December 5, 2018

Explanation

We had known that sooner or later we must develop an explanation for what we doing which would be short and convincing. It couldn’t be the truth because that wouldn’t be convincing at all. How can you say to a people who are preoccupied with getting enough food and enough children that you have come to pick up useless little animals so that perhaps your world picture will be enlarged? That didn’t even convince us. But there had to be a story, for everyone asked us. One of us had once taken a long walking trip through the southern United States. At first he had tried to explain that he did it because he liked to walk and because he saw and felt the country better that way. When he gave this explanation there was unbelief and dislike for him. It sounded like a lie. Finally a man said to him, ‘You can’t fool me, you’re doing it on a bet.’ And after that, he used this explanation, and everyone liked and understood him from then on.
— John Steinbeck, The Log of the Sea of Cortez, 1951