209: Kayak

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Man, there's future *everywhere*.
Title text: Man, there's future *everywhere*.


This comic deals with two linked themes, which both come under the umbrella of existentialism, a branch of philosophy.

Beret Guy invites Cueball to join him in a two-seat kayak trip. However, Cueball is confused by his intention.

Beret Guy initially words his invitation to Cueball as "come explore the future." However, this confuses Cueball, as he believes that Beret Guy's kayak can travel through time in a science fiction sense. In reality, Beret Guy is being more literal: after all, as the title-text emphasizes, "there's future everywhere;" everything is "traveling through time" simply by existing, as time is just another dimension. Beret Guy's comments show that he perceives all of life as an adventure, and just as exciting as time travel; his eagerness to "explore" it shows that he takes delight in the unpredictability of life. In this way, the comic criticizes people who become depressed with the lack of control they have over their future: Beret Guy suggests that, rather than continuously worrying, we should enjoy the thrill of the unknown.

Cueball asks Beret Guy why he wishes for a kayak trip, as there is no intrinsic purpose or logic behind this action. However, Beret Guy claims that, in fact, nothing has any intrinsic purpose in the long run, and thus there is no reason not to go on a kayak trip. In this case, if a kayak trip is likely to make you happy, it is the right thing to do. In this way, the comic could be seen as criticizing those who do not take advantage of life's opportunities.

Beret Guy's comments reference existentialism, which is a branch of philosophy that states that there is no intrinsic purpose or meaning to anything in life, as nothing will influence our eventual fate - death. It also states that there is no way of predicting what will happen to us, and that the future is always unknown. The solution is therefore to find one's own purpose in life, and make the most of life's opportunities while they are still available.

The title text may be a reference to the Calvin and Hobbes collection book "There's treasure everywhere!"

Making the most of life, and rationalizing the familiar, has also been explored in these comics:


[Beret Guy, in a kayak holding a paddle, is talking to Cueball, standing on a pier.]
Beret Guy: Come explore the future with me!
Cueball: Huh? What's that you're in?
[Close up on Beret Guy and his kayak. The tip of the pier can be seen.]
Beret Guy: A two seat kayak!
Cueball: I see, but why do you have it?
[Close up on Cueball. The tip of the kayak and the tip of the paddle can be seen. Beret Guy and the waterline cannot be seen.]
Beret Guy: We'll find out! The future is a big place!
Cueball: So the kayak travels through time?
[Slightly zoomed-out version of the third panel. The tip of the paddle has disappeared but the waterline is visible again.]
Beret Guy: Sure! Just like everything else! It also goes over water. Come on!

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I have successfully invented a police box that travels through time. All I need is a way to change the travel speed from the default 60-second-per-minute and we'd have an operational TARDIS! 05:57, 27 January 2014 (UTC) Is the title text a reference to Calvin and Hobbes? "There's treasure everywhere!" -- 19:47, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

The sentence in the third paragraph which begins with the word "However" is reading into the original comic something which is not actually in the original comic. It is probably true that Randall wanted the reader to think that Beret Guy in panel one was implying that the kayak could "travel through time in a science fiction sense" but there is nothing in the comic to suggest that Cueball thinks that the kayak "can travel through time in a science fiction sense."

I have a time machine but it only travels at a rate of one second per second and it can't go back in time.

xkcd Volume 0 (book)[edit]

below the strip, the book has



See also similar lettering above Parody Week: A Softer World on the same page, 11002. (talk) 23:10, 11 January 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)