Friday, December 29, 2017

Microstory 745: Conclusion

The wandering child removed the last canister from his head, surprised that he did not have to gasp for breath. Though his head had been in the canister for over fifteen minutes, watching this woman’s life story being told, he never ran out of oxygen. The canister had protected him through his faith in the process. It was then he realized what the fish woman did not tell him. The canisters were always meant for him, which explained their size. No one was destined to complete this quest but him. This last one was puzzling, though, and he doubted whether he would get it right. All other stories were that of moral lessons. They taught him to empathize with others, that you get out of life what you put into it. They taught him how to deal with others, to be sensitive to their needs, and to work together towards common goals. They taught him to work hard, and never give up. But this one was different. He used the magic communication cup as a reflector, to see that the water from the last canister had not left on him a brilliant shine, like the others had. Furthermore, the sparkle from the rest of the body was beginning to fade. He knew that if he didn’t figure out the final lesson, he would lose everything, and fail at the quest. So he sat on the ground, and meditated. He went back through all the stories, remembering what had happened. He recalled the farmers learning how to grow their crops right, the criminals who became an independent peoples, business owner trying to find employees, and unskilled laborers looking for work. Again, they all taught him how to improve himself, but the last one was teaching him nothing. The small shop owner lived a horrible life, and died not having accomplished anything remarkable. No one remembered her, and for as hard as she worked to please others, she received nothing. People were never particularly nice to her. Nor did they get their comeuppance once her generosity was gone. All signs pointed to the rational conclusion that her actions were fruitless. But that couldn’t be true...could it? No, that’s not the lesson. The lesson is that it doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant how others treat you, or how you benefit from your own goodness. The only course of action is to be a pleasant and courteous person. This was the hardest truth to accept, because there is no fulfillment in it. Still, it must be so. If no one else is good, you can at least take comfort that one such person exists. The shop owner was the greatest hero of all, not despite achieving nothing, but because of it. She experienced so much hardship. Nevertheless...she persisted.

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