Flavorology‎ > ‎Flavor in Space‎ > ‎

Chapter 49

Sitting in the moss, I close my eyes.  I see darkness, the void.  I wonder if this encounter with the void is where dreams come from.  Certainly, we all enter it to sleep, and certainly to dream.

The forest stretches on for a long while.  Groves of various shapes and sizes.  Suddenly, the forest ends abruptly at a cliffside.   And standing here, on this cliff, I look out directly at the sea.  In the distance, waves are hardly visible, but I can hear them crashing into the rocks below.  I feel like I've been to this cliff before, perhaps it reminds me of my home world where I was raised; a world, which, although still green, is now beginning to dry out and golden.  Or perhaps it reminds me of other ocean-sides I have visited across the galaxy.

The wide, endless sea reaches the horizon, the curvature of the globe, the end of perspective.  Only a small rocky path appears to lead down the cliff.  Why not take it?  The path is narrow, lined with fat succulents, green with purple and pink lining.  There are blooming flowers too, in bunches, and sand has accumulated between roots and rocks.  For some reason I imagine that if these little nooks were wide enough, they would be a delicious place to lie down in: sheltered from the wind, but within earshot of the beating of the waves.

The path ends right there on the cliff face.  No where to go.  I'm faced with space.  Blue grey sky, hazy horizon line, and blue grey sea.  No more flowers, no more leaves. The end of the land.  Stretching out one hand I swap at the air, loose, fluid, nothing to hold onto.  I grasp the roots and shoots on the cliffside for support.  I hold fast here for a while, facing the space before me with the stone mountain behind me, trying to comprehend something un-comprehensible.

If I were to make a living in this little spot, sleeping on a nook of sand, I would go out to sea and wait for creatures to rise up from the depths and bite.  I would clamber over rocks to find a few vegetables to add to my meal.  Perhaps I could collect the eggs of seabirds who fly out fishing each day.

What is life like to face space on all sides?  To rest on collected pebbles and sands on the eroding cliffside?  Is it a drab world of rainy ocean storms, ceaseless waves, rivulets eroding the stone?

As I wonder, a space ship appears on the horizon and glides over to this spot.  The ship beeps and flags to me.  A savior, he thinks himself, perhaps.  The driver opens the door and shouts:

"I can take you anywhere.  In a day you can be anywhere in the galaxy.  In minutes I can bring you anywhere on this world?  Of course, every journey has a price.  Of course, every mile has a time to cross it.  All you have to do is wait!"

I call out, "You've given me an opportunity to travel space again.  I can be a tourist anywhere.  But how do I know you won't just fly me around up there for a while and then drop me in some nearby valley?  I'll think I've gone across the galaxy but I'm really just in the thicket I went through yesterday!"

"Look Mister!  Your in between a big rock and a bigger ocean.  You're at the end of your road.  If you stay there too long you'll starve to death, or maybe roll out of bed, if you call that a bed, and fall into the crashing waves one night.  I'm doing you a favor.  Take it or leave it.  You spend all day looking out at the sea and sky, but now you can cross both in a matter of time.  What was once endless is now simply a figure of time and money.  My friend, you've got nothing here and so nothing is keeping you here."

I looked about my little crevice of sand.  I had wedged some driftwood among the rocks and it formed a small half shelter from the occasional rain.  The sticks were already falling down.  My stove was wet from the dew and although still a bit warm, it no longer smoked.  A few fish bones and egg shells lay nearby.  Its true, there is nothing here.  In a day, sand and all might very well slide away.

He went on, "There are space stations up there, sir.  Fabulous rooms, bubbles, entertainment centers!  From one of these stations you can see a million worlds below you, all you have to do is flick the channel.  If you want watermelons you can see watermelons.  If you want ladies you can see ladies.   If you want to see the streets of some city, I don't know why you would, you damn well could!  All the knowledge of the world is at your disposal from up there."

"What is seeing a book if I don't know how to read its stories?  Why watch streets that are meaningless to me?"

"Patterns buddy!  Aren't you interested in beauty, in philosophy? In having a good time?  Ride the patterns?  Listen to the music that you personally prefer!"

"Sure, I want joy..."

He knew he was starting to win me over.  I saw that the sky was not endless.  It was a measurement of weather patterns, of hours of travel, of quantity of fuel burned.  The sea was no longer a deep solid color with unknown depths.  The fish too can be measured, and they can be caught for profit.   Space, it too is something I can cross to get to the next mall, the next job, the next time.  The space man started to play some music on his radio.  He urged me to find something I like.

Then I heard your voice.  I felt the sorrow and joy of memories come to life.  I don't know where exactly your voice seemed to be coming from: whether from the rocks, the succulent plants, the little red flowers that bloomed this morning, the forest up on the mountain, the sea, the sky, or the silence itself.  There is nothing for me here, which means that I've got myself all together right here and now, and I suddenly decided to present myself in answer.

I turned away from the space man, and scrambled back along the little path, up towards the forest, the bogs, the insects, the people.  The man flew off, back to some distant bubble I suppose.