Believe-A Win Win Situation

Banff Barroom Philosophy

Under cloudy skies the next day we were walking in Banff’s downtown area
of when we heard a ratty- tat -tat on a windowpane. When we turned to see
what it was, we saw Dain’s smiling face in the window. Upon entering
the place, Mike and I grabbed a couple beers from the bar and walked
over to where he was sitting.

“These are the guys who helped me find my dog,” Dain said. “Guys,
these are my Egyptian friends who are, presently, trying to convert
me. Sit down and join us.” As we slide into the booth, moving Dain
farther into the corner, the Egyptian guy across the table said,
“Before we get off the subject, I just want you to think about what I
said. Okay?”

“I will,” Dain responded. “I guess everybody has to believe in something.”

“Think about what,” I interrupted.

“We were just talking about the wager, Pascal’s wager,” replied Dain.
“Pascal said that a prudent person should believe in the hereafter. If
you believed in the hereafter, and it turned out to be true, you won
eternity. But, you faced damnation and possibly an eternity of torment
if the hereafter existed, and you refused to believe. And, if the
other side of the coin was true; that is, if you believed in an
after-life, and at the end there turned out to be only annihilation
and death, then, while you were alive, you at least lived a life that
mattered. Either way, you won, and that was why Pascal believed there
was only one alternative when it came to believing in the hereafter.
It was a win-win situation, as long as you believed.”

“Oh, yea, I know that one,” I said, “I don’t have a problem with it
either. It’s just that I could never get around to figuring out which
after-life to believe in. With my luck, I would probably believe in
St. Peter, and, as my reward, end up being reborn as a dog. Speaking
of mutts, how’s Old Whitey doing?”

“Just fine,” said Dain, “She’s a great dog.”

“I’m glad it worked out,” I replied, “Who knows, maybe Mike and I were
supposed to hook you up with her. Maybe she wasn’t abandoned. Maybe
she was your long lost lover, and she’s back to pick up where you guys
left off. Even if she is a dog, it’s still a romantic thought, don’t
you think? Stranger things have happened, I’m sure.”

“You’re sure are you,” Mike spoke up. “You’re sure that people die and
come back as dogs in order to find their lost love interests? Maybe
you should have another beer and drink yourself sober. That makes more

“No, it’s true,” came a small voice from across the table, “In India,
reincarnation is a common belief. They call it `transmigration of souls.'”

“Please don’t take offense,” Mike said to the small dark skinned girl,
“But I don’t care what it’s called. To me it’s a bunch of crap! Even
if I heard it straight from the dog’s mouth, I still wouldn’t believe it.”

“No chance of that,” said Dain, “reincarnation will take place before
a dog can talk.”

“I beg your pardon,” I said, “just because you haven’t heard of a
talking dog that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And, even if they
can’t speak English, that doesn’t keep them from communicating in dog
language. Right?”

“I’m not saying dogs can’t communicate,” Dain responded. “I’m saying
they don’t use language to communicate. When it comes to using
language, dogs just don’t have the physical or mental capacity to get
the job done.”

“So what makes you so smart,” I said, “Maybe you’re not sophisticated
enough to understand dog language? When we speak, dogs understand us.
Maybe we’re just not smart enough to understand them. Maybe, if the
truth were really known, dogs would be smarter than you and I put

“If you say so,” replied Dain, “but I have never learned anything in
school that said dogs were smarter than people. Language, human
language, goes beyond the stuff other animals are capable of.”


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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