He sat, silent as ever. He was always silent, but never long without thought. He sat, absorbing the sights, smells, and sounds of the world: he was among the remaining few that cared. He could not speak, but he could feel. The world had become numb to such feeling when the wires and silicon seeped into the brains of the population, stripping them of humanity and emotion. He, however, had been skipped over. This singular decision to spare the technology for another had hurt him in simple ways, but consequently maintaining his ability to think and feel. Among the others he had met, only he had the capacity for intellect, emotion, and humanity. The others simply had become a processor; a machine; inhuman. Had he lost these abilities to the devices, he may hold a job, fit in, or even forget what it meant to be human. But at what cost?
He had, after years of analysis, decided he prefered life this way. This was truly life to him, not the robots that humans had become. He spent years of his life in segregation, cast out from society for being human. His sense of emotion had developed to a level beyond anything anyone else could feel, despite his “illness”. He had accepted that fact that he was unique in his capacities to be a human for many long years. It was not until he met another, a human that escaped the claws of the devices, that he ever questioned this realization.
* * *
“Who are you?”
A light flickered on, just a few paces from where he now stood.
“Well,” he said,”I don’t know.”
“What is your name?”
“I’m not sure”
“Why do you read?”
“I don’t have a device, if that is what you mean to ask.”
“I have never met someone like me before.”
The second person, another young man, pulled a wrinkled page out of his right pocket. He sat, without speaking, to read the page in the light of the candle. He truly had not spoken to another ill person in years. He had so many questions for him. Had he met others? Why did he have no device?
The second person did not seem interested in speaking. Maybe he had lost his desire to connect with other people. Maybe, despite what he hoped, even the other ill people had lost their feelings and emotional capabilities, despite having no device. This must be it. How unfortunate.
* * *
There he was again. Inside the library, even earlier than he had arrived. He looked up from his reading and noticed him.
“Did you come to see me, or come to read?”
“Both, I think.”
“Come sit with me.”
Just as the tide eventually falls back into the sea, he had felt the bonds of the devices release their grip. This is the essence of the human experience. Like the gates above he had seen before, the light he held shone as if to say “here we are”.
He returned to the building each day after, like clockwork, in hopes of the other man returning. As each day passed, he felt himself slipping back into the cold grip of the devices. As quickly as his hope and life had restored, it had once again left him.
He had never understood his “illness”. He could think, he could feel, he could see, and he could understand. After meeting the second person, he finally understood. Most people had little use for a library anymore, they had the books stored as 1’s and 0’s in their devices. Inside the book, there were hundreds of pages full of short pieces that had been works of art, at one point in time. Now, they were little more than a mark on a page which captured the feelings of another ill man who could think. One of the his favorite pages read:
I can see you and you can see me,
Only remembered by what we used to be.
The light of the day
Shines down as we lay.
Today is all that matters,
For tomorrow is never certain.
To think is to know,
To know is to wonder,
To wonder is to feel,
To feel is to be human,
To be human is to love.
For the absence of love
Is nothing less than a curse;
The absence of thought
Is nothing less than a crime;
The absence of feeling
Is nothing less than the end of humanity.
He was not the ill one.