Literary Dim Sum: The Life Best Lived, n’ All That

Happy Thursday, all.

Did you know that hippos can’t actually swim on account of them being too muscled? They just sink, so rather than swim, they just run along the bottom of whatever body of water they’re in. (No joke this time, this one’s just cool on its own.)

Short and sweet this time, and we’re going to do a two’fer. Both are…I’d call them excerpts, but there was never anything more to either of them. They were just thought experiments (but even that’s loose), mostly dialogue between two mostly-unnamed characters, that I wrote out forever ago in a form loosely called prose and gave titles.

First up:

The Why of It

“I can’t stop thinking about that man you killed back in Raen.”

Vrok shook and bobbed his head in response.

“Because he didn’t know why,” explained the warlock. “I think that’s the saddest thing. We all live stories and it’s important to know how and why it ends. Whether that’s living to a natural conclusion, dying for a war’s cause, or because the armed man wanted your money, at least these ways you understand your last page. It’s a pretty ubiquitous sentiment, I feel.”

Vrok grunted.

“Well, to most of us. I think that’s why most minds agree it wrong to harm small children and animals that were domestically raised. I doubt they understand nature’s crucible of hunters and prey and what side of the line they fall on; so there’s no way for them to know why it’s happening. Violence with reason is a means to an end. Violence without it is just cruel and cold.”

Vrok ruffled his feathers and patted his beak with massive paws.

“The why of a matter is the heart of a matter. Next time, show restraint. Just because we can look into his past and see his crime doesn’t mean he knows that’s the reason for his end or that he even remembers it. It isn’t fair.”

Vrok loosed growled bark.

“You’re right. I doubt he’d even heard of an owlbear before.”


The Take: This one could have been used for more, or been a part of something larger, but I think at the time I just wanted to get out there the idea of understanding one’s end and the importance that holds. Dunno, felt fun at the time.

And secondly:

Earth Everlasting

“We’re not destroying this planet, don’t fool yourself. She’s too large and too grand for that. We’re simply making her shell inhabitable for ourselves. She will regrow what we burn, rake up, or poison and she will live on while we die. But it will be by our own hands that we die.”

“But what about the responsibility we owe our children, or the animals whose homes we certainly do destroy? Human expansion is responsible for so much loss of life.”

“True, our kind is far from blameless, though I think it ignorant to believe this the first time it’s happened. Life ebbs and flows yet exists as consistently as the ocean’s waves. Don’t think the view gained from our tiny slice of time here to be the entirety of it; that our constructed time-line encapsulates the earth’s whole story. The clues of lost times and histories were long ago reclaimed, their ages set to equilibrium as ours inevitably will be.”

“I don’t understand how you can be so heartless and without empathy. How can you not keep in mind our children, or their children after them, or those uncounted future generations? We will be those to blame for the apocalypse they inherit from our actions. You see that, don’t you?”

“I don’t see the reason in fretting for those who haven’t life yet. Though, still, they should be so lucky,” she chuckled.

“What makes you say that?”

“My dear, people have for thousands of years believed themselves and their generation significant enough to be worthy of the End Times. That you and I stand here today having this conversation shows that to have been self-aggrandizing fantasy. For a people to experience a monolithic event that was dreamed of and preached by their ancestors for millennium, never mind the earthly horror of it, there would be a beautifully bleak privilege to it. In some sense, perhaps, that cosmic shedding could be seen as a gift.”


The Take: It’s surprising actually how often this one’s come up in my own life. I think it came about right when I was personally becoming privy to the whole Climate-debate at large. This isn’t the place to get political and I’m not about to, so I don’t expect that. I will just say that it provided a handy example, an anchor to combat a lot of the nihilism out there.

Aaaaand that’s it today. We’ll dive back into the series of Amwren Origins again Tuesday, so see ya then!

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here (and tell ’em Evan sent ya!):

Today’s FableFact source:

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