Saturday, April 2, 2016

To Pass the Endless Days

By the skylight in the temple,
we may safely see that night has fallen.
Now I must endeavor to go back to the days prior, before I got lost in the mountains and the swamp. I've picked up in the middle of my desperate flight... but now I will try to bridge the gap between where my narrative dropped off so long ago and where I find myself.

I have the luxury, for a while, to pause and attempt to recall that passage, now that I've commandeered (for the time being) this little shack in the swamp. Back to the wall, torches blazing, sword at the ready, very cautiously do I now take up quill and review the last entries to resume.

After my revelation and ensuing breakdown, I took some time out to recuperate. This was a time of relative equilibrium, I feel, during which I could return to the fundamentals. Whenever life becomes burdensome and complex, I always find it restorative to whip out my philosophic razor and pare my existence down to the basic structure.

What do I require? Food and water, and physical security in shelter and a stable environment (free of those nightly horrors so oppressively common to every continent and island).

The author cannot believe cabbages don't exist in this world.
I certainly have food and water: there was a grand and clear gulf of water one minute's stroll from the desert temple where I was lodged. Salt water, brackish or fresh, I knew not and cared not. I could drink it and I could irrigate my garden with it. Aside from amusing myself with its unlikely physical properties (that it could spring from solid rock, that a waterfall could be climbed as easily as a rope), I cared very little about its particulars.

Related to this, of course, was my modest garden with the staples of wheat, carrots and potatoes. These were coming along nicely: indeed, I came to believe that as long as they bedded in soil and lay within 20 meters of water, there was very little I could intentionally work upon them to kill or compromise their growth. This certainly is a small mercy for which I daily am grateful. When I require a small indulgence, I may split a sugar cane, which grows most eagerly along any sandy bank.

The wheat converts effortlessly into a nourishing bread, carrots may be eaten raw, the potatoes expeditiously bake into a portable repast, and these may be combined with rabbit meat and mushrooms for a wholly satisfying stew. Mushrooms also make a stew, of course, but the rabbit stew truly sustains the striving corpore through mining and battle, like little else will.

Food and water are covered. As for shelter, I can build my own out of any trees in the region. I can build a small shack to protect my burrow-hole as I tunnel into the earth, many meters into which I might establish a respectable fortress. It is also my luxury to construct as grand a palace as I should care to have, requiring only time and resources, each of which I shore in abundant supply. My needs, however, are modest and minimal, so I only undertake to erect a fanciful structure not under the delusion that I merit such grandiose housing but purely as an artistic exercise.

Lastly, the stable environment: my martial prowess has, I hope I have sufficiently related, developed to an advanced stage. So long as I am not stupid, careless or greedy, it is extremely unlikely those beasts of nightmare may ambush or overwhelm me. Even in the worst-case scenario, to what limited extent I have been privy to, I perish but briefly and resume existence at the last location at which I have bedded. This may be an annoyance, should I have traveled far and met with disaster, but now that I have effected my transoceanic railway, it is a trivial annoyance.

Chestnut and Charlie: the author has given up on creativity.
Thusly my attention does turn to the trivial needs a sentient soul may discover. Companionship is so unlikely a possibility that I may rule it out in all practicality. I have stumbled upon villagers, to be sure, and learned something of their tongue, evolving our relationships beyond grinning like sick dogs and proffering each other portions of food in a nonbinding contract of amity.

There are the animals in my stable. I have named them, and I record their names without profound explanation. The chestnut-colored horse is named Chestnut, and somehow the sound of this compels me to refer to the donkey as Charlie. I don't know why and I won't stumble through sophistry to justify it. Chestnut and Charlie they are and shall be, and whenever I stand on the precipice of abysmal depression, I opted instead to take them out for a ride and trot about the countryside, either to explore new land or simply for the pleasure of a channel of communication, however limited, with another living being.

As for the rest of the time, I simply whiled away days and weeks in mining for resources: coal, iron, redstone, and—rarely—gold, emerald and diamond. There's plenty of work to be done in this respect, literal mountains to plunder, endless tectonic plates to plumb. When I dislike to think but to dull my body with exertion, a-mining I reliably go.

So may the thinking man exist without thought.

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