I’ll tell you the story, though it’s quite the opposite of uplifting. I suppose the most positive thing that could be said of it is it’s hopelessly boring. Quite the opposite of engaging. A real drag. Dry as dust. Dull as dishwater. Like watching paint dry. No matter what idiom you use, the story is far from exciting. And that’s if you look at it in a positive light, which wouldn’t really make sense. After all, we’re both levelheaded, aren’t we? We want the facts, as raw and numb as they may be. That’s why you want to hear the story, isn’t it? You want an accurate description. You’re a truth-seeker, a fact-hunter. But, I digress. You came for a story, so I’ll give you one, though I can’t guarantee you won’t regret asking.
Once there sat a dark, dreary plain. It contained everything there was, and at the same time was the emptiest thing imaginable. For while many events indeed took place on the plain, nothing ever really happened, at least not in the common sense of the word “happen.” These events couldn’t even be described as anything more interesting than “events.” To call them “trials,” or “dealings,” or “proceedings” would suggest some sort of meaning or motive, neither of which was at all evident. Trial would suggest ambition. Dealing might imply motive. Proceeding has an obvious indication of order. None of these could be said to be apparent. Things happened: nothing more, nothing less. The plain just sat, day after day, night after night. The sun rose, and the sun set.
The sun rose.
The sun set.
I’m getting ahead of myself. For a very, very long time, there was no sun. The plain sat, cold and still, for many, many long years. It drifted aimlessly through the void, always moving, never making it anywhere. And what’s the point of moving when there’s nowhere to go?
It drifted in this manner for some time. Although, many wouldn’t call this amount of time “some.” It was a long enough period for you to have lived and died enough times to lose count. Not that it would be worth keeping track at that point. Still, nothing happened.
After an immeasurable amount of time had completed its lethargic flow, the sun began its monotonous cycle of rising and setting. It rose and it set, over and over for millennia. Day after day it would rise. Night after night it would set. Waters came. That was as interesting as things became; one day in an uncountable number of days, a new thing would come about. The thing was always something dull, something oscillatory, as though beckoned to be so by the exceedingly dull nature of the plain and its languid drift through the void. No matter what the new thing was, it had two motions, and it repeated them with absurd regularity. In the case of water, cold, unfeeling waves lapped on otherwise quiet beaches. In and out they went, as up and down the sun went, day, after day, after day.
Sometime during this period came wind. It would push and pull, push and pull, much like the water. Then came rain, falling and ceasing. It would fall on the dry, dead plain, and make great pools of mud. Even the mud accepted its role as another droning cycle. It would become wet and soft in the rain, only to once more become dry, cracked dirt. It all went on with painfully repetitious regularity.
As if this wasn’t enough monotony, the cycles I’ve outlined were actually just a very miniscule portion of an even larger, longer, drearier cycle. After an unbelievably large number of waves had crashed on a preposterously great expanse of beaches that had seen an exceedingly astronomical number of sunsets, the whole thing ended, and started back at the beginning. The sun, the water, the wind, the rain, the mud-it all went away. All that was left was the plain, alone, dark. And the plain went through cycles like this over, and over, forever. The amount of time it spent repeating the same existence again and again was so near boundless that “forever” is the most accurate term I would ascribe to it. It went on so endlessly, and with such regularity, that it may as well have been doing nothing at all. Its dynamic nature was so very excessively cyclical that it doesn’t seem at all a stretch of the mind to just call it static. Such was the lack of change that its manner of progression underwent. So, if you ever retell the story, save yourself some time. Just tell the listener that once there was a dark, dreary plain that drifted aimlessly through the void. You would do well to just leave out the torpid cycles through which the thing carried itself, because if we look at it as a whole, as a unit, as a thing with a cohesive existence, it never really changed. On average, the thing was a dark, dreary plain that drifted aimlessly through the void: nothing more, nothing less. What happened in between its drifting is miniscule in an examination of the plain. For an overwhelming majority of the story, it was just a dark, dreary plain, drifting aimlessly through the void. That’s that. That’s the story, or at least all the parts that really matter.
Oh! I almost forgot. You’re a fact-hunter, a knowledge-grabber. You want the facts, no matter how superficial or laborious. In that case, there is one last segment of the story that I usually leave out, because it happens in such an excruciatingly infinitesimal amount of time. At the very end, in about half a nano-blink, something happens. I should elaborate: a “nano-blink” is a unit of time of my own invention, just for the telling of this story, because the ending is so very short. For reference, just to display exactly how tiny and insignificant the end of the story is, one blink of the average eye contains 1,000,000,000 of the units of time that I describe as nano-blinks. That is how trivial, how nonsensically inconsequential the ending of the story is. But you’re a truth-seeker, a realist, like me. For the sake of knowing, no matter how little impact the information, in all its brevity, will have on you, you must know. So I will tell you.
The ending goes like this: At the very end of the very last cycle, something different happened. It was nothing exciting, nothing grandiose. It was small. It was not a bright flash or a loud bang. It was quiet-very easily overlooked, except by a person as bent on accurate description as myself. The ending began after one of the very last rains, with a tiny, insignificant object popping up from the mud. It had a stem and two petals, and (keep listening, I know it’s easy to doze off, what with this part being so inconsequential to the story as a whole, but this is important to know nonetheless, if you’re the rational type) it reached. Allow me to repeat that, since I interrupted myself: it had a stem and two petals, and it reached. It was somehow unlike the other new things that had come before it: the sun, the wind, the rain, the mud. It reached for the sky, as though it wanted to touch the sun. Yes! As though it wanted something! How absurdly preposterous! It was actually quite pathetic. It was obvious it couldn’t get there. The sun, I might point out, was ridiculously far away from the plain. By my reckoning, there isn’t even enough time contained in the end of the story for anything, at any speed, to travel between the plain and its sun. Yet, the new thing was ignorant of this fact, the poor thing. I pity it really, for it reached anyway.
Indeed, that’s how the story ends: with the little new thing reaching. Well, it doesn’t actually end there in the common sense of the word “end.” The story goes on for an even more microscopic amount of time, a time that is so small that nothing significant enough to tell about could possibly happen within its measly confines. At least, nothing significant enough for a fact-hunter, a truth-seeker like you or me to care about. Yes, the story goes on for a bit. More new things come around. All of them reach, just like the first thing. Their efforts become increasingly interesting in their desperation, in their incessant need to reach farther and farther, closer and closer to the sun. However, the scale of our story is remorselessly huge, huge enough to make any victories at the miniscule ending of our very long story quite frivolous. An objective observer like you can easily see that the ending of our story is negligible.
I prefer to end the story with “and the dark, dreary plain drifted aimlessly through the void.” That’s what matters about the story. That’s what took the most time. It’s that part that’s not negligible. It takes up the overwhelming majority of the time contained within our story, and one can’t argue with time. However, a less realistic, less objective person may prefer to end the story with “it reached anyway.”