By Dr. Xayyachack
Now I am officially committed … to the Story Project, that is, not a mental institution like some might think. My wife, bless her heart, says I should be sent to an old folks’ home so I won’t involve myself in every scholarly project that comes my way. I always remind her this tactic wouldn’t work because I would likely begin sociological studies on how elderly people live together in such a community, how it affects seniors to be cut off from younger generations and … how old men like me can easily become distracted. Back to the Story Project.
I spoke to Cassandra today and confirmed my desire to be a part of Mr. Lem’s project. Quite the professional woman, Cassandra told me politely that she was happy to hear it and that I would be a good addition. Though she is wonderful at hiding her personal feelings, I believe I sensed some relief in her demeanor, perhaps because I am the first writer to commit to the project. I am confident others will come; I already know of several students who might be interested, though I don’t know how many of them Cassandra would approve. In any case, these opening days will be exciting as more writers join us and we get a better idea of how this creative atmosphere will influence our writing.
As I hinted earlier, my wife, Judy, isn’t quite as enthusiastic about the project as I am. When I mentioned it to her, she began the usual routine of looking at me incredulously, listing off my other responsibilities – full-time teaching at both the Lem Institute and the local branch of the state university, attending meetings at various intellectual societies and clubs at both campuses, and maintaining our 200-year-old mansion, among other things – and finally demanding why I must be a part of something else. Thankfully, I was ready for this question.Much of my time as a youth was spent apart from the rest of society. Consumed with curiosity about the world, I spent days, sometimes weeks, alone in my studies. No facet I discovered failed to interest me, no subject matter satisfied my hunger for knowledge. I learned from the wisdom of others far wiser than I, studying their findings, theories, inventions, and ponderings. As I continued to learn, I realized I would never be able to absorb all the knowledge that existed or that was yet to exist. My own studies had, to borrow a familiar phrase, barely scratched the surface of all possible knowledge. Some might find this defeating and claim that the pursuit of knowledge is useless. However, I felt enlivened and relieved to know there would always be new things for me to learn, new avenues for me to explore. I need not worry about attaining, or feel pressed to attain, perfect knowledge, for that is unattainable for humanity.
Near the time I realized this, I met Judy, a young woman whose beauty pierced my heart, whose intellect stirred my own, and whose loving deeds put me to shame. I realized that in my studies of all the intricacies of the world, I had forgotten to live in it, to interact with it, and to support it. As I began courting Judy, I asked her to help me change this, to remind me how to live in this world and how to give myself to those around me. Judy’s beautiful traits haven’t faded in almost 40 years; with her guidance, I have implemented bits of them in my own character. (Though, unlike Judy, I doubt that any of my colleagues would call me a beautiful sight.)
Judy has heard all of this before, but though she loves to hear it, today she wanted to know more. She told me she thought I was already contributing much to the world and asked why I wanted to be involved in a writing project. Not having expected her to ask this, I was delighted to find I couldn’t put my reasoning into words. I realized this project feels important enough to me that I need more time to contemplate it before I can express why it is important. And to that end, I leave my journal for now.