Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

The non.  §

You lose your bearings. Catastrophically.

That’s what happens in situations like this.

— § —

The world starts out fairly simple. Sea, sky. Rocks, trees. North, south, east, west. These are the things of being.

And then—and then it all goes wrong.

You touch a rock and it’s wet and indistinct. You try to jump into the sea; it’s hard and jagged and you harm yourself in the attempt, then find yourself sitting on top of it. You look up and see trees from the zenith to the horizon.

Or at least, for a moment you do.

And then, then there are apologies. The rock apologizes for being the sea. The sea apologizes for being hard as rock. The trees apologize for being the sky; they descend and settle.

— § —

Only now, now—you’re not sure how to interact with these things.

“Jump in and swim!” says the sea. You try it. It is cool and wonderful. You swim and swim. You break for lunch. You come back. You jump again, unthinking—and are soon bloody and scraped, laying on top of its hard, jagged surface again. “What were you thinking?” it asks.

“Sorry,” you say, “I forgot that you’re hard and jagged.”

“That’s because you don’t know me,” it says, “and don’t care to know me. Never try that again.”

You have similar interactions with the rocks and the trees. Sometimes, they are one thing. Sometimes another.

At length, you learn not to take any of them for granted. You stop trying to swim, you stop touching rock, you stop expecting the sky to be the sky and the trees to be the trees. You focus on the things that are predictable, and on the things in life that you can control. These things, they are dangerous.

— § —

And then, at length, they begin to howl at you.

“You don’t care for us any longer! You don’t appreciate us in the least! Here we are for you, and you ignore and avoid us!”

Their wailing haunts you. It is insufferable. Incessant. You don’t know what to do.

And so you ask.

“Sea, I remember that I swam in you once or twice, and it was cool and good. But without warning, on some days you were hard and jagged, and I bled and hurt. Which are you right now? Perhaps if you told me, I could swim sometimes?”

The sea is furious!

“You don’t trust me! You don’t trust any of us! You have never cared enough to know us!”

The sea rises up in a tsunami and descends upon you. As it falls, it falls as hard and jagged. The rocks begin to fly toward you, to pelt you in their indignation and rage. As they hit you, they are wet. In their collective fury the soft, wet rocks submerge you. You try to swim, but you begin to suffocate, even as the sea continues to rain down in jagged shards. The trees blot out the sunlight and leave you in darkness, assuring you that you deserve it for failing to honor the beauty and uniqueness of life and creation, which they reflect.

— § —

The darkness comes and goes forever, and you are never sure whether it is the trees’ whim to blot out the sky or simple day and night; you lose the ability to distinguish between the two, and you fear the trees’ reaction if you misattribute these effects, so you don’t speak of them. You simply try to live. You are tentative. You want to swim, to walk, to touch, to see. You cannot, however, be sure that the things are what they seem to be.

And often, in the darkness that envelops you from time to time, you are not even sure that these things are there. Sometimes you imagine that they are, but you can’t be sure and you can’t find them. Sometimes you’re sure that they aren’t. Sometimes you blindly find the sea and manage to swim in it, full of fear as you jump in. Sometimes you blindly find the sea and, instead of falling into it, break bones on its hard surface as you trustingly dive.

And then, minutes later, you are sure that it is gone again, though somewhere far, far away, you are sure that you hear its anguished howls, the sound of deep, eternal pain, of your betrayal and indeed everyone’s pitiless betrayal of its mercurial nature, caught in wisps and carried on the wind. You search, but you can’t find it. And you continue to search knowing that when you do, you will either swim in its soft, cool waves or be shattered once again on its unapologetic, immovable angles.

This searching, it is fraught. But it is—apparently—your destiny.

— § —

You never find a way to resolve the difficulties. You feel guilt and longing forever.

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