On Dancing Eggs and Enlightenment
(November 2, 2004; it is a sequel to this, and clearly doesn't live up to its predecessor due to its cut-and-dry ending, but that's fine by me)
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Enlightenment: An egg. Inside the egg is a feeling; outside the egg is Reason.
Reason's feet drummed against the ground as it danced. The warmth of the sun, combined with the friction of its movements, caused some of the snow to melt, turning it to slush and causing the dancer to slip. It pressed on undeterred, its dreams helping to guide its steps and lessen the pain of twisting ankles. The new Reason who preached sublimation and emptiness passed Reason on its travels, its look filled with vague pity, but this happened only once. Another Reason would later report that it had turned to snow one day; a cluster of Reasons strayed from their eggs to examine its new form, but the chill of its remains quickly drove them away. Hearing this, Reason would glance at the sky and wrap its arms more tightly around its egg.
Each day, the Reason conducted itself in the same way: waking up to the radiant warmth of the egg pressed against its back - or, sometimes, its stomach, if it had rolled to embrace the curve of the shell while asleep - and drawing itself back into the dance. It twirled and dove, strained and relaxed, lifting its hands away from the promise of the egg only to wave at another Reason or to scoop up a fistful of snow in order to remind itself of the cold. It no longer perceived the chill as an all-pervasive force, as the icicle-bound and shivering Reasons around it so clearly did, but the weather had not vanished, for all it banished it from its consciousness with its hope. Occasionally, it glanced down at its bare feet and saw that its toes were the same dusky blue as the sky, and it knew that its intricate patterns were much the same as New Reason's insistent denial. Eventually I will freeze, it thought, as kinetics alone do not change the atmosphere.
Gradually, the Reason began to slow. Its feet were growing permanently numb, and the layer of frost on its legs seemed to thicken by the day; eventually, the snow under its steps was completely unchanged when it stopped for its night's rest, barely showing the imprint of its thousand footfalls. How can this not be enough? it wondered. I have spun innumerable dances around you and beneath the sky and above the earth, and still the cold is eating me. But it knew the answer, even as it asked the question: Reason had been sustained by the mere idea of the feeling inside the egg, but in doing so it had stopped trying to reach it.
For the first time in a long time, the Reason ceased its steps before exhaustion set in, collapsing before the egg as it had in the nearly-forgotten time before the dance. Its fingers traced the fissures in the shell, nails digging in enough to deepen the tracks but their owner knowing too much to allow itself to open them entirely, and a few tears froze themselves to its face. Desperation and apathy warred inside its head - it would be so easy to give up after so much devotion, surprisingly easy, since devotion without result is more crushing than anything else. The Reason pressed its face to the shell and wept-
hold on just a minute it's not all cold out there or all hot in here there's hope yet maybe I do want out maybe it's all too safe here maybe warmth is better than heat maybe now that the earthquakes have stopped it's safe-
Reason drew back in shock as, for the first time it could remember, the egg moved of its own accord. It shook and rocked, its scars widening and brightening as what rested inside grew less restful. The heat became steadily more intense, changing the snow to water which pooled about Reason's ankles as grass - initially browned and dead, but with streaks of green spreading up the lengths of the blades from below - was revealed in a rapidly-expanding circle. Then, anticlimatically, the shell simply vanished, and Emotion sat before Reason, unfurling from its fetal position to look it in the eye.
I've been wondering what was out here for my entire life, said Emotion. But every time I tried to break through, the curves of the world burned my hands and I was afraid. Once I shattered it all, but there was nothing outside but darkness, and when I awoke I had scorched myself terribly. It paused, then grinned. But that is neither here nor there now, is it? All it took was a balance.
Reason considered this, and agreed that it was so. It also saw that Emotion's eyes were as red as its own; reaching out, it brushed its finger across the other's cheek, and found that its tears were as chilled as Reason's were hot. After a moment, it realized that although the radiant heat of the egg was missing, the ground they sat on was snow-free and alive. The air, too, was balanced, so much so that he could feel no temperature in it at all. Sitting there, it found comfort - and not the comfort of emotionlessness or of denial, either! it thought to itself - and without making a conscious decision, it wrapped one arm around Emotion's shoulders. They drew closer together, not quite cancelling each other out: Reason still felt the tingle of Emotion's warmth, spreading through it and returning the blood to its deadened toes. Emotion, for its part, felt a slight twingle from the ice that still surrounded Reason's world, which helped to soothe its lingering burns.
Synergy, after all, is not nihilism, and nihilism is certainly not synergy. Threading their fingers together and rising to their feet, the two began to dance - still seeking and still questioning, but doing so in tandem rather than opposition.
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