Pretzels in a Paper Towel

img_0052I felt like having a snack and something profound occurred. I took a handful of pretzels of uniform size and length and tossed them into a half-sheet of paper towel. At this point the pretzels pretty much fell where ever they fit, a few even threatened to escape. This wasn’t the profound thing I mentioned above. Actually, I am beginning to think that I should not have characterized this entire event as ‘profound.’ By so doing, I have lifted your expectation to a height that I may well fail to approach.

The profound thought struck me when I attempted to pick up my paper towel full of pretzels. I didn’t want to drop any. And so, to ensure that they all remained on my paper towel, I picked up the four edges and proceeded to my seat. When I set the pretzels down on the table, the paper towel folded back flat to reveal img_0053that all the pretzels had aligned themselves in an orderly fashion. What had been chaotic and disjointed previously, now lay uniform, facing a common direction. I stared at my pretzels for a long time. They had conformed. I couldn’t decide if they were more beautiful now in their unity or more beautiful before in their wild abandon. I pondered the affect of that sheet of paper towel. Once encased, previously unruly individuals had been pressured into complacency.

For a moment I glimpsed the paper towel as our environment and the hapless pretzels as human beings. What power our environment has over us. It nips at our heels, herding us into place. A steady, subtle, coercion infiltrating our minds and hearts, twisting us to fit in.

But then again, it’s only a handful of pretzels in a paper towel.

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