A number of variations on the theme of self-realization
Why deny it. As a child I had the usual foolish dreams. For instance, I wanted to be a pilot, an engine driver, or failing that, an engine. Sometimes I even fantasized that when I grew up I’d become the Vienna Express.
A distant relative, the titular abbot Dr. Kniza, a highly educated and sober-minded gentleman, tried to talk me into becoming a pebble. To tell the truth, the finality, the rounded-out silence held a certain attraction for me. But Mom wanted just the opposite. She wanted me to find something related to time. ‘You go and be an egg, son,’ she’d urge me now and again. ‘An egg is birth and death all at once. It is time passing in a fragile shell. Anything can come of an egg,’ she reasoned.
But man proposes, God disposes and so here I am sand in an hourglass, possibly so both Uncle Kniza and Mom should be pleased. After all sand is timelessness incarnate and the hourglass is the ancient symbol of mortality. It even crops up in Egyptian hieroglyphics where it means "the sun’s on it’s way down, buddy!" "gosh, how time doth fly over the pyramids," "the migrating mynah birds are gathering without a permit again" and "what’s that pain in the pit of my stomach, dear Doctor Nephros?"
It is not easy landing such a comfortable job. But let it be said to Uncle Kniza’s credit that even though he disapproved of me compromising my principles in this way, he pulled some strings and I was hired on a temporary basis. I am temporary because I am used only for cooking eggs, so Mom was right on two counts, I guess.
For some time everything went smoothly and I was beginning to think I’d managed to make a very pleasant life for myself. That's when calamity struck. From one day to the next I got lumpy, which for sand is as disastrous as a beer-gut is for a belly dancer. I manage to squeeze my legs through somehow but my backside keeps getting stuck in the bottleneck with alarming frequency. I’ve tried going down head first, but the fact is I still don’t come out ahead, if you know what I mean. There I am squirming and writhing for all I'm worth for what seems like hours. The eggs stop cooking, the hourglass comes to a standstill, and all those grains of sand wait helpless above my head. They do not rush me in any way, mind you. Still, their patience acts on me like a mute reproach and its driving me nuts. I can’t even pretend it's not my fault because it is. I must have had a tendency to go lumpy all along. The truth is I'm just a reckless, rebellious and unsociable fellow patently unfit for sand.
At such times, all sorts of things come to mind.. Anyone who sees me today would never believe it but I could have become a vacuum in a light-bulb! And there was a girl too, a pretty though silly creature called Panni who was employed at the Batiste & Silk Works. Anyhow, one day she turned to me and said, ‘Listen, why don’t you come with me and we’ll make a pair of ladies’ panties out of you?' I was deeply offended at the time. But in my present predicament, her offer seems like an answer to my prayers. Even if being a pair of ladies’ underpants is not what you'd call a challene, it's got a certain je ne sais quoi about it, if you know what I mean.
Instead I am stuck in the bottleneck again from which place I wish to inform all those who I may have disappointed that though I received nothing but bad advice from my loved ones, I have no one to blame but myself. I shouldn’t have settled for this dull but secure existence. Had I been a little more adventurous, with a bit of luck I might have made something of myself. After all, if the engineer who designed the Queen Mary had thought of me instead, I wouldn’t have to pull in my stomach now in order to squeeze through this damned isthmus but, riding on top of fifty-foot waves, defying the elements, I’d be sailing the oceans with mast held proudfully high.