Father & son go to the Zen library

They are like two apple branches, this boy and his father. Between them there is an ocean state of darkness as they walk on the road to the library together holding hands, for there is more knowledge in this world today than time enough to discover it all. The father has a keen awareness of this feeble grasping for the unknown that truly has no ending, but the boy knows nothing yet of how generals can shape history with their thoughts or the difficulties of trying to thread a needle by the light of a flickering candle flame, much less all the tangled circles of ideas that need to be unravelled before ever reaching enlightenment.

The boy had cried the last time they visited the library because the father made the mistake of reading to him from a storybook about an angel who loses her fingertip when she tries too hard to pull the moon from the sky. As the angel’s effort becomes fruitless, tiny drops of her blood stain the book’s pages and drip onto the library floor, causing the boy to cry. Today, the father decides, they’ll try a different story, the one he likes about a little girl who has red ribbons braided in her curls and wears a paper dress printed with news stories. Every night after she unfurls the ribbons from her hair, she cleans the day’s news from her dress with an eraser and folds and tucks it neatly into an envelope. Then she carefully places both the envelope and the ribbons inside her dresser drawer before she slipsĀ into bed to dream.

As the father and son turn the pages together, there are pink bits from the little girl’s eraser falling onto the floor instead of drops of blood. Even the father enjoys reading the story because it reminds him of his classes long ago when school used to be a simple pleasure. He remembers when there were pencils with erasers and mistakes and blackboards and how chalk dust filled the air after his teacher would clap two erasers together whenever she finished a lesson. No one cared then about bilocating or learning how to walk on water or how to create those endless loaves and fishes. Back when he was a boy, it was hard enough just to learn how to write your name in cursive.

But there had been so much progress in his lifetime. The knowledge of humanity was doubling and compounding daily. Miracles were commonplace. Even love and faith were no longer uncharted mysteries. And salvation could be found on the top shelf of almost any supermarket. But the irony was a cup of coffee cost a fortune because who wanted to be bothered with learning a mundane manifestation like a simple cup of coffee with two sugars and a cream? If this was a blessing or a curse, he didn’t know. He was just content to spend this long afternoon reading in the silence of the library with his son before the sun and the moon pulled the tides of their lives in opposite directions.