Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived an old man. He was a man who aged well like a fine wine which gets better with time. He enjoyed playing cards, hiking, riding horses, roller skating (this had become trickier as the years went by because his body was becoming more fragile, but he still enjoyed the breeze on his face and the freedom it gave him), he loved to read and tried his best to take care of himself. He took the time to enjoy something just because it was there to be savored. He liked to call them “little moments” which he wrapped up and put into a little box in his head in which he would take one of them out in moments of solitude to enjoy and remember and laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine which keeps us young at heart, especially if we can laugh at ourselves.
One day as he was out strolling in the hills behind his Black Hills cottage in Germany, he came upon a path he had never seen before. Being the curious man he was, he decided to follow it. The path went for miles surrounded by beautiful scenery like he had never seen. There were a lot of wildflowers that were not native to the hills he was from. They were exotic-looking as if they had come from a hotter climate and that made him all the more curious so he continued on his way. He encountered a variety of different species of animals that were also not native to the land he was from but yet he continued, totally submersed in the beauty surrounding him. Hours went by and the sky began to get dark and yet he continued with no care in the world.
After many hours, which seemed like minutes, the old man came by a stream alongside a rocky. terrain. He was sure that the stream which he saw before him connected to the river close to his home because most streams end up in a bigger pool of water. Even though he thought this and there was some doubt about which stream this was, considering he had never seen this one before, he continued walking following the water downstream, mesmerized in the wonder of it all. After a few feet he saw something shiny in the water. He did a double take because his mind had played tricks on him before and he was not certain if it was doing it again. He had once saw a small metal coffee pot in the middle of a field and when he had reached it, the coffee pot was steaming with no electricity to make it so. It had turned out that that particular vision had been a steaming lizard basking in the hot sun when he reached out to touch it. So with great trepidation and curiosity, he glanced again at the water to see if the object was still shining or if it was all in his imagination. Hallucinating is never a good sign of anything.
He glanced in the water and sure enough, the object was still shining. He edged closer to the bank and looking around him with a sense of pride and ownership, he reached down to grab the object from its resting place. Pulling it out of the water was pretty difficult because it was attached to a rock and covered in slime which made it slippery in comparison to retrieving a hard -shelled clam from the sand. He managed to grab it and when he lifted it toward his face, he noticed more of what it looked like. It was not as tiny as it had looked underwater. It was about the size of a tangerine with the illusion of being as big as a penny in the ripples of current. the size of it was not the only curious thing because it also had the hardness of a rubber ball and the heaviness of a feather. There were porcupine-looking spines attached to the top of the sphere which retracted when touched. It seemed to have a distinct bottom and top to the object and was clearly noted with the words embossed on it like it was meant for a person of stupidity to find it, instead of a person of smartness. It was very odd that way and it gave off a fierce aura like fireflies glowing in the dark while fighting over a meal enough for one. As I mentioned before, the sky was growing dark and it was getting late, yet in this particular vicinity, it seemed like it was daytime and that time had stood still. Wrapping the object gently in a neatly embroidered handkerchief, he put the object gingerly in his coat pocket and continued following the stream toward home.
A week later, comfortable in his tiny little cottage, he got out of bed and proceeded with his new daily routine. All of the days following the arrival of the sphere to his home, he had managed to do things he had always put off. He was such a procrastinator, one of the worst in his village. He started to exercise daily doing yoga and tai chi and of course, lots and lots of sit ups which were now starting to show on his body. A body of youth, wow, he thought, what else will become of this. Ever since that sphere has been in this house, things have been different and I’m not only referring to the physical appearance of my body but also of my mind which seems to have gotten a sudden burst for knowledge that I can’t seem to quench. My brain has gotten sharper and less foggy. I get out of bed with more determination and steadfastness than ever before. The sphere is like a drug which I can’t seem to get enough of and yet it satisfies my desires. I have to tell my friends about this. No one is going to believe what I have found.
The days continued to fly by and the old man swallowed everything around him. There were days of exploring the countryside and shopping in the neighboring towns and villages. There was traveling to do and lying around contentedly on a hammock reading his favorite stories over and over and stories he had never read before. The days melted into each other and the old man thought of no one else. He continued to gain pleasure from physical things and he bought more material items than one could count. He thoroughly enjoyed himself. Whatever he imagined seemed to come true and came very easily for him. He had no more pain, no more sorrow, no more thinking. He acted like a child with no care in the world and no bills to pay either. Some way, unbeknownst to him, money appeared out of no where. He had no trouble acquiring it and he used it like it was going out of style with absolutely no worries about where it came from. He did not care what happened to that part of the equation. It was like the sphere took the form of a rich benefactor. His account was always full and he was always busy giving no thought to where the days ended or began. He forgot about his friends and others around him as he set out to satisfy himself and his needs. Selfishness became his motto and way of life.
Months later when he realized he had to share his “gift” , he set out for the company of his best friend. His friend who lived about twenty minutes down the hill. Setting out the door, he made sure that the object of his desire was with him and that he had everything he would need to explain the benefits of owning this sphere. No other name could describe it. The walk seemed to take forever. Time did not want to cooperate today. The steps seemed to be closer together as if his feet were dreading the news. It seemed as if his feet or time knew the news he was bringing would not go over well, but yet he continued determined to spread the word. He passed fields and fields of color. It was that time of year when the fields came alive with colored wheat stocks waving in the breeze. The colors passing each other like waves in an ocean, one on top of each other. The flowers he passed seemed to bend in recognition but he chalked this up to his imagination which seemed to be sharper and more abundant than ever. Each step seemed like an eternity and yet they brought him closer to his friend and closer to the truth. Finally his feet landed on his friends’ doorstep and he knocked, looking around him suspiciously as the noise resounded in the house. Hearing footsteps on the wooden floor an a rustle of fabric as his friend pulled back the curtain over the door, he waited patiently for it to open. His friend hesitatingly opened the door because the look on his friends’ face was of pure peacefulness and he had not seen this in him in a long time. It was an odd feeling but a curious one because people are drawn to looks of peacefulness and the curiosity of how such a look could permeate his friend so much was one he could not resist. His curiosity got the better of him and his friend crossed the threshold. Curiosity killed the cat, or so the saying goes.
Glancing around the house one could see the furniture was eighteenth century French provincial. Each room seemed to have a style of its own and yet they all seemed to belong together like one big happy family. The old man was offered a seat in the living room and he made himself comfortable on the couch. Sitting here once again brought back a lot of feelings of happiness which they had shared over the years. Memories of cooking in the kitchen using recipes passed down from one generation to the next, often verbally by an elder. Such laughter and gaiety filled the room as their attempt often did not compare to the original recipe or the elder present. Sometimes the translation did not translate correctly thus producing hideous results. One time they attempted to make American dinner rolls but instead the translation got messed up and they used baking soda instead of baking powder. The rolls looked beautiful on the outside but one bite into them and they were in the garbage across the room faster than a cat can wink his eye.
There were other memories over the years, which showed they had been really close friends. One could say that both of them had had a full life. They grew up together and went to the same schools year after year sharing secrets, friends, girlfriends, clothes and each others’ study notes. Their friendship had its falling out periods but they continued to see each other through life’s wonders and heartaches. Their wives had long been buried and their children grown so the only thing these two had lately were each other. It had been a long time, maybe as long as a year since they had broke bread together. It seemed that the months between visits had created a rift between them which was too big to mend. Life had suddenly gotten busy.
Sitting down on the soft, warm couch had significant meaning. It was as if a load had been lifted off of their shoulders and the months of not seeing each other had never been. It was as if time had stood still and then had picked up where they had left off. Their memories had come down between them to fill in the void. Memories of laughter and parties, cooking together, playing as children with no care in the world. Sights of their children playing on the floor and their wives passing looks between themselves at the sight of their husbands having a dispute over chess or a game of paper battleship. A show of times not soon forgotten but pushed aside when times got busy.
Pulling courage from the air, the old man took the sphere gingerly out of his pocket, carefully freeing it from the neatly embroidered handkerchief, he placed it on the table between them. The sphere stood out like an ugly duckling in a lake of beautiful swans. It still glowed, unchanged from the day it was found. The aura filled the room and seemed to outshine the sun which was coming in through the windows. Both of them stared at the object and the peacefulness on the old man’s face did not seem to dim. His eyes, however, gave off a weird hypnotic stare that no one else would have noticed except for his best friend who had known him all of his life. He was fascinated but yet repelled by fear of the object that seemed to have control over his friend. The old man did not seem to be feverish or psychotic but the impression that was given was more of hypnotic suggestion, perhaps, of being under some spell that was totally unexplainable but was there just the same. He still talked of the old days using the same voice he often spoke with, he seemed to have an excellent memory recall which was odd for his age. It seemed as though his recollection of events was clearer because of the object in front of them. He seemed to be younger and more virile and yet there was something haunting about the look in his eye, as though he only lived for the object and had no other desire to live for anything else or anyone else. It seemed as if the hours slowly ticked by as the sun dropped from the sky and the old man talked endlessly and tirelessly catching up with his old friend. Telling him of the path he had not been aware of and the vicinity of where he had found this most amazing sphere. He felt as if his friend were not exactly accepting of this new way of life, of the adventures they could now have, of being together forever and forever feeling younger, younger of mind and soul. The sphere did not change the aging process only the mind of the one it possessed. Time did not seem to matter to him for he had plenty now and it was time to travel and take advantage of the peacefulness of the whole thing. He could live forever in his mind and it was okay that his body would soon die but he would take with him more knowledge than anyone else had acquired in his century. He could live in his imagination, which seemed to be endless and of a great comfort to him. He wanted his friend to join him and he too could experience great knowledge and at last peace. The peace he had been seeking all of his life. The peace that kept him from suffering over lost ones or opportunities which had come and gone and were never taken. Of children who seemed to forget him as he had gotten older and who had seemed to be too busy with life to burden themselves with their parents now that they were older and had lives of their own.
Sitting there on the couch waiting for his friend to say something, the air was filled with a current of electricity. It was so thick that you could not tell if the electricity was coming from them or the sphere. One could see the electricity in the air as the two of them sat together and yet they sat apart with the sphere dividing them, dividing their friendship, dividing their world. The electrical charges in the air started to change color from blue to green in a half hours’ time as the clock ticked slowly and loudly. As time marched on, the room started to get hotter, even though the sun was going down and the air outside had started to cool off. The temperature in the room had started out as a cool 60 degrees but had warmed up slightly when the sun was shining through the windows. The temperature had remained constant until two hours later and by that time it had risen to 90 degrees. The two men were still mesmerized by the sphere on the table and to look at them one would think they had not moved an inch yet they were stripped down to their underwear. Only one of them was still talking with the old man trying to convince his friend that he should join him and become one with the sphere. The sphere was harmless and the change did not hurt a bit when it took over the mind and spirit. For months, the only thing the sphere seemed to do was encourage the old man to stop procrastinating, to live in the moment, to dream, to do what seemed impossible but really wasn’t. The sphere was his friend and as such it did not control him, possess him, or harm him in any way. It made him young, both in spirit and in mind. He was living his dreams. Doing what he could only imagine. It was not the sphere controlling his destiny. The sphere encouraged him and the “change” the sphere took on was in changing the person’s attitude toward Life and the things that really mattered. The old man was in control, no more hallucinations, no more talking, what’s it going to take to convince my friend to join me, to join us, to spread the word and warmth of the sphere? Doing whatever I imagine is wonderful and exciting. Just when you think you have Life figured out, something comes along and kicks you in the pants,
And then out of nowhere, as if reading his friends’ mind, the old man said loudly over the din of electricity above their heads, “You know, sometimes we all need something to get us moving. Why is it that sometimes, we need something other than ourselves to jump start our life? Why can’t we do it alone? What type of species does that make us when we can’t seem to find the time or the motivation to be ourselves, to live our own dreams, to use our own desires to do what we want? Why is it that in every relationship we have, we either find the beauty in it or the bad? Why is it that sometimes the people we meet touch our lives in ways which are totally unknown to us and yet it often takes the rest of our lives to figure out what they have given us, even if they were only in our lives for a moment?
“Because”, his friend said, “We are human. We need each other whether we want to admit it or not. The sphere may be only a tool. A tool to help us remember the times that brought us closer together or maybe it is a tool to kick us in the butts to live the lives that were given to us, to make good choices instead of bad ones or to live our lives to the best of our abilities.” “Well”,said his friend,”How long have you been this way?
The sphere had made the old man young, both in spirit and in mind. He was living his dreams. Doing what he could only imagine. It was not the sphere controlling his destiny. The sphere encouraged him, and the “change” the sphere took on was in changing a person’s attitude toward Life and the things that really mattered. The old man was in control, no more hallucinations, no more going senile, no more doing things he never wanted to do. Gee whiz, he thought, after hours of talking, what’s it going to take to convince my friend to join me, to join us, to spread the word and warmth of the sphere? Doing whatever I imagine is wonderful and exciting. Just when you think you have Life figured out, something comes along and kicks you in the pants.
“Well”, said his friend, “How long have you been wanting to say that to me?” “All of our lives”, the old man said, “all of our lives.”
Maybe the sphere was a figment of the old man’s imagination just like the dreams we have been having ever since the day we were born. Are we a figment of our imagination or of someone elses’? Do we really exist? It it safer to live in a fantasy world than it is in the real life where relationships, accidents, murders really happen? If you can answer these questions, then you are by far a wiser person. The hours tick by as the old man and his friend sit and wait for answers.