The Mind's I


The Present

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.

Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band -- he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything?

It didn't seem fair.

At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window -- that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy.

"Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present."

--Unknown from ScribeTribe

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November 25, 1998
There goes my hero, he's ordinary

Eileene Kim's back. Ms. Rollins has emailed diary-l. I flipped through the email message, really uninterested in the current conversation that diary-l is currently ranting over... but now I've got her email address and I'm determined to continue our conversation of bodyart. <grin> I'm really not into corrupting minds... really, I'm not.

Well, I wrote to her yesterday and she replied pretty promptly. She says that it was a relief to get email from me, since it seems that I'm one of the few people who don't want to talk about the entire Kim/Wil/Dennis thing. It's really not all that interesting to me, personally. I mean, if she wants to talk to me about it, that's fine, but really, I just like making email pals that seem to lead interesting lives. I think it's fascinating that she's a photographer. Perhaps I can convince her one day of taking photographs of me. Hmm..

I got an email message yesterday from the MIT Assassins' Guild saying that they are running a game called the "The Final Voyage of the Beary Celeste". It got me thinking about possibly taking a trip up there. If we do, Mike and I would have to play in a game. That goes without saying, I think. It looks to be a comedic and spoofy version of the Final Voyage of the Mary Celeste (still one of my favorite all-time LARPs, no matter how much Mr. Lake criticizes it for disintegrating into chaos).

My mother asked me to get three bottles of Virgil's BBQ sauce before I go home, so I did. It took me forever to find Virgils, primarily because I was prowling 45th Street and not 44th Street. I felt very dumb, although I did walk a lot. I also passed by the Theater Circle, a very nice shop that just reopened its book section back up. So, I decided to stop in and picked up Harold and Maude which I quickly gobbled up on the bus trip home. I had finished it by the time Mike picked me up from the mall. Wow. It was very good. Lots of possible questions du jours from it. I will select the best quotes and start sprinking them in the next few entries. It's one of my favorite cult films and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a happy/sad/inspirational black comedy.

A new Question du jour today that I posted, and answered! Here's the question:

I've always been a big fan of Star Wars. I've seen the movies, read the books, savored the toys... and yes, I was one of the masses of people drooling with the new Star Wars trailer. I'm looking forward to May 21, 1999.

Right now there is an exhibit at the Smithsonian called "Star Wars: The Magic of Myth". It explores how Star Wars was inspired by Joseph Campbell's story of the "hero's journey" presented in his book "Hero With a Thousand Faces". Luke Skywalker follows the path of many myths from different cultures.

George Lucas talked about creating the film because of a need for a "modern hero". A hero for our times. I think he was very successful in that. Luke Skywalker has come to represent a modern-day myth. We all recognize that the story is fictional, but there is something about him that inspires people as well as being a reflection of our time.

Lots of people are called heros these days. Just turn on the news and you can hear about the "local hero". They won't stand the test of time that heros like Hercules or Robin Hood or Sinbad. They don't have the qualities that, according to Campbell, make them a "hero". What are the qualities that you use to define an individual as a hero?

My reply:

I suppose that my definition of a hero is pretty stringent, being influenced a lot by Campbell (and a class that I took in college where the class' purpose was to explore the definition of "hero"). In the news, I hear about people being a "hero", and to me that is inaccurate. They were definitely brave and I do not want to diminish their accomplishment by any means, but a hero for me is something (or someone) that stands the test of time because of their deeds. They are someone whose deeds go beyond what they performed and they enter the realm of "myth" after that person is gone (perhaps, not even). A relatively "modern" hero would be Abraham Lincoln. There are many deeds that are attributed to him that aren't true, but his name has "mythical" connotations for today's society. He's become a symbol in many ways.

There's something fascinating about the hero myth for me. The idea of an individual being called to arms, the rally to adventure when the hero goes on his/her quest. The hero goes out into the unknown, steps into the labyrinth and stars doing "great deeds". The hero sometimes encounters a series of "trials", many of them personal. Sometimes they have to make personal sacrifices, although the sacrifices that they make will help them bring the boon back to their people. Sometimes, the hero goes through "atonement" (a very Freudian thing of identifying with the father and marrying the mother and stuff like that). Nonetheless, the hero bring back the boon to the people (may it be freedom or knowledge or something that will culturally influence his/her people), which is why they are seen as a hero. That path is fascinating to me, and even though I don't think I'll ever be considerd a hero, I wouldn't mind looking back at my life and seeing that pattern reflected in my life. I want to say that I've marched into the unknown and although I've made some sacrifices and the road was hard, I brought back something precious and that I've added to society in my own little way.

In other news, I've agreed to do the design for a porn site for a friend out in Chambana. <cringe> I have no idea how it will go but I'll let you know more as the project moves forward.

© Copyright 1998, Eileene Coscolluela