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The Short Story



Here's a piece of fiction that wanted me to tell it, this morning. So, okay, it's afternoon; it took a little time to find the words. Anyway, here it goes ... It says a little about where I am in my avoidance ...


The Short Story

He could not remember moving in to his monastic little apartment. He ate and slept there, went out to work and came back again. He had a big stack of loose-leaf paper, and each day he would write the day's events on a sheet and drop it in the fire.

The stack was pleasingly large, and he gave it no further thought. He read and slept and watched the days go by from his window. Sometimes he shared his apartment with another, but mostly, he was alone.

He thought he had time, but Time had him.

One day as he took a sheet from the stack, he noticed that the stack seemed considerably smaller. There were still a lot of pages left, he thought, but he did not dare count them, in case he was wrong.

He tried to put more energy into his days, inventing and imagining, filling the day's sheet with intricate and wondrous inventions. He learned to draw, and covered the sheet with beautiful illustrations. But no matter what he did, each one went into the fire like the rest.

So he turned inward, looking for answers. There he found a bright light, and it spoke to him.

"What is the point of carefully recording your days? You cannot hoard them that way. Instead, why not spend them freely, and see where that gets you?"

So he promised himself to change. He went out each day to greet the world, whatever it might bring him. And sure, some days the world brought rejection or pain. But it also brought him friends, and new experiences. He saw babies being born, and old people dying, and children learning to be adults.

And the pages filled themselves each day, with more things than he could have imagined or drawn, and each day another page flitted into the fire.

The pile grew smaller, but he barely noticed. He was too busy filling himself with experiences, and enriching those around him with the ones he already had. And, when finally the last page was gone, he went peacefully, knowing that he had had more riches than he had ever dreamt of.

Death is not the enemy. Not living is the enemy.

Fight it, and your pages will be full.


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"Not living is the enemy". That pretty much says it all. If you are not living, you feel dead. Feeling dead brings to mind: apathy, depression, emptiness, lack of vitality, lack of passion, no heart energy, no drive, no "fire".

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Meh. Every end is a beginning. ;-)

I just wondered whether people thought I was going to keep going.

I agree with you, Athena, depression is a different kind of "not living". I think, for me, the depression has always been secondary to my tendency to avoid difficult things, so the story deals mostly with, um, "motivated apathy"? My tendency to want to do things, but avoid actually doing them.

In depression, that motivation itself is usually lacking. I would certainly never tell a depressed person to "just do it". Though in the end, only they can, they (and I, when depressed) usually need a bit more encouragement than that.

But for me, the end result has been the same: a lot of years passed without me paying much attention. I was afraid of doing something wrong, of getting into some trouble that might cause my death. I had pretended that the pages weren't turning, that death wasn't coming anyway ... I see them turning now, and now it's time to live.

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