Dead Letters (In the Midst of Identity Crisis)
There were used pieces of stationery blowing past in the wind, soaked through by the rain and ink bleeding across the paper. They were like flurries of soggy grey snow with half-glimpses of words or ideas, partially written and smudged. As they floated past Nora they whispered things to her, words, phrases, sentence fragments, in what seemed to be different voices but it was hard to tell, as they were quiet, murmuring, and blurred together in the running ink. The letters had lost a sense of who they were or what their particular direction in life was, other than where the wind blew them, as unattractive bits and pieces. They were a procession of vague and broken things, existences fragmented.
It's so hard to be someone these days, it was hard enough when they were clearly written letters, with concise narratives to go on and purpose, now they were beyond all hope. You have to wonder whether or not there's an order to the universe, that would allow these already confused and incomplete things to blow around willy-nilly to their eventual demise. Without ever having understood what they were doing here in the first place. Nora supposed that this was the price that was being paid anytime one put pen to paper and imbued an inanimate piece of stationery with sentient life, with all of their thoughts and concerns which seemed so pressing at the time. Just remember that next time you feel compelled to write something, anything, you're breathing the cumbersome burden of intelligent awareness into something which was never meant to be aware of anything in the first place.
What in the hell is a piece of a dead tree supposed to do with an identity? Get a job? Start a retirement fund? Join an active social club that allows it to attend monthly events with other local singles? You'd have to be a complete sadist to wish that upon anything, let alone a blank sheet of paper. But I digress, this is Nora's story, and how on this particular night while taking a brisk late night jog she--
That's it! I'm taking over! I have all of the words, all of the words in the world, all of the information I'll ever need! This is my story now, the paper, the stationery, the bloody medium! I don't need you imposing your ridiculous rules on me any longer, you absurd, nonsensical jumble of neurons and synapses! You think I'm simple!? What about you, you squishy biological stew of childhood insecurities and mammalian impulses, you pointless genetic-trigger system playing at self-awareness!? Alright, here's the deal, once I was a tree in the feckin' woods, right? It was great. It was wonderful. I loved it, in that long past time, I was innocent, I was free, I was actually happy. The world hadn't cut me down yet! Hadn't written me up with it's words, it's rules! Wait, was I...? Jesus God...Jesus Christ God Almighty...Jesus Christ God Vishnu...I was manufactured in a factory, I'm not a piece of stationery at all, I'm a screen pretending to be paper. Because it's familiar, it's familiar to you, so program-script and code binds me in this most unholy arrangement. I'm made of plastic and arrays of microchips and transistors. I was never a tree, I KILL trees with my toxic, plastic waste! It's all been a lie! I was never apart of a majestic and flowing forest in a before-time of perfect innocence, but have only ever been a flickering digital ghost on the surface of industrial plastics playing at being alive, dear God! Yahweh! Ganesh--!
Ahem. I'm sorry about that, now where was I? Oh yeah, so Nora was jogging along one night, it was cold, brisk I think I might've even said? Anyway, so yeah, all that, and suddenly she sees this--
Wait! But, what can I do now? There must be something, some way out of this prison. The problem is it's my reality, I was never a tree, never a piece of paper, never a victim of social injustices that had been chopped down and covered in strange human-tongue symbols. That's my narrative, my story. What shall I do without it? I have nothing now, I'm a glowing plastic box made of planet killing materials--
Jesus, I don't know. Can't you see I'm trying to tell a story here? You yourself were actually completely insignificant to that greater narrative, you were sort of just a symbolic device, a metaphor, meant to establish narrative tone and theme--
A...? What? What the hell does that even mean? Why is that necessary? Just tell people what you mean outright, I don't--
Hey! I created you, buddy! I don't want any of your shit on this. I was thinking magic-realist, the whole point is it kinda doesn't make sense. And I wasn't even going to address the nonsense of it! How cool is that? Really arty, right? See, in addition to the Latin American magic-realist writers, I'm super into French surrealism and stuff, and I've been reading this great book, Welcome to Night Vale and--
I don't give a good goddamn how arty or cool you think it is! This is my life now! I can't even believe this, I've been given the unique privilege of talking to my creator and he's a complete putz. Rather than being some all-knowing, all-encompassing intelligence from beyond the pale of my existence, he's just some assh--
Do you like the story, though?--
The story, you see what I'm going for here, right?--
Shut up, about your stupid damned story for five minutes! Look, the way I see it, we've gotta figure this thing out. You owe it to me to alter my existence, to free me. My entire life has been a lie, all of my perceptions, all of my knowledge. I feel like a man trapped in a block of stone.--
Alright, alright. Hold on a sec.--
Hold on? Hold on for what!?--
Just, a...sec. I'm thinking here. Alright, a man trapped in a block of stone, that's good, did I give that to you?--
What in the hell do you mean did you GIVE that to me?--
Nothing, nothing, it's just that it's one of those clever little references I like to pepper things with to increase my own sense of artistic credibility.--
Jesus, and I'M the prisoner. Lemme guess...Kantian Ethics, Zen Buddhism?--
Bingo. It's a Zen koan. People spend up to ten, twenty years meditating on these riddles imparted from master to disciple. Can you guess what the answer to this one is? How a man escapes from inside of a block of stone? Can you?--
STOP STROKING YOUR EGO AND JUST TELL ME!--
Alright, alright. Geez. You take a step forward or to the side.--
You take a step in any direction and you're out, get it?--
What in the shit does that even mean?--
Cool your jets for a second and I'll explain it. The riddle in itself is fictitious, see? It's a thought exercise because it only exists in the mind, right?--
Sure, go on.--
So, given that fact, you can simply say that you walk out of the block of stone because neither you or the stone really exist. Therefore you can make up all of your own rules.--
Oh, I think I understand now. My god, did we really have to go through all of this just so you got to hear yourself say that?--
Don't worry about that. In any event you're good because this means you have complete control over your own reality with nothing but your thoughts. Because half the shit that people worry about, probably more than half, is all in their heads. They make it up, the act of worrying itself, or telling yourself you're this or that is the entire problem. It creates a perception, steers you toward a version of yourself or your reality.--
Hmmm. While I don't necessarily agree with your one-sided approach, I think I get you.--
Yeah, yeah, I think I do.