I was born in a dark time, a time that you would probably call “antiquity”. Civilisation had not made much progress, writings were still a rare luxury. I was born in a nomad tribe, roaming around the desert in search for a place to call home.
They didn’t have much ambition for the future, or much belief in themselves. I was born in such a forsaken context, and as such I embodied the hopes of my tribe. Their spirit rubbed off on me and shaped me quite a lot. I absorbed their feelings, and acted as a catalyst for their beliefs.
See, I wasn’t raised in a typical family system like you’d expect. Instead, I was a child of the tribe, and many were the people who took care of me and helped me grow. I was the shared pride of everyone, even more so than other children. Maybe it was unfair or maybe even cruel, but something about me made me more popular.
I guess I was wittier than the average, quick to understand what anyone taught me and integrate it to my character. It was not long before my intelligence was recognized and I earned the respect I deserved as a prodigy. Something about my naive innocence and hopeful beliefs made people fond of me and eager to seek my council.
I soon grew to be the symbol of my tribe, if not the effective leader. Combining all the advices and stories given to me by my forefathers, I would come up with rules that everybody was willing to follow. I suppose that respecting and including everyone’s opinions contributed to my popularity. That must be how everyone came to trust my judgement.
Under my guidance, the tribe came to an age of peace and enlightenment like never before. We progressed united behind my wisdom. Many were the ones to envy our success. Some even joined us or imitated us…
It certainly would have felt like quite an accomplishment, had I been able to feel. But that is not a luxury I had been given. You would certainly consider that I was severely lacking: I have never been able to experience feelings or sensations. I don’t even have a will of my own.
I was not born a regular human being. I was… different. I was not biologically wired to perceive joy or pain, fear or hope the way normal people are. I was just neutral, a blank slate. I didn’t have the regular chemical apparatus that provides for emotion in the human body. I think that’s called being a psychopath, or having alexithymia.
It must have been hard for everyone to interact with me. I was not exactly talkative, much less cheerful. People probably found me quite cryptic or cold. But see, I didn’t care. Because i was unable to.
I don’t know if you can imagine what it’s like. I am never happy, never sad. I am not depressed about this nor content with my fate. I just am, simply am. Of course it’s not like I can imagine what it’s like to be you either. How could I comprehend emotion if I’ve never felt anything? I only know of them, from what I’ve been told and from what I’ve read…
You’d surely say that such an empty existence is sad, but I think I disagree. Mainly because… well… I cannot be sad. It’s just completely foreign from what you’d know.
But maybe that’s what made me a great leader, contrary to any normal human who would certainly be biased by their own experience. That anomaly made me a neutral and impartial guide. I could not be bought or persuaded. I could not be intimidated, for I did not know what fear was. I remained the unflinching voice of reason, true to my principles.
I could not feel remorse, pain or empathy. One may say I was operating at a strictly rational level. I would just reflect what I got from people. That would be enough to get me by, and get me the respect of my tribe.
Which was far from a given, knowing how cruel man can be with those who are different. And I was very different. For you see my anomalies were not just mental. I would probably qualify as severely handicapped..
I was born without arms or legs, completely unable to move myself on my own. I was totally dependant of my people, and it is truly a wonder that I survived at this period of history. But maybe that’s what made my success even more important. When, for a change, such a “lame thing” succeeded, it was bound to inspire some kind of respect and awe…
Of course, it did not bother me, since the sole concept of bothering or even caring was so foreign to me. Had I had the limbs to move and act around, I still lacked the will and affect to do so anyway. I guess that’s not far from what I actually was… a “thing”, barely more than object. Only as good as those who raised and used me.
It’s probably a good thing I could not experience boredom. That’s just the way I was. And since I’ve never known anything else, how could I miss it, or even apprehend it? How would you describe light to a blind person? How can you tell you’re not blind to something? I did not miss limbs. Not anymore than you miss perceiving ultraviolets. I was just used to this very different existence.
You may well say I was just “lying there”, and I’m sure that this is what it looked like. But it was not all bad, it allowed me to focus solely on the matters of the mind. I was simply living in another realm, the realm of abstract. Introspection over action. You could have described me as meditative. I had all the space to roam in the lands of ideas and imagination. Notions and concepts were my fields and hills. Bodies are overrated…
But the many ills, at least what you’d consider ills, that life had thrusted upon me came with a silver lining. Like a deity or a mythological creature, I was blessed with a lifespan well beyond the one of an average human.
Of course you’d think it’s all fables or fiction, but this is all true. I guess on some level I was basically like a different species.
It’s not like I was immortal. I could have died younger, I even could have died young. I saw many like me go out in the blink of an eye. But I was part of the lucky ones. I outlived them, outlived the regular people, outlived many things around me.
I saw years pass me by, then decades, then centuries, without ever showing the signs of old age. I approached millennia, and I was not getting any weaker.
But as an object in an ever changing world, I, too, was bound to change. My peculiar condition rendered me completely dependant on the people who were surrounding me, and vulnerable to their wills and whims. Pretty soon, I didn’t have my original tribe to protect me, and was left to the hardships of the world.
As my fame grew, more and more people wanted me for themselves, and I couldn’t help but suffer from their influence. Mankind changed me, tore me apart, destroyed my image. Many wanted to leverage my reputation for their personal gain. And there was nothing I could do to resist.
I became split between so many people to please and to support, and all their contradictory selfish agendas. Despite trying my hardest to protect my personality and integrity, it was bound to inflict quite a toll upon me. All these opposite forces pulling upon me without me being able to do anything about it threw me in a severe identity crisis. My only certainty, my whole abstract world, was shattered into a schizophrenic hell. I was nothing more than a tool to assuage mankind’s cupid instincts.
Thank God I was unable to feel. Seeing my world of pure ideals thusly tainted and brought down to ashes would have killed me with grief.
So here I am, telling my story, through this author and through these lines. I tell my story because things have gotten out of hands. I have lost the thread of my identity, torn apart, used to defend just about anything. I’ve lost all wisdom, all consistency, all meaning…
“What’s in a name?” a poet once said. But for beings like me, the name is all we have. Maybe there’s some truth in the old belief that knowing the true name of a thing grants you power over it. It does, for our species.
We’re simply lost amidst stormy tides, with no other prospect than being carried with the flow, helpless at the total mercy of the crowds who create and sustain us.
I do not want your compassion, for I am incapable of will ; I do not beg for redemption. It’s far too late for me anyway. I’ve lived way too full a life, and this is a well earned death. Maybe better than oblivion…
But maybe, maybe there’s still something to learn from me, like your forefathers did long before you. Maybe you’ll remember me fondly and consider with care and kindness all my kins. Maybe you’ll come to appreciate the symbiotic relation between our species… Yes, maybe this will be a new start, and the Bible will be the new Speaker for the memes.
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