How long can a man go without god? What about food or drink or sex? Use it or lose it. You know it when you see it. How long can the piano sit in the dining room untuned? Cut the strings so the pieces unplayed never had a chance. What about the apple rotting on the ground, untasted. How long can its mealy flesh hold flavor while bees bore holes into its core. How long can a contented baby go without crying? Won’t you wake up in terrors to the silence? Would you ever forgive yourself if you slept through the night? What about the tattered books you lug from home to home in cardboard boxes? You can't carry yourself from place to place. Yellowed paperback surrogates must suffice. The words at least stay the same. Jake Barnes, my old friend. How long can you go without hearing your own name? Without seeing a thing and needing to give it a name? I’ll give you a minute. I’ll give you a lifetime. It’s a simple formula. Take the flat tire in your garage. Add the field equations of Einstein. Sprinkle in a swath of spongy March lawn. A pinch of your ass when no one notices. Mix it all together. Stir until your arm falls off. It’s apple pie. It’s stars and stripes. It's space and time. It’s the great American Novel. It’s weeping in the shower. It’s whispering half a prayer and letting the rest unfurl without words. It’s love and spite. It’s all that you allow yourself to eat.