the man read. “I will be calling you Shema, then. 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 fetched a scroll of similar appearance- though much larger and older looking- from one of the drawers beneath the collection of bottles. He grabbed a cloth Messenger satchel from another table,dumped it of its contents, threw it onto the red table, and then tossed the scroll to me- of which I missed and hit me in the face with an ironic thump.
“Ha! There’s your sign!” he chimed, amusedly.
“I’m giving you this, 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 air.
“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, or It here and there- you piece it together and you’ll figure it out. Who knows, perchance you’ll even figure out what you really want somewhere along the way- I’d guess you’ve no idea anymore, eh? But you won’t be changing the subject, don’t open it until then- swear it,” he repeated.
“My yes is my yes,” I replied quietly.
“Good, you learn fast.”
“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, what you think you want, and what you need to see.” He reached to the floorboards under the red table, removed a couple of them, 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- though it’s always a refreshing 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 colors; 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, Contentment, Beauty, Business, Apathy, Love, Sense, Accomplishment, Worthiness, Separation, Validation, Peace, Illusion and countless others of the like.
“These are what most of them come for-” he began, “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 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, Surety, 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 Security following closely behind. He laughed. So very many, running around looking for “The One”, but how many ask me how to become the one? Few, too few. Ah, the proverbial drop in the ocean we all instinctively flow back to- But I think love may very well be in a great many of the places that are everyday overlooked or unseen. It’s simply not always so obviously over saturated in the name of self-interest…” He stopped, with a barely perceivable change in his countenance, as if he had suddenly lost his fervor for discussing the subject.
“Well,” with returned animation,”Luckily I’ve got six different kinds of Love formulations- I thank the Greeks for the idea- so I never run out of that one.”
“But why even bother wasting your time here with these luna- eh… people? And all for what’s nearly equivocal to nothing?” I had long ago lost my faith in the establishment of helping the human condition, having settled into finding most charitable efforts fruitless- especially in personally accepting them.