There Is No Other Way

Everything is born in pain that sees the light of day. There is no method without tears; there is no other way.

To grow and learn, to empathize, you need to suffer first. Through indignity we recognize the world at its worst.

There is no origin without sadness, no birth without its pangs. The anti-matter battle started right after the big bang.

We floated for endless summers, phytoplankton in the warm ocean of our new Earth. We hummed along, in resonance with the ebb of the moon-tugged waters we called home. We rested there; memories of old supernovae echoing in our being, the heavier elements of our consciousness settled like sediment in a silty river bed.

The violence started abruptly, with the first multi-cellular organism to realize it could eat. We hungered for flesh, dripped blood from fangs, and howled with delirious rage. The Cambrian explosion, they called it later, but I called it lunch, and I loved ripping their throats out of their necks unless I was born a runt, lost my mother and saw my father whimper as they ate him.

We organized in loss, the agony of a dead child and the rage against an indifferent world. We hummed hymns to the stars for those we lost, and wished the world had some order like those same stars we left behind. We formed a battle line to chase the beasts away from our dead, and held each other in our blood and grief.

We painted pictures that summer, with juice from the red berries in the patch behind the watering hill. The wise man from a nearby tribe told us if we held our eyes just right, we could see Grandpa cresting over the hill at nights, come back to remind us to hold our thumbs straight as we chip flint arrowheads, and tie them to the shafts with care. Grandpa always told us to take the time to do it right, and as we grew older, that made more and more sense to us.

The first city I was king of was a slave hub, where we bought and sold human beings and other animals. For a good strong man, you’d get about enough for half an ox, or maybe a few jars of oil. We built the walls high, ostensibly to keep out raiders, but really to make sure the slaves would find it harder to murder us in our sleep. We were all afraid of something — the slaves of starving or being beaten, the merchants of being robbed, and the nobles of being cast out, tortured or simply losing face. The streets were a river of horse shit and the place reeked of urine — but we also had a library where scribes marked on clay tiles, in the way that scribes do. We had a court there, with laws that tried to be fair, and there was even a guy that did puppet shows until he was mugged and left for dead. At night, from a distance, it looks like a bunch of flickering orange stars fell to the earth and called it home. Up close, it’s ugly, sure — but from a distance, on horseback, you’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.

The cities grew, our Kingdom rose, and time moved ever on.
 As entropy unpacked itself, our meaning had long gone.

From cubicles we’ve watched our lives escape themselves away. 
Our boredom is the prize we’ve won, and wish to give away.

Our meaning is created now — the choice is up to us:

Will we sublime up to the stars — or slowly turn to rust?

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