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The Man's Great Book
An old man walked into a library holding a giant book. He seemed to be very pleased with himself.
“Ah, my dear Darius,” he said to the librarian, “I have written a great book that shall change humanity in the many years to come.”
“How very nice sir,” answered the librarian absentmindedly.
“How long have we been friends?” inquired the mysterious man.
“Now that you mention it sir, not until a second ago,” the librarian looked at the man with confusion, “and by the way my name is not Darius.”
“Oh, what a pity,” commented the man, “Darius is such a great name.” the man paused, “Moving on. Would you be so kind as to translate this book into five different languages please.”
“That is a very complicated request sir, let me look at your book.” The man handed over the book to the librarian. It was a very heavy and thick book. Curious, the librarian opened the book and looked at the first page. It was completely blank. It had no words, just empty space. Quickly, he flipped through the pages, but they were all the same, wordless. The librarian looked up in bewilderment, but the man was gone.
He set the book aside and went back to work arranging other books in the library. He took books off one shelf, and set them on another. He helped people check out books and find the ones they were looking for.
At the end of the day, the librarian was locking up the door to the library, when he casually noticed there were five books left sitting on a table. He didn’t think much of it. People always left books out. He would sort them back on shelves in the morning.
The next day, the man came into the library. It was early, and the librarian was drinking coffee behind the counter. As the man headed towards the table, the librarian stood there and observed the man from afar.
“I see you were as eager as I to publish my book.” said the man to the librarian “You’ve already translated all the copies. Very good work Alexander.”
A hint of annoyance flashed across the librarian’s face, but did not replace the bewildered curiosity in his eyes. The librarian stayed silent, taking in every movement of the man as he bent over each of the five books that had been left on the table.
The man glanced at each of the five books. He seemed very confused. He took one up, flipped through the contents and exclaimed, “Latin?” Gave up, set it down, and chose another. Opened it, “What?” he exclaimed. “Is this Greek?” He set the book down and looked at the title of the next, “Russian? What languages did you pick? I cannot read any of these!” He took a step back from the table, obviously displeased. “If I cannot read them, how will my people?” Then with a final glance at the books he said, “I do not understand your generation. No one seems to understand or appreciate anything these days. You miss the most obvious, and destroy the most basic. Perhaps that is the disease of civilization.”
The man seemed to be thinking deeply to himself, processing every detail. After a while, the man walked back to the librarian with newly found composure and asked, “What are those books on the table?”
“They’re the library’s books sir.”
“They are not translations?”
“And they’re all in English sir.”
“I see... English. Hm... Strange language... Uses an alphabet...
“Have you read my book yet?”
“Uh, sir,” the librarian babbled uncertainly, “your book... the book was blank.” he paused, then gained the courage to continue, “Empty. Nothingness. It has no words. It’s not a book.”
“Ah! But you see my dear librarian, this is where you are wrong, for it is not empty. My book is filled with possibility, imagination, simplicity. It is so openly obvious you do not seem to be able to understand it.
How do I say this... ah! As one of your widely known authors once said, ‘Sometimes the questions are complicated, the answers are simple.’”
The librarian stared blankly into the eyes of the man, uncomprehending.
“You are asking yourself how to interpret the book. How can it be so full to me and yet so empty to you?
When something is believed empty, the mind goes to great lengths to fill it. Eventually, you fill it with yourself, your thoughts, feelings, wonders, discoveries. It begins to mean something to you. The once empty space begins to form a reflection of yourself. The real meaning lies within you, what you see, what you think, what you believe.”
“Listen, keep the book. Observe it. Study it. Fill it; and maybe someday, you’ll be able to read it.”
And with that, the man left.