Petrov’s Eternity or Infinity Machine: A Parable of Reproduction

petrov's machine

There is barn behind a solitary house deep in the country. In this barn, converted into a workshop, a man named Petrov has spent almost thirty years dedicated to his life’s work. That toiling involved the invention of a curious apparatus he calls the Eternity or Infinity Machine, named after it’s two possible functions.

The Eternity function allows the contraption to replicate itself so that when its parts wear down another machine made in it’s image can perpetuate it’s existence.

The Infinity function allows the contraption to complete any possible task, such as computing, ditch digging, writing epic poetry or anything else that might have been possible for it’s creator to achieve.

However, since the device has a limited ability to process resources while completing it’s functions, it can only fully commit to one of it’s two possible states, or it will not operate efficiently at either. So the decision must be made whether to switch the machine on in either it’s Eternity or Infinity function.

Petrov was very proud of his machine. For this reason, he was partially inclined to ensure that it endured long past his own lifetime and in eternal perpetuity. Yet he was also concerned that a machine whose only function was to continue it’s own existence was inherently without any meaning or purpose.

Infinity, on the other hand, meant that the machine may complete any possible number of enduring works during its existence that would last millenia. Certainly creating lasting achievements was another kind of immortality. And the benefits it yielded would (theoretically) apply to the whole of humanity. Yet an emotional and instinctual drive to see to the perpetual existence of his own creation, which was predicated on his own history and lineage, was strong.

So vexed was he by this decision, that he eventually found himself unable to make that final choice. And so as not to have wasted his whole life’s work, he has asked that you make the decision for him.

Which function should Petrov assign his invention, Eternity or Infinity? And more importantly, why?

NOTE: As a parable, there is no right answer to the questions it poses. It is not meant to trick you and cannot be solved like a riddle. Assume the parameters given are absolute. For instance, the initial function chosen for the machine cannot later be changed. This exercise is meant to engage the reader in and introspective analysis of existence and the meaning and purpose of life; as well as call into question the practice of biological reproduction as a compulsive behavior. The use of absolutes, while inapplicable in reality, serves here to foster greater self-awareness rather than objective truth.

From the Ashes of A New Moon

Madison curled her toes as brave autonomous flames tested their freedom outside of the fire pit and sent their tendrils rollicking in her direction. She took in the potent smells of the hardwood and dried dung with olfactory aplomb, turning her head to follow a wisp of the smoky perfume. It was a learned aesthetic preference. In the world where her childhood had lived such smells were merely historical footnotes. Now that world was gone and the habits of the world before it had come full circle. A bat swooped down to snatch up a moth that had revealed itself in the fire’s trembling light, and drew her attention upwards. Although she had developed a pleasure in things like the scent of burning excrement, the sky was a book of revelations she could never quite get used to. Ever since the OMG, reality itself had changed, and no place was that more evident than when she gazed upon the two moons above her.

“Your brother should be here soon, Maddy. I am going to fill the kettle and grab an extra cup. Would you like anything while I am beneath?” asked Jayden, the woman’s husband of nearly sixty years.


“…ICE COLD,” he cajoled along with her. It was a very old joke between them. It had been even longer than they had been married since anyone had drank an ice cold Popsi. The memory of sugary things always excited an almost primal urge in them, but over the years they had learned to appreciate even that urge. Anything that mutually connected them to the old world was welcomed, as it was the only remaining evidence left that they had not gone absolutely insane.

“B-R-B,” he said, again summoning a past that had become even less than the threadbare memory that preserved it; and shuffled down into the tunnels whistling an extinct melody.

The OMG had blanketed the skies with ash for fourteen years after. During the first six months the skies were almost completely black and the world beneath them either died away or plummeted back down the ladder of human history. When the first noticeable light began making its way through the post-apocalyptic smog, the sun was entirely unvisible as an object. Its rays stretched out into the ash and clouds and the focus of its fiery beams dissipated over the facing hemisphere and beyond. Refraction, or something like that, the last surviving scientists had said. While the moon still was still noticeable as a celestial object, it no longer held all its singular glory as a glowing orb in the sky. Some other trick of light and matter had caused the moons beams to split as they passed through the suffocating atmosphere, which created the perceptual effect of dual moons. The old priests, the scientists, had tried to explain the effect. As years passed, those who had been frightened right out of their old belief systems, as well as the new generations, began to believe that there actually were two moons. In fact it was the birth of this new moon, they believed, that caused the OMG in the first place.

Despite the protest of surviving academics, experts and authorities; the belief in the two moon theory became widespread. And so fourteen years after the entire thing began, as the ashen curtains began to part, two beautiful moons sat defyingly obvious in the gloriously deep, open skies. Absolute faith in the methods, models and myths of the pre-OMG world were abandoned and the oldest human truths began to replace them. Beliefs are not based upon reality, as the world of their childhood had imagined, but precisely the opposite.

“Don’t even try to sneak up on me, Connor. You have the grace of a wooden bull and are likely just to hurt yourself again,” Maddie called out at a slight rumbling in the near-distant darkness.

“Hush it, sis. These are the creaks of an old man, not the squeaks of one who sneaks,” Connor rhymed in his equally charming and infuriating way. Slowly, achingly, he ambled up next to her and took a seat. “Where is Jayden?”

“Fetching refreshments. He will be back shortly,” she answered. “Lovely night. Thanks for coming over.”

The two of them sat in silence waiting for Jayden. The three of them together represented nearly half of the surviving humans from before OMG. So far as they knew, from the small portion of the world they had contact with, at least. That is why they had gathered on this night. To prepare their final report to the council of elders. It would be the last time they would meet and their final edicts would breathe one last breath into a world that they were too old to recognize or shape any further.

Little sparks were pushed by the smoke up to the tops of the trees only to disintegrate into the night sky. Like man, they had been born of a great fire that reached with all of its might for the heavens, only to come floating back down as ash. Someday that ash would mix with the earth to create fuel and a new fire. Such was the cycle of things, growing and collapsing, gasping for new heights in which to set new fires, and then falling yet again. Where the ego of man saw this unending cycle in the terms of successes and failures, the world recognized the process as rebirth and renewal. A chance to begin afresh and become something entirely new. Individual humans measured this as a failure or loss but the great mass of human consciousness renewed itself through these events like the rising and falling of waters in the fountain of eternity.

Jayden returned to the fire with a great rumbling of laughter, “If you two aren’t the most serene geezers the world has ever seen…” he trailed off back into a fit of coughing and laughter.

“Grab me a Popsi while you’re up.” Connor joked. The three of them were a trifecta of anachronism and they reveled in that mutual difference even more as their days grew shorter.

The three of them sat around sipping a tea made with herbs, roots and bark. It was no Popsi, but it was still a special treat in this world of diminished resources and practical rationing. They caught up on personal and family news and gossip and occasionally drifted off into bouts of silent fellowship. The spring sky was full of insects and the flying mammals who ate them. While most species of birds had not survived OMG, and those that had crept cautiously through the shadows of the food chain, bats had fared quite well in the new landscape. Their whirling dives and aeronautic playfulness were endlessly fascinating. As they wove dizzying paths around one another they flew through the dual beams of the twin moons, like some fantasy story from the old world, or a science fiction Halloween decoration.

“Yesterday Viv got back from Melvinville. She says the journey took them only two days. When we first came here it took a full four days of steady travel. As the years have gone by that number has halved. I don’t see any other explanation. The world is shrinking.” Maddy stated her opinion confidently and waited for an argument to counter her suspicion, but none came. The two old men made barely perceptible nods of agreement.

“What the council wants cannot be done. It is a fools errand. When even the world shrinks to fit the beliefs of those living in it, no edict from old farts like us is gonna mean anything to anyone,” Jayden lamented quizzically.

“You are right, you are both right. We are all too wrong to be right anymore. We are obsolete. Museum pieces. The younger people have humored us long enough.” chimed Connor.

“So we won’t go?” asked Maddy.

Her toes curled again at another escape of flames in her direction. She drank in its warmth and smells. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t. The acrid aroma of the fires fuel sent her spinning back into herself. The night was music. The bass sounds of frogs and the groaning of dying and growing trees mixed with the high pitch sounds of insects filled the nights natural auditorium. In the harmonic center a cacophony of other living instruments filled the aural spaces. The music was alive under the twin conductors of Earths two moons.

Carson sat alone at the great table that once seated many of the greatest survivors of OMG. The five remaining seats around him stood empty. The final meeting was a bust. He didn’t blame them. He wouldn’t of come either, if he didn’t live here. For some unknown reason he pulled his tired old body up onto the great wooden table and lay on his back. Looking up into the clear blue sky he relaxed for the first time in over sixty years. It felt good. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t.

The Parable of the Chumchimmeries

A very long time ago on an island named Barbaroosa lived a species of bird known as fleebopples. The fleebopples ancestors had discovered the island hundreds of thousands of years before while migrating south from one continent to another. Finding the island a fitting place to feed and perhaps rest, the flock landed. The next day, as most of the flock gathered together to resume their journey, a small band of dissidents opted to stay behind. They were enamored of a certain local cuisine, the galuga fruit. After several days of feasting on the scrumptious berry-like gems, the remaining fleebopples decided to make Barbaroosa their permanent home.


The fleebopples called the island home for thousands of years, and everything was just absolutely perfect. At some point, however, a terrible thing began to happen. Suddenly all of the trees that bore the galuga fruit began to show signs of disease. The trees bore less and less of the great birds diet until one day they brought forth none at all. It wasnt long before the trees themselves were gone, and the fleebopples were without their source of food and shelter.


The lost flock had lived so long on the island that they no longer had the instincts necessary for migratory flight. Stranded on this island which had suddenly become so harsh and alien to them, many of the fleebopples perished, mostly from starvation. Most of the survivors were young, many who suggested scouting out new homes off of the island. The few remaining elders warned against this. It was of their opinion that the fleebopples would easily find a new source of food and shelter if they persisted, at which time they could live perfectly contented on Barbaroosa.


Before long the great avians’ found a new food source. This is what happened. One day while bathing in a freshwater pond, a fleebopple had stuck its open beak under the waters surface. At that moment a large water insect swam right into its mouth, causing the bird to swallow, and thus gain sustenance. In a fit of excitement the bird flew and called others, and showed them its new trick. In no time at all, the island was ripe with scenes of fleebopples dipping for insects in the freshwater pools. It was soon discovered that if they wagged their tongues underwater, the insects were more greatly attracted. So were other inhabitants of the waters, but most were too large for the fleebopples to feed upon.


The most successful among them were those whom had larger beaks and more agile tongues. In true Darwinian fashion it was these who survived best and bred most. Over the next several thousands of years, the birds developed much larger beaks and more flexible tongues, which allowed them to capture larger and larger prey. After awhile, however, the beaks had grown so large that they could no longer even fly. They had also taken to nesting in brush piles, rather than the trees, since it was closer to their food and no large predatory ground animals existed to threaten them. Eventually, they were no longer even fleebopples. They became chumchimmeries.


The chumchimmeries were perfectly adapted to a safe and comfortable survival in their environment. They ate well and increased their fold, becoming the most populous animal on all of Barbaroosa. They lived in a state of perfect contentment on their little oceanic paradise for several thousands of more years.


Then one summer a drought came to the island. At first it didnt seem to affect the chumchimmeries, but slowly their precious freshwater fishing ponds began to dry up. As the waters sank, its inhabitants began to rapidly diminish. The chumchimmeries staved off panic by searching for an alternative food source, as their biological ancestors had when the galuga fruit disappeared. Fishing the foul saltwater inlets was not very profitable. The inhabitants of those waters were difficult to catch and eat. There were also too many dangerous predators lurking about below the surface for it to be safe. But worst of all, to the chumchimmeries, was the acrid salt water itself. No end of the drought was in sight, and the great birds began to starve their lives away.


As if things were not bad enough for the chumchimmeries, one day near the end of summer, a catastrophe occurred on Barbaroosa. An electrical storm passing overhead had started several small fires on the dry island. The storms brought no rain with them, and in no time the fires had turned the once lush paradise into a smoldering scar. All of the lucky chumchimmeries died immediately. A few lived by waiting out the fires and wading in the tides below the cover of smoke and far away from flame. But even these died slowly, one by one, until only one chumchimmery remained.


It is now fall, and the last of the descendants of the lost flock of fleebopples lay dying, as it hears a noise coming from above. Looking up, the chumchimmery sees a flock of fleebopples passing overhead on their migratory flight south. As the bird slips in and out of consciousness it has a vision of flying aside these discontent avians. It summons up ancient memories of a time when its ancestors flew freely into the sunset seeking adventure and endless options, before the contentment of the island had so seductively lured some of its kind into its trap, weaving them into its design so thoroughly that they could never escape it.


The great whooping calls of the fleebopple fade as they disappear into the horizon, and the last chumchimmery lays down its enormous beak and drifts away into the great nothingness of beyond.


The story you have just read is based on a true life story. The only cases of extinction noted throughout history that were not caused by humans themselves, are those cases in which a species specializes to such a degree as to become inadaptable to new or changing environments. Specialization is a symptom of the blind pursuit of perfect contentment. Those species that can focus a healthy portion of discontent into new discoveries are those that stand the best chance of survival in a universe that is never itself content. Not to mention its a hell of a lot more fun than wandering this sole planet like insects awaiting the queens signal to self destruct.






Spirit Quest

When I was younger it was a habit of mine to experiment with psychedelic drugs. I felt that these experiences opened up new vistas of thought and creativity within me. It had been years such I had done such a drug, until a few months ago. What I found was that the experience no longer opened up any new doors of perception from which to step into brave new worlds. However, it did reawaken the desire for me to re-explore the limits of my own thinking apparatus. I considered many alternatives from meditative yoga to sensory deprivation, but none of these appealed to me because they seemed to lack extremity. I recalled several books I had read, fiction and non-fiction, on Native American cultures. One of the things that always fascinated me most was the spirit quests in which an individual would fast in isolation until they were visited by their totem spirit guide. This was generally an animal of some sort that represented an individual’s link with the natural and/or spirit world. Why I didn’t necessarily believe in the religious aspects of the ritual, I saw how such an action could open the mind to new insights.

I spent two weeks making preparations for the outing. Although most Native American cultures used the spirit quest, they tended to vary in their pattern from tribe to tribe. Instead of choosing just one of the many, I attempted to blend these customs while personalizing it with my own ideas. The plan was to spend six nights and seven days alone in an isolated patch of forest without food or water. Actually I originally planned to take along a flask for emergency purposes, to be used only in a life or death situation. I read about the human bodies limitations regarding food and water, and decided that I was pushing the envelope. I didn’t want to die in this experiment. I decided to ration out a very minute portion of water each day to prevent total dehydration, while still allowing the lack of fluid to push me over the edge of normal bodily functioning.

Only one friend was willing to help me with my journey, the others were all too afraid for my safety to participate. The plan was that my friend would drive me the location and hike into the woods with me so that he would be able to locate me on the seventh day. I explained it would most likely be the case that I would need physical and mental assistance getting out of the woods. The night before I was to leave I visited with family and my closest friends. Those who were not aware of my plan were not made aware as I didn’t wish to alarm anybody. I then prepared letters and a will should anything unexpected occur during the outing. Finally I went to my favorite restaurant and ate an entire plate of Pad Thai. I should not have done that. The large meal stretched my stomach and would make the fast more difficult, as I learned later. I was careful not to drink any alcoholic beverages, as I didn’t wish to dehydrate prematurely.

The final preparation was to secure tobacco, and a carving knife to make a ceremonial pipe, such as been used in the Native American spirit quests. I set to bed early, but hardly slept a week all night due to anticipation. The next morning before the sun rose, we began the hour drive to the large wooded area I had chosen. When we arrived dawn had just received the day and the sun lit our way through the forest canopy. We hiked a few miles into the woods to an area I felt I would be left undisturbed in. My plan, were I to encounter hikers or such, was just to hide to avoid contact with other humans. My friend bid me some encouraging words and then left me alone with the flora and fauna of the forest.

The first day I was very eager, for what I did not know. I had used fallen branches to create a large circle which I would be confined to. I studied my surroundings, and tried the best I could to name all of the plants and trees I saw. It was obvious I did not know many, and I made a promise to familiarize myself with such knowledge after the excursion. Only in the evening did the hunger become a distraction, but it was not yet bad as it would get, I knew.

After a mostly uneventful day I fell asleep early nestled in a nest fashioned from dried leaves. I dreamt about a spiral staircase, which I climbed both up and down in seemingly infinite stretches without ever reaching anything. When I awoke to birdsong, I interpreted that the spiral staircase of my dreams represented not only DNA, but the spiraling nature of our infinite universe, in which there was no beginning or end.

Upon awaking I allowed myself half of my daily water ration. After that I began looking for a branch from which to carve my ceremonial pipe from. The Native Americans always spoke about finding a piece of wood that spoke to them and revealed the shape waiting to remain when all excess was stripped away. I looked for such a branch, but determined after several hours that I could not hear wood. So I picked a piece that seemed easy to carve due to a lack of knots. I spent most of the day slowly whittling away on the piece of wood, and what finally emerged was a crude but working pipe whose stem and bowl could be separated. I located some juniper berries and used them to dye the pipe, and then I thought to attach some feathers I had found using thin strips of soft bark, but the result was ridiculous and the adornments were removed.

As darkness fell I finished the other half of my daily water portion, and entertained myself by singing as many songs as I could remember the words to. I fell asleep to the sound of owls protesting my rendition of Paul McCartney’s ‘Band on the Run’. That night I dreamt of clouds that could coagulate into the imagined forms I saw within them. For whatever reasons many of these forms were cartoon characters I had remembered from my childhood.

Awaking the next morning on the third day, I could find no meaning within my dream. The third day started with severe hunger pains. As I had the morning before I immediately drank half of my daily water ration. I found it difficult to focus on anything but my hunger. I didn’t have the luxury of the previous day’s activity to occupy my time and my thoughts, or the enthusiasm of the first day. I paced within my circle into the afternoon. As the afternoon went on my will to continue faded rapidly. I cursed my self for setting upon this course of action with no plan for escape. I continually thought if I could just eat but one little insignificant cracker, everything would be okay. I realized the pacing made the hunger worse and sat down at the edge of the circle staring into the woods. I noticed something out there, a sight familiar from my childhood. It was a gooseberry bush. I knew it was early in the season so the plant would not be incredibly fruitful, nor its fruit ripe yet. I began to make every excuse I could to justify leaving my circle and breaking my fast with these berries. Before sundown I convinced myself it would be okay to eat a few of the berries. I picked about a dozen berries and ate them rapidly, and washed them down with the second half of my water ration.

Somewhat satisfied I lay down in my nest and recalled favorite stories until I fell asleep late into the night. That night I was aware of several short dreams, but did not remember any of them. I slept in a little later on the fourth day, and fought every attempt of my body to awaken until it could be put off no longer. It must have been shortly after noon. I had gotten confident in my ability to gauge time during the day by the suns position overhead. I drank my usual water and tried to think of something to occupy my time. My mind was over-ridden with doubts about this spirit quest. I became angry at myself. Within a few hours I decided to ditch the whole experiment. I would gather several handfuls of berries drink plenty of water and hike back to the road and hitchhike home away from this nightmare. I was eating the berries as fast as I could pick them and washing them down with my canteens contents. I must have eaten three dozen or so berries and consumed all but a day’s ration of water when I was inextricably stricken with feelings of shame and remorse at my own weakness. I went back to my circle, lay in my nest and cried for what seemed an eternity without emotional or mental content. Somewhere in this catharsis my resolve to continue went on. As I began regaining control of myself, I considered forcing myself to vomit the berries up, but I knew this would increase the danger of dehydration. I reassessed my situation. I knew I could survive the remainder of the trip with no water. I also realized that while I had broken my fast, the three dozen or so berries were really quite inconsequential as far as nourishment goes. I might still experience some revelation in my time left. I began to doubt very much I would meet with a spirit guide, but I thought the experience would still teach something useful.

I sang songs of my own devising late into the night. I sang songs to the moon and the stars and all of the plants and animals that lived in the forest. I sang songs to those who came before me and those who would follow after. I sang songs of beauty, love and joy. I sang late into the night and into the early morning until I sang myself asleep. That night I dreamt of a civilization of intelligent humanoids called Dandrites who had evolved from a single speck of my own dandruff. Within this relatively short dream I dreamt the entire course of Dandrite existence from beginning to end. I dreamt of the experiences and cultures of Dandrites in different regions. I even dreamed of some Dandrites who were my favorite throughout their history. The dream spanned millions of years, but in my reality lasted probably only an hour or so.

When I awoke the fifth day it was just before noon. I was thirsty, but the aching for food and water was only a dull undertone. It was as if it was merely a symptom of my body but no longer part of my conscious or subconscious desire. The need to cheat my fast had subsided and I began to accept the environment on its own terms and not as a barrier to my expectations. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and other animals no longer seemed to move about frenetically. I saw them living within their own patterns, related to, but independent from human ideas about time. I realized their apparent scurrying was only them reacting to their life spans. I envisioned the squirrel accumulated just as many experiences in its life as I did in my relatively longer life. The sun was bright, even through the tree cover.

Occasionally I would stare into the sun, mesmerized, before becoming alert to the danger involved. Each time as my eyes retreated from our nearby star, my vision was flooded with the rods and cones that make up our sight. At the time, however, I did not think of them in these concrete scientific terms. Instead I saw them as subatomic particles floating about the atom that was my eye. Lost in these thoughts I unknowingly returned my gaze upon the sun. Revelations collided! Now the sun was the nuclear center (nucleus) of an atom in which all other things in our solar system from life to matter were merely subatomic particles. It followed in my mind that many solar systems (atoms) combined would make up a galaxy which was like a cell, which when combined made up the single body of our universe. By god, a God! Universe. And we are merely its most minute constituents acting out our part to preserve the body of the divine. What then of the cells that made up our bodies, our matter? Did this process repeat itself fractally in both directions micro and macro? Was there no end to small or large, infinity to oblivion? Or were these all just incomplete thoughts, confined by the apparatus of my perceptional and analytical capabilities? I saw at once that all truth I manufactured would be just that, manufactured. If the closest thing to a perfect thought could be so flawed, what then of the thought of a perfect thought? I began laughing hysterically. I had the sensation that I was not an individual within Universe laughing, but an individual tuned into and channeling the laughter of Universe. I grokked in fullness. Who is the great master who makes the grass green!

When at last I bifurcated from the laughter of Universe, I noticed it was nearly dusk. All of the thoughts of the day seemed to occur within mere moments, but in truth had been stretched out over nine hours or so. Like the other inhabitants of this forest, my pattern of time was no longer conforming to human standard. I wondered if this changed my very nature. Was I still myself or a new probable version of myself? The thought ‘probable’ sent me spiraling into yet another aspect of awareness. Was the very idea of individuality, of nurture and nature, completely flawed? Was it that I was not simply a product of my meat and its experiences, but a function of probability? I did not confuse this thought with destiny. Destiny is predetermined. Were all things simply a function of probability, playing out every possible action and generating experiences to fill the void of curiosity of Universe? If so could people and their actions not be labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but merely probable? Was Universe and eternally cyclical infant learning from its discoveries and mistakes? What then of those who acted in deviant ways. Did they weaken the overall cells structure and thus compromise the health of the universe. Could misaligned egotistical beings create a sort of cancer in the flesh of Universe? After thinking these thoughts I realized the prejudice or polarity of my thinking that labeled cancer as ‘bad’. Would not the learning process of the divine require obscenity as well as beauty? I mulled over the idea of my life being a matrix of probabilities acting in the interest of a single grandeur intelligence. Universe!

Some time later I fell asleep. I did not dream. When I awoke at dawn I did not wake into the consciousness of my being. I was a disembodied spectator observing a narrating the experiences of my flesh. From such and angle I was poised in front of and above, looking down upon myself. A peculiar thing occurred in my observation. The ‘self’ I looked upon was a two dimensional image. It was as though physical reality was a cartoon, and perched above the vision of myself was a thought bubble of the like used in comic strips. It said, quite simply, ‘ACME’.

Immediately the barrier between myself and my disembodied consciousness dissolved. The next thought did not belong to me, and it said, “How I feel, now know you.” I should not have recognized that voice, for it belonged to a fictional entity that had never been given a function such as speech. The revelation of its identity was tantamount with significance of its appearance. I had found my spirit guide, and it was none other than Wile E. Coyote.

“Of the nature of existence, insight you have gained. But of the self, much have you to learn.” It was Wile E. Coyote, now standing right before my eyes. All of our surroundings were two dimensional replications of reality like a cartoon. Rather than the lush forest, we were now in a desert sitting upon a cliff overlooking a highway. “To be knowing of all things and their futility is a truth, but tis not a lesson from which the will of action benefits.” Wile E. Coyote, my spirit guide, talked just like Yoda. He went on. “Not a proper motivation for action or inaction is futility.”

After saying so much he lifted an anvil that had recently materialized and dropped it over the cliff to the road far below. I looked over the cliff, and though faint, recognized below The Roadrunner eating a pile of birdseed Wile E. had left there as bait. No paying attention to the scene below, Wile E. spoke to me again.

“Because meaningless our lives may be in the scheme grand, means not our lives are to ourselves meaningless.” As Wile E. spoke these words, The Roadrunner had noticed the anvil and exchanged places with a trampoline that had not existed moments earlier. The anvil hit its new target and was sent careening back to its place of origin. “Undefeatable The Roadrunner may be, but of this truths essence, my will is not.” The anvil came arcing overhead with great speed and hit the wise but blustering cartoon coyote on the head. It bounced up and down repeatedly striking Wile E. and pushing him further down into the ground with each blow. Just before the final blow sent his head beneath the rock surface he spoke his last words to me. “Thus is life.”

Having met my spirit guide, I felt spiritually renewed. I removed my pipe, put it together, and loaded it. I took long drags and turned in a circle blowing smoke in all directions and offering the smoke as a gift to Universe and all that I held sacred. The smoke carried my prayers far away, eventually dissipating and becoming part of all things. I sat still for many hours interpreting the truths my spirit guide had shown me. Although there really was no meaning to life, there was no reason to live under such a pretense. Life would only be as meaningful as I lived it, and to live was to live without fear, hatred or greed. Universe was not mine to use, but ours to share. Peacefully, under two thirds of a moon and millions of stars, I fell asleep.

You’ll Never Take My Pyfe!

you'll never take my pyfe

Natalie ran through the forest as fast as she could with the monster right behind her. The monster gave a loud roar and snapped his sharp fangs and claws at the air towards her. She picked up her pace and with a great leap jumped another couple of yards ahead of the beast. To this the ogre roared even louder and began to pounce at her. Distracted by its anger, the monster caught its toe under a fallen limb and its great leap turned into a disastrous tumble.

“You’ll never take my Pyfe!” Natalie yelled through the laughter she made at the clumsy monster. She gave one last big push and managed to get far enough away from the fiend that it disappeared. Once the scary oafs got far enough away they ceased to be. A monster you can not see does not exist.

She felt in her pocket to make sure she still had her precious Pyfe as she always did every couple of minutes. It was her very own Pyfe and she would never let anyone take it from her. Comforted by it’s security, Natalie took her hand from her pocket and began to sing. While she did so she found some berry bushes and stopped to pick some of the sweet, juicy morsels. As she filled her pockets with the fruit she heard a meow nearby. Following the source of the sound she came across a black kitten.

“Hello Mr. Crowley.” she said, naming the cat as an introduction. “I am your princess. I am the princess of all of these lands and the sacred guardian of the Pyfe. Do you have any candy?”

The cat purred and rubbed itself against her leg but did not offer any candy or a reply to her request.

“Well, nonetheless,” she declared, “I shall make you a knight and you shall join me on my adventures.”

The cat gave a quizzical meow and leaned into her little hands as she stroked his back gently. She tried to give the cat one of her berries but the cat was even more confused by this and instead spun a half dozen circles chasing its tail. Natalie laughed at the silly cat, ate a few of the berries herself, and then began on her merry way once more.

“Come on, Sir Crowley.” she commanded with a royal air and the cat began to follow her if only out of curiosity.

The two of them walked for a few hours before its started to show signs of getting dark soon. Natalie did not particularly like being alone in the woods after dark, and even though her knightly companion was with her, she hoped they would find somewhere cozier to spend the night than in the cool, musty forest. Somewhere where she and her Pyfe would be safe against monsters.

They eventually found a small cottage in the forest with warm glowing windows and smoke spinning lazily from the chimney. Mr. Crowley ran ahead of her and meowed at the door, but no one answered the kittens tiny yet persistent calls. When Natalie got to the door she gave a few brisk polite knocks. A strange man answered the door. Natalie told the odd man with the weird beard that she hoped he might have a place for her and her brave companion to rest for the night.

“Sure thing, turd bucket.” he answered jovially while smiling and winking at her.

“I am not a turd bucket!” she protested. “You are the turd bucket!”

The man gave a long laugh and she eventually joined him in it. “No. I am the swifty sorceror known around here as Joshua the Wizard. And you would be Princess Natalie. I have been awaiting you. Please come in and make yourself at home, Natalie. And Mr. Crowley, too.”

Joshua the Wizard went to the the kitchen to pour a dish of milk and a glass of chocolate milk for his guests as they explored his main living space. There were musical instruments and typewriters and pencils, markers and paints all over the place. This place was like a workshop of creativity. When the wizard returned to the room Natalie asked him, “What is this place?”

“This,” he said, “is my Pyfe.”

Natalie was startled. How did the wizard know about her Pyfe, she wondered? As far as she knew there was only one Pyfe and it was hers. Suddenly she was scared.

“You’ll never take my Pyfe!” she reckoned with as much force as she could muster.

“Nope.” Joshua beamed at her. Then giggling he went on. “I will never take your Pyfe and you can never take mine. Everybody has their very own Pyfe and though some peoples are bigger than others nobody can take or keep another persons Pyfe. Ever.”

Grasping her pocket she asked suspiciously, “Really?

“Really.” he said nodding at her comfortingly.

“Why not?” Natalie wondered aloud.

“Because your Pyfe is just your imagination.” the wizard answered.

“No.” the girl protested. “My Pyfe is real.” She pulled it out of her pocket and watched the mesmerizing shimmer in its seemingly infinite surface.

Joshua the Wizard looked closely into her hand. He did not see anything.

“There is nothing there, Natalie.” he spoke at last. “Only you can see your own imagination. It is not a thing.”

“Then how can this be your Pyfe that we are standing in?” she questioned proudly, thinking she had seen through the wizards game.

“This is just a story, Natalie. It came from my imagination. I wrote it when you were just a little girl and you used to run around yelling- ‘You’ll never take my Pyfe!’ for no apparent reason. It was just your imagination. So I brought you here into this story, into one of the many worlds of my imagination, to remind you all of your life that even though your imagination is not real the things in your imagination can become real if you use them to make stories, poems, paintings, sculptures, songs or whatever your imagination can conjure them out of. That is why we are here and that is what makes life beautiful.”

Joshua went on, “Just as you now hold the spark of your imagination in your hand and begin to learn what it is, someday your Pyfe may be as big as mine, encompassing all kinds of people and places real and imaginary combined. Or even bigger! Maybe someday you can use yours to write your own niece or nephew a story, or write them a song, or even paint them a picture to always remind them how important their imagination is and that nobody can ever take it from them.”

Mr. Crowley meowed in delight at the wizard and Natalie smiled a smile as big as she possibly could and jumped into the wizards arms with a surprise hug that seemed to delight him as much as startle him. The kitten climbed at their legs trying to join their embrace when suddenly Natalie pulled away from the wizard and looked at him very gravely, then…

“THEY’LL NEVER TAKE MY PYFE!” she yelled out as loud as she could, and her and the wizard and the cat all laughed for a very, very long time.