I’m in darkness at the base of a mountain. I see a flickering light above me and decide to climb. There are thorns everywhere as well as rocky parts that scrape as I slip. I lose sight of the flickering light and feel lost. I sit still, there’s no where to go. I curse my situation. But then I smell it, the mouth-watering scent of good-cooking. “Hello, anyone there?” I yell.
And I hear it, a reply. I continue up, frantically searching for that pleasant aroma. “Go around,” I hear someone say. But I’m too determined to go the way I’m going. I lost it, the smell, I sit still, I’m not sure where to go. “Go around!” I hear it again. In my stillness I finally wonder what it means. I should go around.
So instead of up, I go around, and there it is, a simple incline that reaches all the way up to a pleasant little dwelling on the mountain. I walk the path and enter into an abode filled with sweet and savory treats. I sit and chat and eat. I’m satisfied. But outside I hear the scrambling of others attempting to reach this place of satisfaction.
I construct beacons of light for others to follow, yet I’m perplexed when my signals fail to guide. Too busy struggling, no one discerns their meaning, in fact they’re probably more confused. But as a fisherman fishes despite the lack of nibbles, I keep at it, fishing for those I hope to assist.
But who am I to presume I can help? I was until recently lost myself. And who’s to say I’m not lost still? Perhaps this shack is simply a distraction from a goal farther up. Am I paving the wrong way with my good intentions? At that moment I notice my companion quietly cooking, subtly smiling, humming a lighthearted tune.
Without even trying she shines her light into the world, carelessly sharing her joy. I don’t have her ease so I turn to engineering, to logic, to brute-forced illumination. Like a mad inventor I attempt to build unambiguous beacons. For years I toil in my lab, driven by an obsession to craft the switch that flips on enlightenment.
There’s an air of futility to it all. We live, we die, doing whatever in-between. But as a cat’s eye is drawn to the twitching tail of a mouse, my attention is turned toward the flickering light. I stare unsure why, while its brilliance permeates through my thoughts. So I continue placing lanterns in the dark, and by this effort I find my duty fulfilled.