Tuesday, March 23, 2010


3 weeks ago Wendy stopped using our current tube of toothpaste.  She had tried to get more paste out but the tube was just empty, so she moved on.  I am more stubborn than that.  For the past 3 weeks I have been squeezing more and yet more toothpaste out of the tube, each time thinking that perhaps this would be the last and perhaps tomorrow would be the day that I failed.  Finally, yesterday the tube won and I lost - there was flat out no way I could get enough toothpaste out of it to brush my teeth.

The first two weeks were easy, it was just a matter of squishing and smashing, pushing harder and harder.  That last week though was rough as I had to massage the last remnants of toothpaste up the tube near the end and then hold the brush, jam my thumb in the tube to push the paste out and keep the paste from squishing back down the tube all at once.

On the second to last day I only managed to get enough paste by squeezing the paste to the top of the tube and jamming the bristles of the brush in to scrape it out of the tube - I couldn't even get the paste to clear the lip.

On the final day nothing would avail me, the tube truly was done.  It was clear there was an additional smidgen of paste there that could not be brought close enough to the lip for extraction, though if I had truly tried harder and got more equipment I might have been able to get one more day out of it.

It feels a bit like a video game.  I struggle mightily against a fixed opponent, using all my strength, experience and ingenuity to coax one more victory out.  I know there must one day be defeat and that victory can never continue forever and yet the struggle to push the envelope and go as far as I can is irresistible.  It goes far beyond any sort of exercise in economy or environmentalism and is purely man vs. environment where I fight with reckless abandon to hold back in inevitable.

For some reason the fact that the fight is unwinnable has immense appeal.  I long to stand and face the storm, to stare down an enemy I cannot withstand, to do the impossible.  This is some fundamental part of me - the desire to fight the impossible fight.

And there it sits, the thing that beat me, my better.  My loss was inevitable and unstoppable yet that struggle was so wonderful.  I think perhaps that is one of the great lessons of being happy - finding the thrill of competition and victory in the smallest things, such as getting the last possible drop of paste out of a tube that has been discarded as empty weeks ago.

1 comment:

  1. My cousin emailed me to say that comments were busted, so I turned moderation off again. Sigh.

    She was wanting to comment that she went further than me in trying to use up all the toothpaste - she slit the tube open end to end to get out another day's worth of paste! That is dedication all right.