Used Up

It is a little known fact—unproven yet true—that people have a finite amount of nearly everything. Breaths, laughs, tears, orgasms—you only get so much of each, so use them wisely.

This is most evident in older people. People like Andrew, for example, who seem different because certain ordinary capabilities are now beyond them. He seems wise, calm, and enigmatic, largely because most of his passions have been exhausted. He speaks slowly and carefully because he doesn’t want to waste his diminishing supply of precious words.

“Sunlight. Feel heat.”

Seems like nonsense, but it’s Andrew’s “in the moment” tribute to existence. Words are used to note reality, experience, being. This is Andrew’s wisdom, an awareness of self and universe. Recognizing Andrew’s quiet but significant insights, interviewers seek to learn from him. But Andrew talks to few.

Ben was excited. He got the interview. He’d be meeting Andrew at the park bench that the aged sage visited every morning. Questions were ready. Ben used up more of his ample but slowly diminishing passion while anxiously awaiting the event.

Andrew sat, motionless, wearing the same grey suit that always seemed to cover his thin frame. His wrinkled clasped hands sat on his lap. His eyes were closed and his face was lifted toward the sun.

Ben cleared his throat and started slowly. “Good afternoon, Andrew. Mr. Andrew? Andrew—?!” What the heck is his last name?

Andrew looked and spoke surprisingly fast. “Andrew fine. Speak faster. Life short.” He smiled while making these otherwise snippy comments.

Ben looked at his notes. The first question now looked stupid. It was a warmup question and Andrew didn’t seem to be in the mood for frivolity. But he went with it anyway.

“What’s on your mind nowadays?”

Andrew’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t create thoughts. Receive them. Mind free.”

Ben felt disconcerted and slightly confused by the economy of words. Did Andrew mean that he didn’t think? Where did he receive thoughts from? Was his mind free of thoughts or did his reference to a free mind mean something else? With Andrew now not smiling and his clear green eyes intensely focused, Ben was unwilling to ask a follow up question. Andrew might lose patience and leave. He went to his planned second question.

“What makes you different from other people?”

Andrew looked like he might laugh, but his laughing days were behind him. Instead, he spoke flatly: “Your perception of me.”

Ben continued. “If you were to give ordinary people advice, what would that be?”

“No ordinary people. No advice.”

Ben was flustered. These word games annoyed him. Time to pull out the stops. If Andrew leaves, so be it. Ben wanted something from this interview. He’d go for it.

“Why are you playing with me? Won’t you share what you’ve learned from life? Can’t you share and make the lives of others easier? Aren’t there mistakes we should avoid, opportunities we should seize?”

Ben watched while Andrew remained still.

“Must answer self. That IS life. Words nearly done. Time.”

Andrew sat silently. He continued to remain silent, unmoving. Police and an ambulance came by. An officer closed Andrew’s eyes and removed him from the bench.

The interview was over.