I remember a story. I believe it was a rather sad one.
It is told that in the very beginning there were two spirits.
One was he who roamed the woods and cities and ruled over the minds of men. Revered in all, respected, obeyed, he brought order to where so ever his travels led. Where he came from, no one could say for sure. Yet his origins were never questioned, mostly because it was clear to the people who had had the fortune of encountering him that he did not like the subject. It is a tale of beginnings, and by association, of endings. He did tell it once however, in a bar with a glass full of whiskey in his hand and an empty bottle on the counter.
It is told that life began with a Thought. Who thought it up in the first place or whether it had in fact thought itself up is unknown. Yet through some manner of being, Thought opened its eyes to darkness. And that’s all that it was, darkness and little room to breathe in, for there was in fact no space at all, apart from that occupied by Thought itself. A tiny speck of nothing, encompassing in of itself its entire reality. And that’s what the world would have remained, if not for Thought being, by definition, a complicated thing. It wasn’t sure why, but it didn’t like the darkness, nor the suffocating feeling that was steadily taking over its being. The first pang of fear brought something else with it however. Purpose, which in turn gave rise to hope, which soon turned to despair, which turned to panic. Questions began racing through its head, ideas that it did not have the ability to understand, concepts it could not fathom, all conflicting with each other, all far too complex for one small being to handle. It all compressed itself into one point, one dot of information, a blueprint of the universe and Thought, not able to withstand the pressure, collapsed inwardly. All information was propelled into the existing space, and as it happened, space itself expanded to make room. And all concepts took a shape, primitive at first, only to evolve as time went on.
And Thought too was scattered about the world, stray ideas wandering through space.
One fraction of the original Thought remained however. Its consciousness, instead of dispersing, transformed into something else. A stream, ever-flowing through the universe, destined never to stop.
And as the stream made its course through the world, it observed the chaos that the explosion had left behind. Many thoughts had views on how life should proceed, but none could stick to one idea long enough for it to amount to anything. The world, ever expanding, was in a continuous state of change.
“And here I begin” said the spirit, taking another sip of whiskey. “I was born from the stream itself you see. I was immediately told I was to govern these thoughts. Give them some kind of purpose. Of course the word the stream was looking for was order, but at the time none of us had really come to understand that concept yet. Getting one thought to do what you wanted was nigh impossible especially when you yourself didn’t know your aim. They’re easier to deal with now, but at their creation there was nothing I could do to persuade them to listen. They seemed content in floating around aimlessly, occasionally coming up with an idea and then forgetting about it two seconds later. Still, I was young back then, and stubborn.”
He stopped, drew the glass to his lips and smiled softly.
“But one day I heard a voice.”
One was she who roamed the void and ruled over the hearts of men.
“The loveliest voice in existence. No words came from it but something much deeper, one new idea so beautiful it could not be expressed in words. An arrangement of sounds, in harmony and yet not, for the voice created as it spoke, harmonics, tone and melody. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who’d heard her. For the first time in the world’s existence, millions of thoughts grew still and listened.”
The spirit shook his head in disbelief.
“Where she came from or what she was, I’ll never know. I asked many times, but to no avail. Perhaps she did not know herself. The consensus is that she was just another thought that happened to evolve into something more. Some say that, like me, she arose from the stream. Others believe she’s a remnant from the beginning of the world, an entity that took a different course from the rest. I say it hardly matters.
I found her sitting on the riverbank, the water washing up against her feet, a hundred or so thoughts gathered around her. I made my way through the crowd and listened in awe. Such a lonely sort of melody. I don’t know if the concept of sadness had been figured out yet, though with so many thoughts swirling around, it might have been. But irrespective of that, listening to her voice was my first experience of it. In it I could hear the heart of the universe singing of its own creation, something so complex and innately beautiful, words were lost on it.
“What was that?” I asked after she’d finished and everyone else had left.
She looked up and smiled.
“I don’t have a name for it. The others seem to like it though.”
“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen them listen to anyone.”
She smiled and shrugged.
“I understand their love for chaos. Nothing need be the same for very long. When no rules exist, neither do limits.”
“Is that what you also believe?”
She laughed lightly.
“I, like you, see the need for order, or rather a balance between the two. Yes, I’ve seen what you’re trying to do. Trying to make some sense of their madness. You might yet succeed, but it will be no more than an illusion. If you force them to come to reason, they will always resent you for it, and at some point in time when you no longer have any hold over them, the world will revert to this.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Convince them it’s a good idea. Make them believe it was theirs to begin with. They like things they’ve made themselves. If you manage to understand their way of viewing the world, you might succeed in showing them your own perspective.”
‘But I don’t understand them! I’ve tried from the moment I was created, but their way of existing has always confused me.”
I stopped and stared at her for a few moments.
“But you do.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I don’t know what you are, but something about you draws them in. They listen to you. You could bring them to order! You could show them how to build a new world!”
She stood up and started pacing. Finally after a few moments, she shook her head.
“If I tried to do that, we would be no better off than now. Just because I understand the need for order doesn’t mean I like the idea. I’m too much like them for that. The world I would create would be far too versatile, far too dependent on my own desires. You would be making a mistake. This was your task to undertake. Why not see it through?”
“Even if I could get them to listen to me, which is unlikely, what kind of universe would I end up making? The very idea of disorder makes me uneasy, but a world without it would be unnatural, since its very creation is due to it. Having me arrange the world would be like throwing a dice with identical sides.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
I tried to think of an answer, but her eyes got in the way. Her beautiful, questioning eyes, looking up at me, as dark as the void she had risen from. Before I realized it the answer escaped my lips.
She gave me a doubtful look.
“We’re too different for that. It would never work.”
“Are we? Look at what you have created. That beautiful string of sounds, coherent by design yet profound in its beauty. You did that on your own. Think of what we could achieve together!”
Her face lit up suddenly and my heart, or something akin to it, skipped a beat. If she or I had been one tiny bit more different or more alike it probably wouldn’t have worked. But as it turned out, we were just enough.
And thus a new version of the universe was created. A perfect blend of order and chaos, of focus and imagination. Light arising from darkness.”
Here he paused, his gaze fixed into his now empty glass. His smile melted. He did not continue the story.
And yet we know the ending all because of her. She tells it to us over and over again, for it’s there in every song, poem and book, the story of falling in love and out of it. The story of all that is pure turning sour. Passion to obsession. Order to control. Beauty to vanity. Focus to narrowness. Darkness to light and back again.