Imagine a world where people place a high value on sneezing.
It is difficult to know exactly what it is about sneezing that would make it so special to them. Is it the sensation? The intensity? The way it makes us think about the fact that the generally accepted physical limits of our bodies are really always in a state of relative flux, like the surface of the sun occasionally erupting and in doing so revealing another part of the star’s true nature, the one that isn’t governed by gravity entirely?
Sneezing. It is a force of nature selectively made accessible to us humans. A nod to the boundary between controlling and being controlled. It is at the same time something we do and something done to us. The doer becomes an almost passive collaborator, a mere participant, in the act that uses them as a temporary host as it masterfully transforms their body into an environment suitable for the sneeze’s fleeting moment of self-expression.
The appreciation of sneezing would change the way people look at, and experience sneezing. There would be better sneezes and less good sneezes, unskilled sneezing and elevated sneezing.
Some people would be very good at it and sneeze publicly, famous sneezers that people would pay money to see. There would be long lines of people highly motivated to get just a little bit closer to experiencing the ideal of sneezing as it is symbolized and embodied by star sneezers. You can hear a little amateurish sneeze here and there as the fans get excited. It’s okay to dream.
Sneezing becomes a specialized skill. A specialized skill is not a skill that you can specialize in; it is a skill that specializes in you, if you are the right kind of person. Sneezing may or may not choose you. Humans are but vessels to be inhabited by the divine.
Sneezing in public becomes something for people to scoff at. “Come on, seriously? Either sneeze in private or sneeze properly.”
As the appreciation of sneezing transforms it into something elevated, it increasingly removes it from its origin. A common sneeze is devalued. Sneezing just isn’t for everybody. It’s okay if you aren’t a good sneezer. Be satisfied with who you are. Find something different to do with your life.
Alone in the quietness of their home, far away from anyone who might observe and judge them, an ambitious person sits in front of a bright light, their eyes almost but not quite closed, their mind and body focused patiently on receiving a sneeze.