stark honesty. I won’t hold back because, after all, no one who is the one to ask holds back when he or she is asked.
After a while I realized that others thinking they were the ones to ask were dealing misinformation, that is, stuff that they believed or imagined or concocted to sound like the answer simply because they felt they were the ones to ask.
Becoming aware of this, I began to ask myself, since I was the one to ask, the very questions I would tell anyone to ask me, the one to ask. The results were vibrant with contradictions; they sounded flexible, unfixed and questionable.
If answers sound questionable to the one to ask, then where does the one to ask go to ask the questions arising from the answers given by the one to ask?
That’s when I took pause and began to realize that I am not the one to ask.
Once, so it is fabled, a lost soul sought an answer from the Buddha. The man asked a question because he was convinced that the Buddha was the one to ask. The Buddha looked a man in the eyes and the man felt well, mostly because of those beautifully blessed Buddha eyes. The man felt his innards were aglow. The sensation was ineffable and the moment seemed to be stuck in an eternal present state.
Then the Buddha began to talk and the spectacular sensation faded like old pink paint. As his sense of touch returned, the man experienced annoyance, stress, disappointment, nausea, a cold sweat, tingling in his left shoulder, a toothache, dryness of the mouth, sniffles and a compendium of hideous thoughts that were frightening and yet remarkably peaceful.
That’s when the man pulled back his right arm and launched a fist into the Buddha’s face much like Cassius Clay’s alleged “twister punch that knocked down Sonny Liston.
Buddha made his point.
This has nothing to do with the idea that the answers most people look to find are within you because they aren’t there. That also doesn’t mean someone else is privy to them so you had better be prepared to travel to a legendary spot in the Far East that is so remote your means of transportation diminishes from jet to donkey before you arrive at the foot of the mountain you must climb with your bare hands. It’s a rouse that The One To Ask resides anywhere that is more than a brief walk to a store selling mile and bread.
This has all to do with perception—the basic component in the formation of a concept. So, I stopped conceiving that I was the one to ask.
At that point in my life I began to absorb a modicum of insanity and a shred of sanity that created perfect balance, like a rat in a palm tree. My very existence would hang in the balance. Still does.
Gertrude Stein must have once thought she was the one to ask. Certainly others thought so. Once she was accepted as a “voice” by a public of some number, anyone having contact with Gertie questioned her about nouns (people, places and things). It went without saying that Gertie was the one to ask.
Gertrude Stein said:
“There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.”
People were insulted. That the answer was and always will be that there is no answer pissed off people who asked for the answer.
However, someone wrote that quote down and through the countless and mysterious journeys through time, the damned quote arrived to my consciousness. It just so happened to get here at a time when it caught my attention, a time when I had long surrendered the title of The One To Ask. I immediately identified with the fervor in which it had been originally presented. I could hear Gertie’s firm New York-accented voice bellowing each word, some packed with spit, some with a cracked voice. Mostly, though, at the sight of the punctuation resolving the quote, I turned from it and began to make some coffee.
Hmmmm. You know what goes good with this coffee? Apple Pie. And I just happen to have some. In fact, it’s a Dutch Apple Pie. Black coffee and Apple Pie. The best idea I had all day.
Perhaps that answers all of your questions. You can count on it, in fact. I should know, even though . . .
I’m not the one to ask.
Written & Published by Frank Cotolo exclusively for FourCulture.com