Curse these clumsy hoofs! said Blurtso. How am I ever going to play Für Elise? I don’t know, said Pablo, maybe you could play it on the trombone…
I can’t stop thinking about a jenny I saw at school yesterday. I saw her once, passing on the lawn, and I can’t get her out of my mind. I wonder who she is? I wonder if she’s a student? It’s exciting to think of her, but it’s tiresome, because there are so many other things to think of. But no matter what I do, all I can think of is her. And I don’t even know who she is. I’ve seen other jennies, here and there, and now and then, but none like her. I’m dying to keep thinking of her, but wish I could stop. I’ve been here all day, while the hours passed, with the birds and the trees and the shadows and sounds, and I haven’t seen a thing, not a single thing, because I can’t stop thinking of a jenny I saw once, and may never see again. It’s times like this that make me wonder… if any of us have control over anything we do.
Hmmm, thought Ditto, would you look at that… a leaf caught in the stream. Wavering on the water, pushed against a stone. It’s a dry leaf, yellow and crinkly. I wonder how long it will remain here, softly battering the stone? I wonder what will become of it when I’m gone? I wonder if it will miss me? I wonder if I will think of it at night when I’m home? I wonder if it will still be here, softly battering the stone?
That’s far enough, said Blurtso, drawing a line on the ground with the edge of his hoof. The sand was dry and sun-baked and he had to scrape the surface several times before the mark was visible. That’s far enough, he repeated, and the others remained on their side of the line. Blurtso remained on his side as well, looking up at the others then looking down at the ground. The sun that had baked the ground was hot and began to bake Blurtso and continued to bake the ground. One by one the others walked away. Then there was only Blurtso, the sun, and the ground…
Ooops, said Blurtso, as he let his hoof slip across the line he had drawn in the sand. Ooops, he said, as another hoof crossed, followed by his haunches, his rump, and his stumpy little tail. Ooops, he said, turning and sweeping the line with his boxing-glove nose, then stamping and stomping and tromping until there was no mark left at all. Very good, thought Blurtso, as he surveyed his work and considered his new-found freedom. Freedom? he thought, looking in the direction where the others had gone. Wait for me! he cried, scampering off to join them.
And the people gathered before him and said, “Blurtso of the sacred space, teach us.” And Blurtso replied, “Teach us?” And the people echoed, “Teach us.” And Blurtso replied, “Teach what?” And the people explained, “We do not love all who are among us. We do not love all others. And we are ashamed.” And Blurtso replied, “What will thou doest when thou seest a tempest in the offing?” And the people replied, “We shall seek shelter.” And Blurtso said, “And what will thou doest when thou encounterest danger in thine path?” And the people replied, “We shall pursue a new path.” And Blurtso said, “And what will thou doest when thine well of poison smellest?” And the people replied, “Drink we shall not.” And Blurtso said, “Just as with nature thou wouldst, so with one another thou shouldst. For each one of thou, in beingst thineself, is for some other a storm, a danger, or a poison. And another for thou shallst be these same things too. So feelest not ashamedst that thou revelst not in the company of all, but rather recognizest the right to existest of the poison, the danger, and the storm, and rejoicest in the natural wisdom that wouldst lead thou unto safety and keepest thou from harm.”
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Are you awake? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. What do you think about politics? said Blurtso. Politics? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, all the corruption, manipulation, and self-serving contentiousness. I don’t think politics is any different than anything else, said Harlan. What do you mean? said Blurtso. I mean that everyone, said Harlan, does what is in their own best interest. Everyone? said Blurtso. Sure, said Harlan. But some people, said Blurtso, are more compassionate than others. Yes, said Harlan, that’s because they define themselves differently. What do you mean? said Blurtso. Some people have a very small definition of themselves, said Harlan, they think of themselves as a narrow, individual entity, and they act in a narrow, individual way. Others think of themselves as a family group—immediate or extended—and act for the benefit of the family. Others think of themselves as an ideological group—a nation or religion—and act in terms of that ideology. Others go beyond borders, and think of themselves as the entire human race, or the entire planet, and act in the self interest of all humans, or of all nature. But everyone is still acting in their own self interest, it’s just that some selves are bigger than others. Hmm, thought Blurtso, I wonder how big my self is?
Harlan? said Blurtso. Yes? said Harlan. Are you awake? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. Have you ever thought about suicide? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. Why do you think people do it? I don’t know, said Harlan, I suppose we all need a reason, at least one pure activity to go on living. One activity? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. Like what? said Blurtso. Like anything, said Harlan, love is an activity.