Wednesday, September 30, 2009

my philosophy of life

Sometimes, people ask me, "Hey, Doc Nagel! What's your philosophy of life?"

(See, because I'm a philosophy instructor.)

And when I answer, I say:

One of my favorite ways to spend time is, if I'm getting into an elevator, and I'm the only person in the elevator car, when the doors close, I wedge myself between two walls of the elevator car, and I shimmy up the sides until I'm braced up against the side walls up on the ceiling of the elevator, and I hang on up there, and wait. Then, when the elevator is called to a floor, and the doors open, and someone looks inside and sees me hanging up on the ceiling of the elevator car, they have that moment of hesitation, that moment of doubt. They're not sure what's going on. For all they know, I might be a criminal mastermind in the middle of a jewel heist, or I might be a crazed knife murderer who has a fetish for elevator riders, or I might be a psychiatric patient who has stopped taking his meds. They don't know I'm just a nut who likes hanging out on the ceilings of elevators.

It makes an impact.

Suddenly, their worlds have been altered, irrevocably. The world, for them, is now a place where they can't be sure they won't wait for an elevator, only to have the doors open to show them there's a guy on the ceiling, staring down at them.

They have to wonder about the world now, at least for a while. If a simple elevator ride can turn out to be such an incongruous experience, well, what next?

After a while, people stop asking.

1 comment:

Robert Kirkman said...

If only Socrates had thought of stunts like this! Philosophy might be a lot more fun, all around.

As it is, we spend far too much time strutting and preening and making ex cathedra pronouncements when we could be out there actually making people think . . . if only for a moment.