Campus Life wenbo’s walks

The waffle is a lie

The Earth in a tin can

As I pass Zinneken’s, “indulge” fills my mind the same way deliciously creamy syrup fills the wells of a fresh Belgian waffle. Simultaneously, guilt swoops in like an owl closing in upon its unsuspecting prey. My English teachers in middle school said I had a knack for conceiving nonsensical similes. I don’t know if that’s still true, but I suppose that’s not for me to judge.

“After the hook must come the thesis,” they said.

Do I have a thesis? Nope. Is it as #deep as how I ended my last column? Absolutely not. Nothing will ever beat overthinking an egg. Haha… beating an egg… get it? I know — I’m just too doggone funny.

Anyhow, feeling guilty is a complicated matter and poses more questions than answers. For instance, on a most fundamental level, where did this guilt originate?

Maybe nature is guilting me because I’m increasing my carbon footprint by listening to Carly Rae Jepsen as I walk. Or maybe my sweet tooth is guilting me because I’m not immediately handing this wonderful culinary establishment all of my money. Or even worse — maybe it’s something more meta, something only the reader of this column can appreciate.

What I mean, of course, is that the word “indulge” did not actually fill my mind the way deliciously creamy syrup fills the wells of a fresh Belgian waffle. I’m feeling guilty for lying about what I truly think. I know novelists and poets use figurative language all the time, but I’m no author.

I’m going to rectify that mistake by being com-plete-ly truthful from now on. I refuse to accept inaccuracies, even in the slightest.

But what if my heart says otherwise? My love of sarcasm and hyperboles extends beyond the confines of this world, and it’ll literally feel like the end of the universe if I were forced to give them up.

Actually, you know what? Forget that I just promised you that. Empty promises make me go into moral-existential crises: I’d rather not make that promise than be unable to follow through with it.

Anyways, as I discovered the other day, I lack an internal monologue. What I’m trying to confess is that the premise of this whole column is a lie. Maybe this isn’t purely a train-of-thought but rather an approximation of what my thoughts could be if they were actually processed in English.

Also, as it turns out, my friends with internal monologues tend to amuse themselves quite verbally about this when they could’ve just as easily done this with their inner voices instead.

Like, I can’t put my judgement of others into words unless I vocalize or write them down. But can y’alls who can at least try? I’m kidding. I love my friends too much — please don’t change your wonderful ways.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve tried to explain this phenomenon myself. I hypothesize that it’s because I grew up with both English and Mandarin. Maybe my brain couldn’t decide which language to stick with, so it just did the next most irrational thing: giving up on both. Ugh, I’m so indecisive.

As expected, just when I’m contemplating my own indecisiveness, the road before me branches into two and I’m confronted with the most important decision of my life. The butterfly effect dictates that the course of history could change drastically based on this singular choice.

Look, I just don’t want to pick the path that sends the universe spiraling toward a Big Rip. Whatever, I guess I’ll just take the rightmost one. I apologize to the universe in advance if I chose incorrectly.

I’m slowly approaching Harvard Square. “Indulge, indulge, indulge,” I mutter to myself. That reminds me of another word. Ah yes, “indulgence.” How unexpectedly religious of me!

“As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs,” Johann Tetzel once said, accidentally kick-starting the Protestant reformation with his rattling tin cans. I have absolutely no idea why that came to mind — I haven’t thought about Tetzel since middle school.

As I approach the T station, I hear the sound of rattling tin cans.

Wait. Did I unknowingly hear the tin cans first, which then caused me to think of Tetzel, or did I think of Tetzel, consequently becoming more aware of the cans? Taking psychology is truly changing my life… however you wish to interpret that statement. What an uncanny coincidence either way. Okay; I’ll stop.

I see a few students dressed in heavy coats collecting donations to fund climate change solutions research. I toss in a few coins, for whatever it’s worth.

Although both Tetzel and these students come bearing tin cans, I can’t help but notice the stark contrast in their intentions. Tetzel wanted money but used a false premise in religion to obtain it. These students want money too, but they’re collecting it for a cause that will actually benefit humanity.

What a shame that an issue like climate change, so fundamentally threatening to our livelihoods, has become a polarizing argument of truth. Let’s be clear: climate change is not a false premise.

It’s paradoxical to me how some people can value scientists in specific fields, such as healthcare and drug discovery, yet trample on good research when their beliefs don’t line up with other scientists’ results.

I wonder if many MIT students are just too preoccupied with problem sets and other activities to take more active roles in the issues they care about. Specifically with regard to climate change, I’m sure there are plenty of students who have organized events on or off campus and that there are many more who are passionate about the issue. Yet, as scientists, why aren’t we taking more charge?

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t exactly been a saint about environmentalism. I don’t carry reusable utensils, and I forget to bring my own bag sometimes when shopping. But I promise that I’ll do better. A promise is a promise, after all.

Next time, I plan to walk in the direction of Memorial Drive to see where that leads me… I’ll end this with the biweekly #deep question: what happens when our values collide with societal beliefs?