Hard Competition

This morning I was in the garden/terrace of the house where I’m staying with some friends. It has a great view of the village down in the valley, and I like to spend a few minutes after waking up watching it wake up, watching the villagers start their early days and go about their business.

At 7 AM, I heard a bell ring and found myself trying to figure out what time it was (although I already knew). I was drawn to that line of thought because the unusual cadence caught my attention. It was difficult to tell one chime from another. In reality, what happened was this: the church bell was ringing into a little tune, and only after it was done, did it ring the time.

Another, closer church followed. It made a much shorter and less elaborate tune before it rang seven.

I imagine the priest (are the priests doing this or do they enlist a skilled person, a bell player?!) waking up startled with the bells from the other church, and running in haste to the bell tower, slightly ashamed for failing to ring the time before the competition. Yet, even so, he manages to make time for his own little tune.

I don’t know if any of this actually works like this. I don’t know if there is some sort of intra-parish competition. I don’t know if ringing the bell on time is a thing that matters to priests. And it probably wouldn’t be hard to figure out – but there are dozens of other things I don’t know that wouldn’t be hard to figure out.

And I like to know things. But there is not enough cognitive bandwidth to learn everything. We have to know how to choose. And there’s no harm in not knowing things, as long as we don’t try to pretend we know about them.

Stories are stories; some are true, others are meant to entertain. And some are both, but rarely by intention.