When There’s No There THERE

by Jake Block


You listened to the man for what seems forever about his tales on getting rich and striking that treasure he talked about with such conviction. He was a friendly enough character, and weaved his tale of gold for the price of a drink.   He talked forever, spinning yarns about golden treasure… he KNEW where it is for sure.  He could tell you the lay of the land, son, and surely what rocks to avoid.  Just listen to him and he’d be your guide, and in time, you’d see!
He’d told his tale over and over again.  And he’d convinced you that he’s the real deal, not just the town’s story teller.  And the others standing there with you, bought in hook line and sinker.  This man knows where lies the golden prize, for he is such an exemplary thinker!  So you listened to his tales again again and they bolstered your nerve and conviction that his is the path to greatness.  His is the path to the gold.  You buy in to the goal and set off on the quest.  You’ve paid for the map in your hand, and you follow the line that he’s dotted, out of the door and straight out of town, over the horizon you ride, when your remember Poe’s poem, El Dorado.
Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
   Had journeyed long,
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
   But he grew old—
   This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow—
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
   And, as his strength
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
   ‘Shadow,’ said he,
   ‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’
   ‘Over the Mountains
   Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,’
   The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’”
And after riding so long, you begin to question this map so fragile and yellow.  But there’s still the thought that “X” marks the spot and the words of that man you trusted.  He had to be true to be trusted, you think, as your canteen runs to dry and there’s nothing to drink.  He’s back in town, spinning his tales once more, while you’ve gone all-in with your bet.  And in the end you ask deep in the back of your mind, if the man was so sure, why hadn’t HE gone there yet?  You’ve followed his map and found nothing, just like a hundred before.  I’m sorry to say you deserve it.  You chose the easy way, or so you thought.  So as you sit there, empty of pocket and empty of spirit you begin to see the truth.
It doesn’t matter what tales you are told, the map in your hand or the journey you’ve taken.  It doesn’t matter if “X” marks the spot when there’s simply no there THERE.  Every boom town in the gold rush had a man with a tale to tell and a map to sell to the desperate.
The Internet is just the same.  There’s always a sucker, and YouTube is the town’s name.

One Response to When There’s No There THERE

  • Heh 😉 The questions “how do you know?” and “what gives you that idea?” or simply “how so?” are very useful in these cases. Overall, they’re exceedingly useful. Actual conversation follows…

    Wanna Be Guru: “Of course the universe is created, it’s scientificly certain!”

    Me: “What do you mean?”

    Wanna Be Guru: “Math proves it!”

    Me: How so?

    Wanna Be Guru: “The probability of all this just happening…”

    Me: Walks away, as the probability of me listening to another word had scientifically plummeted to zero.

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