I wrote a short story/dialogue that some of you might find philosophically entertaining and perhaps relatable. There is swearing in it, so be forewarned.
An Encounter With The Wordless Name
Bill and Lance are walking down a country road one afternoon. Neither of them are talking very much, content to walk in silence. There is a slight breeze in the air, which occasionally shuffles up and moves around the fallen leaves. They have been friends since childhood, though they are now both in their early twenties. Birds are chirping quietly.
Bill: ".......This life sucks, man. Nothing ever changes."
Lance: "What do you mean? Every day brings something new. For all we know, we could be right on the brink of some kind of amazing adventure this very minute!"
Bill: "Yeah, I guess you're right. Still though, I can't help but feel that there's something missing from my life. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. Do you get that?"
Lance: "I think I do."
Bill: "I just feel like I'd be so much happier if I were a character in a movie. They always seem to have a clear goal, and that provides them with motivation. I can't even count how many times I've walked down this same road.......sometimes I imagine killing myself, just so that I can think about whether anyone would even miss my presence. No one that I know is very happy, but they don't want or need any saving either. We're all just here, going about our daily routines. There's gotta be something better than this."
Lance: "I'm afraid I haven't got any answers for you, man. I try to keep moving forward, so that I never get stuck in that kind of thinking for too long. No matter how bleak things can seem sometimes, there are always people who care about us, and who are rooting for us. It might suck not knowing specifically what your purpose in life is, but the fact that you exist means that you must have one. At least, that's what I believe."
A silence ensues. A train blows it's horn somewhere in the distance. Bill and Lance stop to sit in the shade of a maple tree.
Bill: "Do you remember that girl Kristen, from high school? The one that was in our sociology class."
Lance: "Yeah, I do."
Bill: "I used to have such a huge crush on her. I guess technically I still do. Not just because she was good looking, either, even though she was. There was a deeper beauty that I saw in her, and I think it was because of her innocence. She never acted slutty, and she never begged for attention. She was just a nice girl."
Lance: "You know, I heard she's engaged to her boyfriend."
Bill: "Yeah, I heard that too."
Lance looks over at his friend and sees a look in his eyes that is not sadness. It's a look that refuses to be sad. Lance decides to change the subject.
Lance: "Do you ever get the feeling that someone or something is watching you, even when there's no one else around?"
Bill: "Yeah, I've been getting that ever since I was a little kid. It used to give me the creeps, but now I just sort of laugh at it. Why do you ask?"
Lance: "I'm not sure. I guess I just believe that there's a lot more to this world than meets the eyes."
Bill: "Yeah, I definitely agree with you there. I'd like you to expand on that if you can, but do you want to start walking back, while we talk?"
Lance: "Sure, sounds good."
Just as they get up, a flock of geese appears overheard, honking loudly.
Bill: "So have you got any theories about what life is really all about?"
Lance: "Not really. But consider this: All of the sciences and mathematics that we were taught in school, including things like psychology and sociology, are subject to change. Everyone knows that we're discovering new things all the time, so theories are always being discarded and re-written. And yet, in casual or even serious discussion, most people accept whatever the current theory is as gospel. Especially if you're talking to someone like a scientist or a college professor. That makes me think that the so called "experts" don't have any more of a clue than you or I."
Bill: "So, what the fuck then, man? No one knows anything about what's really happening? I refuse to believe that. What about all those zen masters out there? Do you really believe that all of those stories we've heard about enlightenment and transcendance are bullshit? No way, man, no way."
Just then, a strong wind comes through, temporarily stopping Bill and Lance in their tracks.
Lance: "I honestly don't know, man.......I'm not saying that no one has access to the truth, but it's definitely not the people who get passed off as authority figures. Maybe anyone who truly figures shit out just keeps quiet about it for some reason."
Bill: "Yeah, well that's not doing me a whole lot of good, is it? Keeping their mouths shut while the whole world suffers in ignorance? People are being raped every fucking day, man, people are killing themselves, killing each other, waging war! We're cutting down all the fucking trees, and we're making breakfast, lunch and dinner out of the animals. And for what? Because we can't figure out anything better to do?"
With tension rising to a peak, Lance decides to say nothing and just walk on in silence. After a few minutes, Bill speaks up again.
Bill: "Maybe I SHOULD kill myself. It's not as if I'd miss out on anything great. Working for some shitty company for forty years in misery, with no one to talk to about anything other than the weather and meaningless gossip. Lah-dee-fucking-dah. Do you know, man, that I don't have a single female friend? Not one! The extent of my female companionship is my family members. Why the hell SHOULDN'T I kill myself?"
Lance: "Why don't you? Sounds to me like it's on your mind an awful lot."
Bill: "I guess I'm just too big of a pussy."
A hawk lets out a scream, somewhere in the distance.
Unbeknownst to either Bill or Lance, something timeless and infinitely wise is aware of them. It had been watching them, and silently guiding them their entire lives. On this particular night, it decides to begin a process that cannot be undone. Of course, being infinite and eternal, it has no worry for a detail like that.
After another long silence, Lance speaks up.
Lance: "Bill, man, have I ever told you how awesome you are?"
Bill: "Shut up, man......."
Lance: "No, I'm serious. You're easily one of the coolest people I know. You've got a strong heart, and a great sense of integrity about you. This might sound kind of depressing, but I'd bet my life that there's a really nice girl out there somewhere, who's dreaming about meeting a guy like you, maybe even believing that they don't really exist. Maybe I don't know the exact, precise meaning of your life, but I know that you've made my life a whole lot more fun than it would've been otherwise."
Bill: ".......Thanks for the pep talk, man. I sure as hell hope you're right about that girl."
Lance: "Of course I'm right. It just makes good sense, doesn't it?"
Bill: "Technically, yeah, it does, but the world seems to have a cruel sense of humour."
Just then, another strong gust of wind comes through, blowing Bill and Lance off balance.
Lance: "Sure it does Bill. I'd be a fool to disagree with you there. Try to keep your chin up though. I know that that can be the hardest thing in the world to do sometimes, but it helps to keep your thoughts from becoming toxic. This may sound cheesy, but there's not a problem in the world that can phase you, if you've got a clear mind. Now THAT is the god's honest truth."
Bill: "When then hell did you become so insightful?"
Lance carries an innocent smile, but does not reply.
Bill: "Hey man, do you want to sit down by this stream for a bit?"
The two friends sit for a while in silence, sometimes thinking, sometimes listening to the trickle of the stream, the chirping of crickets and birds, the breezing wind, and the occasional plane flying overhead.
Bill: "I know we just went over the whole power of positive thinking thing, but I've gotta say; sometimes life feels like a nightmare that I just can't seem to wake up from, no matter what I do. Sometimes the fear hits me so hard that I just wanna run away and never turn back, only there's nowhere to run to. I feel like a stranger in my own skin, and it's like one of those dreams where you try to scream, but no sound comes out. Like I'm trying to escape from some horror, but I just can't seem to get any traction."
Lance clears his throat before speaking.
Lance: "Actually, I know exactly what you're talking about. Listen, man, our society has a very big misconception about transcendance, or, in other words, how to overcome a problem. Like when people talk about someone like Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a. "the buddha") transcending, the story seems to go that he escaped from the world and it's problems, as if that was his reward for good behaviour or something. Well, the truth is that to transcend is to stay within the problematic situation, and somehow create a novel solution for it. The only way to TRULY escape your nightmare is to delve further into it, and find out what's making it so. It's like Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged; if your circumstances don't make sense, re-examine them. I'm not saying that it's going to be easy either; certainly it won't be. But in this situation, truly the only way out is in."
While Lance is talking, a cat wanders behind the two of them. Just after Lance finishes speaking, Bill turns with a jerk, having subconsciously sensed the cat's energy so close, and upon noticing it lets out a surprised scream. Bill's scream causes both the cat and Lance to scream, and the cat takes off into the newly set darkness, which neither of the two has noticed up until now. The cat incident sends them both into hysterical laughing fits, which last for a few minutes. Wiping tears from his eyes, Bill picks up the conversation.
Bill: "Holy shit, man, I can't believe that cat snuck up on us during your big speech like that! What a weird coincidence!"
Lance looks over at Bill with a knowing look in his eyes.
Lance: "That's not the first coincidence like that that I've noticed all night either. The gusts of wind, the bird calls, the train whistle......."
Bill: "You know, in my grade 9 english class we learned about something like that in literature."
Bill: "Yeah, it was called "Pathetic Fallacy", and it was defined as "when nature is in tune with man's emotional state". After tonight, it sure doesn't seem like much of a fallacy to me."
Bill and Lance shortly get up and walk home, each of them having a lot to think about.
Without them knowing it, something had fueled their innocent conversation with the spark of divinity, the consequences of which would be profound and far-reaching. For now however, that same something is turning its attention elsewhere.
You see, I, the writer, have an intuition that some who are reading this may be forming an opinion that Bill and Lance have a bit of an unfair friendship, what with Bill seeming mainly depressed and angry, and Lance having many keen insights and a positive attitude. It has been put into my mind to tell you that in actuality, they are playing equal roles, in the bigger picture.
By giving Lance someone to uplift, Bill is allowing Lance to reiterate what he already knew in a fresh situation, adding new depth to his knowledge. Helping his friend in a meaningful way also helps Lance to feel valuable, and silences the voice in his head, which for many days prior to this walk had been questioning the validity of his positive attitude in such a bleak and unresponsive world.
There's a reason why some say that variety is the spice of life.
Last edited by erikmclennan on Thu May 20, 2010 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.