Under the Skin

How my brother's fourth high-definition TV re-opened my eyes to spirituality.

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People differ. Take my brother TC and myself. TC is fifteen years older than me and lives in Atlanta. We didn't see too much of each other when I was a kid, and with all those years between us he often feels more like an uncle than a brother.



The differences go far beyond our age gap though. When I talk to TC on the phone--as I do every couple of weeks or so--I'm constantly surprised at how opposite the two of us are, especially considering all those genes we presumably share in common. I'm dreamy, impractical, and disdainful of worldly matters (I write for a living, which is pretty much the definition of impracticality, and I do much of that writing for a magazine about angels, which in my book is about as otherworldly a writing job as you could ask for). TC, on the other hand, is down-to-earth and sensible. He was a stockbroker for years, and while he's no longer involved in stocks today, he still spends much of his time thinking about technology, world economics, and other such un-poetic, un-spiritual, real-world concerns; stuff that I, in contrast, couldn't care less about. I've never asked him outright, but I'll bet he doesn't believe in angels either.



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TC also

talks

like a stockbroker. Whereas I'm always shifting back and forth from emphatic enthusiasm to tentativeness and doubt (a reflection of my general distrust of the material world and my deep desire to get up and out of it as much as possible), TC always talks like he's pitching you on a hot stock idea. Enthusiastic is the only gear he runs in.



The last time I spoke to TC, I asked how things were going with the hamburger franchise he'd recently started (another case of our difference right there. I no longer eat meat, and in any case could no more run a hamburger business than I could pilot the Space Shuttle).



"Things are going pretty good with that," he said. "I'm at the store right now picking up another high-definition TV for the new office."



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