A Journey Of A Thousand Words

They say a photo is worth a thousand words. I’ve decided to put that theory to the test and will now attempt to write  a thousand words about this picture.


There he sits. He is still, motionless, lifeless and all is perfectly calm. He quietly rests on a white sheet of paper, oblivious to what his future may hold and where he may go. He is just a lowly popsicle stick.

He was for a time, part of a mighty tree in the woods. A lot has changed since then. The majority of the wood from the tree was used for other purposes. Part of it is now a cabinet in Oklahoma, a canoe in Alaska, a potato crate in Idaho, and even a roll of toilet paper in Alabama. Yes, this lonely stick is now a fragment of what he once was.

For  a few months, he was accompanied by another popsicle stick. They were both in a frozen banana popsicle. For them it was a cold existence, but they really didn’t mind. You see, wood is used to cold weather. Wood spends many decades or even centuries braving the harshness of winter. So living in a freezer, lodged in a frozen banana flavored liquid, and wrapped in a wrapper was nothing terribly difficult for this stick.

It was a fateful day when he and his friend were pulled from the freezer. The fate however, was much worse for the popsicle itself, for it had to endure melting in a hot bath of stomach acid. The journey from there would only grow worse, so we’ll just leave that to your imagination, dear reader. Yes, the stick had it easy by comparison, for all he had to endure was a bit of saliva.

For a short period, the stick was abandoned and left sitting on a piece of furniture. It was only a matter of time before he would find companionship in a large rubbish bag full of many unseemly forms of refuse. Candy wrappers, bread bags, plastics of many a different sort, spoiled food and who knows what else would abide with the stick for many many moons.

The stick’s eventual resting spot would be a landfill in some remote region. No one knows exactly where this landfill is, for discovering that fact would’ve taken a great deal of effort. (Not to mention time and money.) Indeed, tracking the location of a used popsicle stick seems rather unimportant in today’s modern society. Would it have ever been important?  It seems unlikely, as many many sticks have been discarded over the years  and no one has ever felt inclined to discuss them since their demise.

The days in the landfill would move slowly for the stick. He would gradually degrade day after day in the hot sun. His companions around him would slowly lose form, and become a sticky gooey wretched smelling mass of organic matter.

The spoiled food was the first to go. It was ravaged by millions of little bacteria all too eager to feast. The paper waste was the next to degrade, and then the stick itself. There they all sat, a wet mess in a plastic bag. The plastics were much more stubborn. They would take hundreds of years to break down and finally free the contents inside. At that time, all that was in the bag would return to the earth. And off in a distant woods, a lumberjack will be chopping down a tree. New wood will be made into many different things; even some popsicle sticks. And for the new sticks, their journey will be just beginning.

What will become of the white sheet of paper, you ask? Well we simply don’t know. The piece of paper could take many different paths. He could be a quick note to a distant friend, a love letter to someone special, a printout of a map, a doodle sheet, a drawing, or maybe even a sheet of homemade wrapping paper.

But paper is becoming less and less important these days. Fewer people are reading newspapers, writing letters, writing checks, or even paying paper bills. Does that mean our need for paper will shrink over the next few decades? Most assuredly so.

However, the population of the world continues to rise, and more people in this world means there will be more butts.  The more butts there are, the more toilet paper we’ll need. Sure, people could switch to bidets, but let’s be honest, they seem awkward and weird. Frankly, I can’t imagine using one, and even if I did, I’d still need to use something to wipe the moisture off my butt. That substance would likely be paper.

Indeed, paper seems like the logical solution. Using a normal towel for the purpose would be gross and unsanitary. And I’m pretty sure that no one in his right mind would be willing to use some sort of a butt drier.  So let’s just keep our toilet paper and avoid the whole awkward bidet issue.

Anyway, as we get closer to the end of our journey of a thousand words, I do hope that you, dear reader, enjoyed the ride. It’s hard to believe that everything I’ve just written was inspired by a simple picture of a wooden popsicle stick sitting on a white sheet of paper.

As we reach our conclusion, I’ll just take a moment to tell you all that banana popsicles are very very wonderful. If you’ve never had one, or haven’t had one in a very long time, I would suggest you get in your car and drive to the store and buy some. You’ll probably be very very happy, and if not you can just give the popsicles to me.

Oh and hey, as long as you’re there you might wanna pick up some toilet paper. It sure couldn’t hurt anything. It’s probably a good idea to keep a few extra rolls around. You never know when you might suddenly have a bunch of guests over, and running out of toilet paper is exceedingly embarrassing. So yeah, why don’t you just hop in your car right now and go buy some banana popsicles and toilet paper?

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