I haven’t seen Lizzy since she was limping across the lawn. And that was two months ago. I wonder what happened to her? I wonder if she quit school, or graduated, or if she was only a tourist who was on campus for a week, and then went home? I suppose she’s out there somewhere. I wonder what she’s doing right now? I wonder if her hoof has healed? It’s hard enough to limp around when the weather is nice, but it’s worse in the snow. I wonder if she’s alone, or with someone special? Wherever she is, I hope she’s happy… and her hoof has healed.
Clippety clop, clippety clop, clippety clop went Blurtso on his happy little hoofs as he started up the hill. The stones in the road were rough and uneven, but Blurtso hardly noticed as he skipped along his way. Clippety clop, clippety clop, clippety… clop… clippety… clop… clippety… clippety… clop… clop… clop… clop… clop… as the hill grew steeper Blurtso could feel the pull in his haunches and the pull in his shoulders and the setting sun made an orange glow on the inside of his ears. Clop clop clop clop clop… whew! thought Blurtso as he looked at the darkening road in front of him. The uneven stones cast little shadows on the other uneven stones, and Blurtso cast a big shadow that made his legs look long and slender. When the sun was gone he saw a light up the hill.
As he made his way up the ever-steepening road he could no longer see the stones that clopped beneath him, and his hoofs became less audible with the pounding in his temples and chest, and the puffing that came from his lungs. When he reached the light he discovered it was the light of a store. He paused for a moment to catch his breath and let the breeze cool the sweat on his back and his sides, then he peeked in the door and saw a man drinking a drink, and another man sitting on a stool. Just then a mule clippety clopped to where Blurtso was standing and stopped to let its riders dismount. Burtso was astonished that the animal was not breathing hard and gave off no scent of sweat. The man and woman who were riding the mule went into the shop for a moment and could not be seen. Then Blurtso saw them at the counter with a bag of potatoes and the man on the stool rose to attend them. Blurtso heard their voices and there appeared to be a problem. The coins the couple had put on the counter were not sufficient to pay for the potatoes. There was a pause as the man and the woman and the shopkeeper stared at the coins on the table, then stared at the potatoes, then stared at the coins. They stood a long time until the man who had been drinking reached out and put more coins on the table. The figures that had been frozen broke into life and began to smile and chatter and nod to the stranger. Then the man and the woman took their potatoes and said good night to the shopkeeper, nodded to the stranger, and left the store. Blurtso felt the excitement of the couple as they stood next to him, tying their potatoes to the back of their mule, but instead of mounting the animal as Blurtso had expected, the couple stood and waited. When the man who had supplied the coins emerged from the shop the man and the woman who were waiting nodded to him and said, “Gracias.” The man smiled and nodded back, then started up the hill. The couple mounted their mule and started down the hill.
Blurtso waited until he could neither hear nor see the people nor the mule, and while he waited he looked at the lights of the town in the valley below.
Hey… there she is! What’s wrong? She’s limping… she must have injured her hoof! Oh no! Where was I?! Why wasn’t I there to help her?! I could have caught her when she fell! I wonder how she got hurt? Maybe she tripped on a crack in the sidewalk? Or stumbled when stepping off the curb? Or maybe she’s a gymnast? Yes, she’s a gymnast, a world-class gymnast… and she was hurt performing a dangerous dismount… but managed to stick the landing… and her team won the meet… and she took the gold! Yes, that’s it. I’m sure that’s it. Wow, that Lizzy is really something!
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?
Yes, that’s how it is, thought Blurtso, walking a mile in his hooves. That’s how it is and I know that’s how it is, he said, walking, the only way he could walk, in his hooves. I might pretend to know your hooves and you mine, one hoof after another, after all, until we fall, you in yours and me in mine.
It occurred to me today, said Bonny, that everything in the universe can be described by a single word. What? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, all the diversity, all the different perspectives, all the different realities that people believe in. What word is that? said Pablo. The word “or,” said Bonny. Or? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny. I don’t understand, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, do you agree that existence is based on perception? Perception? said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, that everything that exists is a relationship, that is, everything I hear, touch, taste, and smell is some kind of vibration interacting with my brain, which translates that vibration into what I know as light, color, sound, and smell. And without that relationship those vibrations would be no more than “one hand clapping”. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that’s true. So apart from my brain, said Bonny, or some type of brain, the world is devoid of light, heat, weight, motion, space, and time, because, like a current that won’t flow through a wire until the positive pole is connected with the negative, the vibrations of light and heat do not become light or heat until they have a point of arrival, until they interact with some type of organism. Yes, said Pablo. And because they interact differently with different organisms—the bumble bee’s perception of light is not the same as the donkey’s, or the human’s… the dog “hears” vibrations that donkeys and humans cannot… and though all donkeys are born with similar organs, some hear better or see better or smell better than others—the experience of “reality” is different for all living things. Yes, said Pablo, I believe that. So if someone asked you, said Bonny, to define reality, you would have to say that reality is this “or” that “or” that “or” that, depending on who is experiencing it and how they are experiencing it. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, that is the philosophy of “or”. I like it, said Pablo, the universe reduced to a word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “or” is “o”. O? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny, a perfect circle, except… Except what? said Pablo. Our circle is incomplete, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, the universe consists of all the perceptions of all the organisms, so it is not only this “or” that, but this “and” that, “and” that “and” that “and” that. Yes, said Pablo. So a better philosophy, said Bonny, would be the philosophy of “and”. Yes, said Pablo, and “and” is still a single word. Too bad, said Bonny, it can’t be reduced to a letter. It can, said Pablo. It can? said Bonny. Sure, said Pablo, the Spanish word for “and” is “y”. Y? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. Well, said Bonny, “y” isn’t a perfect circle, but it looks like two rivers flowing into one… diversity flowing into unity. Yes it does, said Pablo. Of course, said Bonny, by its very nature “and” would have to include “or”… so the ultimate philosophy would have to be a combination of “and” and “or”. You’re right, said Pablo, and “y” and “o” make “yo” which is Spanish for “I”. I? said Bonny. Yes, said Pablo. That’s wonderful, said Bonny. Why? said Pablo. Because, said Bonny, it brings us back to where we started, to reality created by individual perception, except that this new “I” or “yo” is not the individual, separate “I” that we started with, but a comprehensive “I”, a “yo” composed of all the perceptions of all the organisms from all perspectives. That is wonderful, said Pablo. Yes, said Bonny, is there any more popcorn?