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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Adam’s path

This week’s story follows the life of Adam Pathy, an average someone born into an average family in Average Town, U.S.A. – a true simpleton, if you will.

During his early years, Adam, due to a rather unfortunate string of boredom, decided to take a walk on Life Street. Minutes into Adam’s walk, the street diverged into three separate roads, each of which varied accordingly in demeanor.

He looked to the right: a winding, onerous path traveling through rough thickets of tall grass and over mountain ranges extending far beyond plain view. “To Change,” read the sign picketed at the trail’s mouth. Eh, thought Adam.

He shrugged and walked to the trail on the left, a menacingly rocky trail which sunk into a dark tunnel devoid of even the faintest light. “To Continuity,” blood-written letters spelled out in the gravel leading to the passageway. Eh, thought Adam before shuffling toward the middle path.

Here, a flat conveyor belt stretched far into the distance, surrounded by barren land. “Meh, whatever,” mumbled a slouching youth, side-stepping around Adam and onto the conveyor belt. The youth slowly moved toward the horizon, emotionless and statuesque. Settling on this middle path, Adam then stepped forward and began his journey.

After some time on the path, Adam passed a group of Mexican men behind an impassable barbed fence in the middle of the desert – men who wanted entrance back into the land that was once forcefully taken from them. On the other side of the fence sat the men’s families – weeping children and resigned wives reaching for reunification.

“¡Ayúdeme!” a man shouted, pointing to a lock on the fence’s gate. A key then (phantasmagorically) appeared in Adam’s hand – a key that would give these men the freedom of choice he now had. Adam shrugged and tossed the key into the sand and dust, never to be found and continued forward as the cries behind him faded into windy howls.

On his 18th birthday, Adam came across a racially mixed man sitting on the side of the road with a plump, well-dressed white woman.

“Change! Change!” yelled the man. “Change!”

“Progress!” Crooned the woman.

“Eh,” muttered Adam, giving them nothing more than a glance before traveling further down the conveyor.

The rural outskirts of the desert quickly faded into a congested city, and with it, a thick black cloud of smog clogged the sunlight’s arteries. Cars zipped back and forth beneath the lingering shadows of factories and industry; horns honked with furious passion, and garbage skittered in spirals, as if trying to escape to a brighter place.

“Let me shine,” whispered the sun through it all, in a final effort to return before sinking away forever. “Help me, Adam.”

Adam rolled his eyes toward the charred, raging skies, and let a weak flatulence escape from his esophagus as the sun died away.

Careening through a research lab now, the conveyor moved forward, pulling indifferent Adam along. A woman in a white coat came into sight; in her hand was a rack of glowing test tubes, and behind her, millions of ailing patients.

“We can save these people!” she called out. “Together, we can cure the deadly diseases of the world!”

Looking down, Adam disregarded the woman, and onward he went.

Onward, past starving children scavenging through junkyards for scraps of meat, past bloody religious feuds, past oily oceans and littered beaches. Onward, as forests were bulldozed to the ground, as businesses and politicians became richer and the poor fell to their depressing demise.

And everything he might’ve accomplished, all the people he would’ve helped directly or through his merits, all his years – wasted on his journey down the middle.

As he neared the path’s end, Adam Pathy had grown old and weak. His slouch had progressed, and his words had never been spoken.

Adam was an average someone born into an average family in Average Town, U.S.A. Just ahead, the conveyor would come to an end and Adam Pathy’s tombstone, a drab stump of mortar, would lie awaiting the arrival of his bones. The stone was simplistic, but told all there was to know about this man’s life in its succinct engraving: A.PATHY.


ZACK CROCKETT is A. Pathy is you is everyone; start caring at ztcrockett@ucdavis.edu.


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