• Jake West

The Man in the Cave

I wonder who first thought to write a word. To extend verbal language into a written system. The man, and yes, it was probably a man who decided that speaking may not be enough. 

Sitting in his cave alone, the man probably stumbled upon this idea. With ink in one hand and paper in the other, the man sat in his cave and considered making the first sentence. No, the first word… the first letter even. Anything. He wanted to, but this is a hard task. Being the first is never easy. And before he wrote, he began to think. 

He, who took the first attempt of writing sound, probably took a second and then looked around. Unsure, he wondered if a noise, could be encapsulated without the use of his mois. Whether words could flow from the page, or if they were bound within a cage. And if he did find a way for words to flow, who would care to know?

He may have then thought that written language didn’t have to be a thing of beauty, but instead practicality. He wondered if he could use words to describe the size of the deer that he brought home just days ago? Could he write down the size of its antlers, and use that to compare to the one that he killed the previous month? And with these comparisons could he record his biggest set of antlers ever? But what is a record worth, if not even he can remember what the deer looked like? If the record was years ago, then could he even picture them? He wondered about the value of words that we have no memory of.

But this was all fine for the man. Not ideal, but workable he told himself. Then he wouldn’t think about its lack of beauty and he wouldn’t bother to record because he thought there must be more. Writing was the gateway to the unknown. With written words, sentences could be structured. They could be planned and organized. In a neat, concise fashion he was convinced the world could be written about, and then understood.

Determined and confident, the man looked out from his cave in search of insight. His eyes found his son. Playing in the knee-high grass, his son knelt down and felt every blade of bright, healthy green in between his finger-tips. Slowly moving his hands across the tips of each delicate vegetation, the wide-eyed boy listened to the sound of each piece of grass move ever so slightly as his hands flowed through them. And with his ear to the blades themselves, he listened to the sound of the Earth rotating on its axis. Listening to the Earth be tugged around and around, the son was just about to feel sorry for the Earth as a gust of breeze flew through the field. 

Moving much like a lion pouncing on its prey, the breeze came in and blew the boy onto his back. Laughing in delight, the son rose back to his knees and listened as the breeze played its song. Using the grass as its instrument, the rattling of thousands of individual tiny plants began to move in a chaotic harmony. Pressuring one another to listen to the commands of the breeze, much like a conductor with an orchestra, the blades of grass pushed and pulled on each other to create a gentle sound only experience can tell you about. 

And that’s when the man in his cave knew what he needed to do. Putting the pen and paper down, the man joined his son in the field. 

Organization wasn’t the gateway to understanding the world. That cage his words would be trapped within would be unrelenting. Restricted from the very world they were attempting to generate, the man knew his words would be bound to the paper they lay upon. 

The decision was his to make, and only his. Would he spend his days in the cave writing about his son, or would he spend them in the field with his son? 

Laying down next to his son, the breeze continued to orchestrate the blades of grass, in a melody for them, and only them, to hear.

Image Credit: http://cdn.tinybuddha.com/

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