Today’s prompt comes from Ethan, who I also am unaware of having any social media I can link to.
Unfortunately after trying to set up a nice queue so I could have steady content, just one day later and I hit some pretty severe writers block. It’s not that the prompt is bad or anything, just I couldn’t find anything in my head I wanted to write. This is probably my weakest writing yet on here, but it’s important to me that I at least post something once a day.
Maybe I should take a break to build up a queue, or change to a Mon/Weds/Fri schedule. I’ll think on it, but for now:
“Prompt #10: An entity older than the stars chooses to experience a human lifetime from birth to death, upon their rebirth they seal away all knowledge of their true nature until they have lived long enough to develop into an adult human with a new personality. How does the regaining of this knowledge affect them? What kind of person did they turn out to be? What will they do going forward?”
The world is full of stories like it. Alien beings craving human experience — spirits who hunger for a body so they can live like a mortal, immortals who long to have a short fling and die afterwards, the examples are endless.
Always struck me as a rather anthropocentric view of reality, that human experience is somehow the desirable limit, and that being otherwise was somehow lesser. I remember reading about vampires who couldn’t help lamenting their immortality, or gods who inexplicably desired mortal sex when they were capable of creating beings by plucking their eyebrows, and I was always struck by just how… lazy it felt.
Certainly, I understood that a good story couldn’t be told for a human audience if the characters didn’t have some good emotional hooks for humans to grab, but it felt always kind of… masturbatory to have a narrative gently stroke my ego and whisper “Shhh, it’s okay you’ll die in sixty years on average. There’s nothing more important to life than craving affection, and outliving it is awful.” I’d rather the story stuck to humans for characters than try to sock puppet some ancient entity into saying “yes you, the reader, your species is the best and all my cool shit isn’t as great as dying after a handful or year, or being capable of obsessing over others of my species romantically.”
After a few books, I had grown sick of the trope to the point where even suggesting it in a novel immediately made me roll my eyes. I wanted to experience something new when I read, not just be reassured that I was fine as I was. I couldn’t help but ask why such a being would even care about being human.
And then today happened.
Honestly it came as a surprise to me. I woke up as I did every morning, got out of bed, showered, made breakfast, and went to work. Thirty minutes on the freeway, stuck in traffic and unable to do much more than think. Everything just started trickling in — at first I thought I must have been daydreaming.
I could recall a vast darkness, swirling around a single point of light. I was not alone, but I was unique. In that time I learned ideas, the concept of Self, of Others, of Motion, and of Action. I could see myself floating in the expanse with Others, who were similar but not the same. I wondered why and learned of Experience, that made us into individuals.
In retrospect it was sort of an odd thing to be daydreaming. Very abstract, and not nearly enough of a narrative, or even point. The only moments of thrill were when I learned something new, bright lights sparkling in my mind at each concept mastered. But eventually I hit a limit — my perceptions were narrow, they were mine. I could only understand my form, and how my form worked with the expanse around me.
So I changed my form. From shapelessness I took shape, gave myself tools to manipulate with, eyes to see with, a nose to smell with, fins to swim with, legs to walk with, wings to soar with. With each change I learned and improved. I came to understand form begat function, the subtleties of the rules that governed the world. And yet, I found myself lacking something. No matter how much I experienced, I could not escape the fact my perceptions were influenced by my previous experiment.
And it was at that moment I understood why an ageless immortal being would care to experience humanity.
I was startled out of my daydream by the honk of the car behind me. I was something the English language lacked a word for and… as it turned out it mattered little to what I did. I drove to work, and, well, worked. All that changed was my perception. I had had a chance to experience from nothing once, and then experience again with new context.
It was actually sort of ironic — as it occurred to me later. There wasn’t a grand purpose for it, just an insatiable curiosity, and I was okay with that.