It’s Monday morning, which means it’s time for a quick, routine existential crisis. I was shaving, and I asked myself. “How much is one?” I’m flossing, and I ask, “What does one feel like?” I am brushing my teeth, and I ask, “How should one feel” I am showering, and I ask “How might one feel?”
When I experience a full blown spiritual crisis, I go to the trusty book that can help any problem in life that has a word for it. The dictionary.
“Don’t fail me now unabridged corpus of the English language.” The definition of one! Here we go! The dictionary says, “One is half of two.” Half of two? How can I know what half of two is if I don’t even know what one is!? So I checked the definition of two.
The dictionary said of two, “equivalent to the sum of one and one.” So the sum of two ones is two, and now (apparently), one can be plural. If two is “one and one,” then why don’t we just call two ones? I was getting ahead of myself, and I saw there was another definition for two. Ah ha! An insight. The dictionary defined two, furthermore, as “one less than three.”
Okay I’m officially lost. What does three have to do with two and more importantly, what does three have to do with one? You’re telling me, dictionary, what two and three are, but didn’t tell me what one is?
I closed the dictionary and went to a drawer where I kept something that proudly and confidently said it was one. “This one must know all about one,” I thought, because this one is so confident that it is one, it invokes GOD to certify that it is one. In fact, it had the symbol 1, the word ONE, and the first president of the United States printed on it.
“Dollar bill,” I addressed, “Are you one?”
The dollar bill looked at me, and it said, “I cannot tell a lie. I am one hundred cents.”
“You deceive me, dollar bill.” I folded it and threw it back into the drawer that I keep this one dollar bill and no other one dollar bills in. Now I know why. One is not one if one is reducible to other ones.
However, there is one penny in this drawer, and this penny also cites God in its oneness.
“Penny,” I moaned and rubbed my forehead, “What are you?”
“I am one,” the penny earnestly responded.
I emitted a sigh of relief, but I was still skeptical. I asked, “Penny, how do you spell your name?”
The penny replied, “0.01.”
I slammed the drawer shut. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, exhaled, and opened my eyes. I slowly opened the drawer, and I cautiously asked the penny, “Are you one hundred percent sure?”
The penny, disappointed, says “I am only one percent sure.”
I tell the penny, “Thank you for your honesty.” I close the drawer knowing why I keep this penny in the drawer with not one other penny. One is not one if one needs other ones to be one.
I have a framed mirror above this drawer. I look at myself, and I ask, “Am I one?” I know that my cells which — on their own — metabolize energy, divide, and die would disagree. So would the tiny organisms that eat these dead cells and help me digest my food. I am, as they are, reducible to ones less than one.
And there is a greater one and there are greater ones that I am one of. Whatever those intangible ones are, they are so big that only math can measure their ones and oneness. Surely, they must know I am not one, because I am just one part of them.
I panicked, “Oh no! What if I am not one and I am merely ones!? Is ones less or more than one!? How do I find my oneness!?”
It’s 22 June 2020. Two and a half decades ago on this day, I was in a little league baseball game. It was the bottom of the last inning of a game in which we were down by one. I was up to bat. Everyone wanted me to swing. I bunted the ball and got onto first base. Meanwhile, a runner ran to home. We were tied.
I stole second. I stole third. And I stole home. We won by one. The team ran out of the dugout, and they celebrated me as the one who won the game. It was all of us who won — all of us who scored the points and got the outs before that final one point. I didn’t hit a home run. I didn’t hit the ball very often nor did I have the opportunity to. Honestly, I was frightened when batting. The coaches usually tucked me away in the corner of the outfield or on the bench. That was the only time I went up to bat that game. Nobody expected me to do that, but nobody expected that I would use that time to think about the epistemological paradoxes of existence either.
I have to say, that by 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning, this is a lot of headway on my existential crisis. I’ve even channeled one of my most important childhood memories. I may be over this by the end of one week. A new record.
I am one and not one. I am more, and I am less. My understanding — the lines I draw around one — are fabrications to help me make sense of infinity.
Lately, I’ve been focusing on one glass of wine on reasonable days of the week, because my preference to drink ones of glasses or one bottle — perhaps ones of bottles — is more and less than what I need. When I take my senses off of one, more becomes more until more runs out, and when more runs out, all I feel is less. I must let go of the oneness of one and embrace all and nothing that is one and not one.
I guess I don’t know how much one bottle is, because I just found out what the standard is for one glass of wine: one hundred and fifty milliliters.
With measuring cup in hand, I started evaluating my pours, and I found out something interesting. One bottle of wine isn’t one; it’s five glasses. The singularity of the bottle is as deceiving as the plurality of its glasses. I went from having one bottle, to having ones of glasses, and now I think I know how to drink one glass of wine. Slowly, deliberately, and wholly. As one. And not one. Whatever.