the man read. “I will therefore be calling you Shema. If you don’t like that, well- that doesn’t really matter,” he declared.
“What does that even mean-”
“Some to know, Few to find out,” he echoed in reply. “Oh, while I’m thinking of it…” He again got up and pulled another scroll of similar appearance- though much older looking- out of one of the drawers underneath the collection of bottles. He grabbed a cloth Messenger satchel from the tabletop and dumped it of it’s contents; then tossing the scroll in my direction- of which I missed catching and it hit me in the face with an ironic thump.
“ha! There’s your sign!” he exclaimed in amusement. “I’m giving you that, but give me your word that you won’t open it until you get to where you are going,” he said with an abruptly stern face.
“How can I open it when I get there if I don’t know where I’m going?” I prompted.
“You’ll know when you get there, of course.” he replied, matter-of-factly. “You hear little bits of this and that in the Winds, you meet him, her, It here or there- you piece it together and you’ll figure it out. Who knows, perchance you’ll even figure out what you actually want somewhere along the way- I’d guess you’ve no idea anymore, eh? But you won’t divert my attentions to this detail-you must swear it,” again solemn.
“My yes is my yes,”I replied quietly.
“Good, you learn quickly.”
“I’m in awe of how helpful this is.” I returned the humor, dryly.
“Well, luckily I’m in a particularly favorable mood today, because I can feel the rain is coming again soon here, so I’m going to show you what you want…and what you need, and what you think you want and need.” He reached for the floorboards under the red table, removed a few, and dug around in the sand for a minute before producing a flat, rectangular, tin box. “if you still don’t trust me enough at this point that the meat wasn’t poisoned, you’ll have difficulty with this next one, but I’m accustomed to opposition-but it’s a good thing to still encounter now and then…” He set the box down in front of me- of which occupied a decent amount of the minuscule table’s face, and flipped the lid to reveal 40 divided sections, each filled with what resembled miniature cranberries of all varying color; blends, shimmer, or even phosphorescence. There were tags in each division, so small I had to lean in and squint to read them. They read: Purpose, Numbness, fulfillment, Business, Apathy, Love, Sense, Accomplishment, Separation, Validation, Peace, Beauty, Expectation, Illusion and countless others of the like.
“These are what most of them come for, everyone wants one more than another, for whatever their own reasons are- All parts of life, part of the unquestionably, cyclical institutions we all come to know. But all of these are merely temporary illusions to make you feel whatever it provides for the time it lasts; and I’ll tell you, all my years of study have never permitted the knowledge of how to extend their effects. At first it seemed like a profitable way for a man to make a living, but after enough years it grew from mildly bothering me in some way, to deeply disturbing me some days- but I admit that despite all this, I have often used them myself. The Work, the Wait, the Journey- to me seemed to unfailingly take more than I could ever procure for all the effort. Now I know this sounds selfish, but I am just a man as well- one who knows and has seen the order of things, and this is what I’ve become proficient at: helping people feel a just a little bit better, for just a little bit of time.
People find themselves wherever they always do. They wander- some longer than others- but many find it too lonely, too “absurd”, too unbearably tiring, or they simply cannot stand the anxiety of never knowing what– good and bad, though increasingly most often the latter in these times. Many start to seek out Routine, Security, Worthiness, Acceptance-” he pointed at a few more of the sections.”Love is always the most ‘popular’, the most sought-after, and consequently misunderstood of the lot; with Validation and and Security following closely behind. So many running around, looking for “the one”, but how many ask me how to become “the one”? Few, too few…”
Sensing that his tangent was of experiential importance to him, or that perhaps he didn’t often get visitors who cared to listen- I did not interrupt his disquisition, though I had often thought the same things to myself.
“but we’re all ‘one’-some closer in resemblance or proximity than others-but I assure you that this rock…”he plucked a small white stone off the top of one of the candles and held it in his palm- was once water and the water once a rock. They both tend toward lower ground, as streams find their way to the ocean but are never emptied- different characters and the same story. But until then, on we go looking for a proverbial drop in the ocean. Love very well may be in the many, many things and places everyday unseen or overlooked. It’s simply not always so obviously over saturated in the name of self-interest…” he paused in a barely perceivable change of expression, as if he had suddenly lost his fervor for the subject.
“Well, luckily I’ve got six different kinds of Love formulations here- ” with restored animation-“I can thank the Greeks for that idea- so that I rarely run out of that one.
“but why bother at all?” I queried,”I mean to waste your time here with a bunch of luna-eh…people, all for that’s nearly equivocequal to nothing?”