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Squid #468
(published January 7, 2010)
Ask the Giant Squid: Grasping The Far-Flung Passions With All Your Mighty Hands
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid:

I am a doctor from India. From past 8 months I was preparing for USMLE exam (license exam to work in U.S. health care), meanwhile in July I gave Indian post graduation exam, at that time I decided to just give the exam as to make my future secure that if by chance I don't get through USMLE exams then I can join post graduate training here. By grace of God I cleared that exam. I just kept it on side and started preparing again for USMLE. I planned to give it in January, but in October i got call from a very good hospital to join residency program and I accepted it and at that time I thought that it will be a help to me to work in clinical settings and study for steps, but from last month up till now I amn't getting time to focus on USMLE study. I go at 8 am and come back till 5.15pm, and than have to complete my assignments of residency. Days are passing like this and with every day I get more and more irritable and worried. I am getting good pay and location of hospital is near my house, but to pass USMLE was and is my passion. What should I do?

Troubled in Delhi

My Dear Indian Friend:

It is a terrible thing to orient one's life next to one's passion, but not directly within the stream of it.

To teach literature, but not to write it; to fix cars, but not to race them; to breed and raise dogs, but not to devour them. I do indeed pity you, for your plight is the human plight, the sentient plight, the struggle of generations and of civilizations.

I am reminded here of my brother, Lemuel, who wanted for all the world to be a taxidermist. But, of course, he was a giant squid and lived deep beneath the waves in the benthic abyss, and so saw dust would be crushed by the pressure. And also, whenever he was presented with a dead opossum, instead of gently fitting its fur around a foam form, he would devour it rapaciously, and then weep with guilt and shame for ten hours.

He had a habit of preserving the skins of sharks that he killed for fun. He would proceed through clouded waters, especially around polluted bays, and he would twist and wriggle his hunting arm so as to appear, in the miasma, like a wounded fish. He had also, of course, salvaged experimental Soviet magnetic communications gear from a lost Stalinist submersible, and he used this to confuse the sense of the sharks.

Then he would capture the shark in a grim, but not deadly, embrace.

Deep, deep he would descend, to just a few tens of feet beyond the shark's ability to tolerate the pressure, and there, enfeebled, he would keep the sharks stupefied and confused. Sometimes he might amass a school of seven or eight sharks, all of different pieces, their brains compressed, their sinuses contorted, and like lobotomized retarded children, they would follow him and his whim with jaws slack, teeth bared.

He would stuff them with halibut, with Newfoundlands, with star fish, whatever was at hand. And the shark would bloat, grow corpulent. They would hang in the water column for hours, barely moving back and forth, their black eyes gone milky.

And then he would drag them down a hundred feet and crush their hearts. He would skin their stretched and fat flesh, and then feed their flesh to the other sharks. One by one they would be destroyed, the remaining members fattening even more.

He, with the legs of sea spiders, stitched together a massive cloak of sharkskin, and would sometimes draw it about himself as a shark costume. He wore about his cephalic sack a mantle of dorsal fins, and all about his maw he had surgically affixed hundreds of shark teeth of various and assorted sizes.

All he had wanted, really, was to be a ten year old boy in Indiana circa 1953. Was that too much to ask of the world? Well, apparently so. He would not be collecting beaver pelts and sending them off to Sears to be cured for $.65 a hide.

Instead he became, of course, the most terrifying serial killer of the Great Barrier Reef.

To what point do I ascend, my friend?

There is a purpose for each creature in this world. Sometimes that purpose is so perversely far from us that we see no way of achieving it, of even approaching it.

But the Universe is cruel. It does not care. It expects us to achieve our task, damn the cost, or to die in the attempt.

Live not another moment in the life next door!

Enter your life, your destiny, by the front door. Claim it as your own. For to take any other path is surely the road to madness and horror most foul.

I Remain Yours Faithfully,
The Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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The Next Squid piece (from Issue #469):

Ask the Giant Squid: Embracing that at Which You Excel

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Ask the Giant Squid: Resolving How to Choose

Ask the Giant Squid: The Thoughts, and That for Which They Count

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Ask the Giant Squid: Concerning Todd

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