Ahonu and Aingeal’s writing group, March 6th 2017, Bend, Oregon

The 45-minute prompt comes from The Reincarnation of Columbus chosen by Ahonu, random page 92, random line 7

She wanted this couple to be comfortable but more importantly, she wanted them to stay long enough for us to get all the answers we needed so desperately.

Charles LeRoy Scamahorn’s feeble effort.

Charles asked, what is the real question behind the question, “What is it that you need to know and do to help another person be comfortable?” Everyone often says they are seeking happiness and comfort, and many of them go to hear an off-the-cave-wall reply from some guy with long hair pulled into a ponytail, or perhaps left to grow and flow and get horribly tangled, or perhaps wearing some really weird clothes, or perhaps sitting near naked conspicuously situated in the middle of the marketplace, or sometimes living in a barrel, sometimes on a tall column, sometimes standing on a box with a hangman’s noose around his neck in Hyde park in London. All of those gurus are giving us their truths, giving us their ultimate realizations spoken from a place more extreme than a normal person’s moment of personal desperation.

The wild words come from those who not only know they are going to die in the long run, in the abstract distant future, but now. These are the people speaking from the edge of oblivion and they know it’s their time to vanish into the void of eternity and for them, it’s now.  Right NOW. Their end will come right at the moment they finish this sentence, perhaps even before they finish it, perhaps this very inst … !

Are these desperate folks at the moment of their death giving us the answers we need for living our daily lives?

And yet … what do they know that is going to be helpful to us, to me? Probably I’m not going to die in this very instant. After all, I’m in good health and statistically, I have maybe ten years to live, and if I act on the advice these desperate people are offering me in their last moment of life, most of my future life is going to be miserable. If I live every instant for instant gratification all my money will soon be gone and I may be living in a barrel being rolled around the town square, or if I satisfy my instant desire for candy or sex or other people’s fancy stuff I will soon find myself about to be killed for my moment of instant self-gratification for violating someone else’s rights and the local laws.

The answers we will probably find most helpful are not the ones spoken by those people living at their extreme moments, but from those people who have found the way to sustain comfortable lives. Thus it appears more reasonable to turn away from those with considerable experience in desperation and seek out those living in tranquility and humor. To talk with mild mannered people in coffee shops about the things they enjoy doing, and not spend much time with the guy hung over a liquor bar, or living in a barrel, or standing on an executioner’s box. Oh, yes, we can occasionally listen for a few minutes but then walk away and go to our garden and grow some vegetables and flowers. Or go to a social gathering where people are working on a public works project, building a new highway, or fixing potholes in the old highway. That is, to seek out and find people who are doing something that they enjoy doing for the whole community’s good and something that everyone can participate in with helpful actions. That is, they are not fretting about various personal resentments and social injustices, but are treating their fellow human being better than they treat themselves. They are making everyone’s world a better place by their actions. Perhaps those actions need to be motivated by kind thoughts, but it is the external actions that have the meaning. Thoughts and feelings that are not expressed in actions go to the grave if the actions are not completed.

Seeking and getting the pleasure of instant gratification, while exerting no personal effort, may work for an instant, but that instant will soon pass and be followed by difficulty and the confusion of trying to bring on another moment of unearned pleasure.

Experiencing unearned pleasure is the path to permanent pain.