The Common Barn Of Human Genius

barn in field

For so many years he had been a bachelor. And for so many more years he would be. He had heard of monks who go into the forest for ten or fourteen years, who, when they have done so and have taken such vows of silence, later come back to the world as it is. He recalled one monk especially who, upon completing his vow, when it was over, he stated, when he returned, that not speaking for that duration of time had been pointless. Well, he thought, that was one experiment, one trial less for him to have to experience. He did not have to obey the Law. He did not have to abide the Gatekeeper keeping the gate (and that being the least fearsome Gatekeeper at the least fearsome of the three more gates and Gatekeepers he would, it was rumored, have had to have faced). Not at all. And as for other bachelors in history, such as Henry David Thoreau, who had completely muted his desire for women by owning the myth of his own personal ugliness, that sort of self-mythologizing, and thereby cauterizing both want and need, that was indeed another way to go about it. To rid, to banish desires so as to have none, yes, he supposed a man might do that. But to do as Gandhi had, (however controversial his practice in some circles of thought) and sleep beside the bodies of two perfumed young naked women and to not touch them, that was indeed something else. Such is the sort of law to which this bachelor in his heart of hearts wished to belong. However, he was moved by the most earthly things of all. He might overhear people chatting about birds flying far above overhead. They might say, “Are those the eagles?” And one of the party would then ask, “Do eagles fly together, though?” Quite possibly the wide-winged birds circling a-high were in fact vultures. But this bachelor of men loved so much to hear the people talking, people themselves, and the innocent moments of human genius, that his life alone was like a coin dropped in a well, a matter of deep question however insignificant it might in the end turn out.

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