Q. Where would you like to be?
A. Right where I am right now.
Q. Where’s that?
A. In a cozy cafe on Main Street, not very far from campus.
Q. What do you like about where you are now?
A. It brings out the best in me.
Q. And what, by the way, is the best in you?
A. The best in me is a part of me that seems most authentic, less contrived, and less compelled to veer from my designated course.
Q. And what is your designated course?
A. I think you know.
Q. Do I?
A. Sure you do. It’s all over this blog, isn’t it?
Q. Is it?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. Is that why you’re being evasive?
A. What do you mean?
Q. Well, isn’t it evasive of you not to provide me with a direct answer?
A. No – not evasive. I’m just tired of it all. Tired of always having to define myself.
Q. Is that tiredness a form of ennui? Or perhaps burnout?
A. No, not really. I’m not tired of the designated course at all. I only tire of describing it.
Q. Well then — if you don’t wish to describe the course itself, can you tell us what to veer from it looks like?
A. Certainly. I veer from my course when I encounter a certain kind of compulsion.
Q. What are you compelled to do?
A. I dare not say.
Q. But if you will neither describe the path nor its detours, how can we possibly learn anything about this disparity?
A. That’s a very logical question. And I can’t say I didn’t anticipate it. So I have prepared an illustrative reply. May I proceed?
Q. Why not?
A. Here in this small, close-knit, Art-positive community, there are two establishments in close proximity to each other on Main Street. Like many of our residents, I have been known to frequent both. Down the way from this cafe, there is a very different kind of place. It is a much louder place – a looser place. A place where just about anything could happen at any time.
Q. A bar?
A. Not exactly. No alcohol is served. But the energy is a bit like a bar. Logical social boundaries are often broken, and with great disregard for consequence.
Q. Do you find this threatening?
A. Yes. Threatening – and at the same time, compelling.
Q. What are you compelled to do there that you would not do elsewhere?
A. Lots of things. Just about anything associated with a casual cultural standard. Cussing, for example. Or discussion of — you know, dirty things.
A. You know what I mean. Personal pollutants. Those things that soil the soul.
Q. Why on earth would you want to pollute your person? Or soil your soul?
A. Because to do so presents me with a consuming problem with which I am already quite familiar, and therefore comfortable. Thus it provides an escape from a present-day problem that is unfamiliar, and thereby making me very, very uncomfortable. To the point that I can’t even sleep at night.
Q. Didn’t you allude to this yesterday?
A. I did. Point No. 5 on my gratitude list alludes to it.
Q. So you wish to replace an uncomfortable problem with a comfortable one?
A. Exactly. The comfort would ease the pain.
Q. Isn’t that dangerous?
A. Very much so. That’s why I left the building. I was not only compelled — to do something that I ought not to do — but sorely tempted. The temptation came in the form of — a woman. A beautiful woman. Need I say more?
Q. Has enough been said?
A. Perhaps not. Only the tip of the iceberg has been revealed.
Q. Where did you go when you left the building?
A. That you know. I went down the way, to the cafe where I am now so content to sit.
Q. And this cafe holds no compulsions to veer from your designated course?
A. Not in the least. It rather fortifies my commitment to the course that has already been laid out for me.
Q. How so?
A. Here I have met the finest Artists. The greatest musicians. The most inspired social visionaries. The most engaging speakers, and the most fascinating storytellers. I am never compelled to veer when I sit here. I am only compelled to expand upon that which I already have.
Q. Then why didn’t you just come to the cafe in the first place? What compelled you to go to the other place down the block?
A. I don’t know. I don’t want to be thought of as snooty or aloof.
Q. What does it matter what they think?
A. It doesn’t. I think I just learned that. Well — I knew it — all along. But I didn’t think I could practice it. Now I do. I was scared when I sensed where the woman was heading me. And I fled. After fleeing that iniquity, a sense of peace has come upon me. The peace has come upon me — because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Q. What does that got to do with anything?
A. I have an echo on this planet. An echo in whom my voice resounds. When my echo is dissonant — or suspended, or irresolute — often I am as well. This is because the echo feels that her sound is that of an angel — yet in reality, the Angel has fallen.
But now, you see, I am consonant. Released. Resolved. And the peace that transcends all human understanding now guards my heart and my mind — through the Spirit of the God of Love. And if that incomprehensible peace has come upon me, then it can come upon my resounding echo. And my Echo will be at Peace.
The Questioner is silent.
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