The Sea of Discards

It was a night like any other: Anna, exhausted from running around, collapsed into a deep, but broken sleep. She drifted from one dream to another, but of the worlds Anna visited that night, one would stand out to her from all the rest. In it, a dream character based on some figure from her past, a typical dream phenomena, congratulated Anna on being among a few select people saying, “many are called, but few are chosen.” Although Anna didn’t quite understand for what exactly she had been chosen, it seemed to her that it had to do with moving forward. And with that the dream character spun Anna round and pushed her away.

Anna found herself in, or rather, on a sea.  It wasn’t the sort of sea she knew in the physical realm, but an expanse of ether, upon which Anna, to her delight, was capable of gliding. She immediately started out in pursuit of what exactly she did not know. In her way, however, were people in what looked to be suspended animation, stuck thigh deep in the sea; as Anna drew closer these captive beings begged and grabbed, desperate to break free from the clear sea which seemed to be holding them back. Some looked impoverished, starved and clad in rags; others were beaten with lumps and wells all over their bodies; they all looked pitiful and somewhat frightening.

Haunted by the pleas of these unfortunates, Anna carefully stood just out of reach of one such creature to hear his cry. “Help me, if only you would just help me. You can’t leave me here. How can you go forward and leave me like this? You must help me. It’s not my fault.” Standing safely away from him, Anna stared into the applicant’s eyes. His pleas, although sounding very genuine, didn’t match the corners of his eyes, which, as he spoke were dancing coldly. Seeing as well as hearing him, Anna began to sense that even if she did stop to help this captive man, he wouldn’t be willing to help himself. She moved back a little and considered it: I feel bad for him, but he doesn’t really want to be helped; if that were so, he wouldn’t trap himself in there like that. Anna began to understand that if she did stay and help him he would take all her energy, yet fail to become a better man, holding Anna back too. They would simply be stuck in limbo together, living in some sort of suspended animation, thought Anna, just like the one he’s in now. She felt bad for him, but could not choose that fate for herself: Anna pulled back and continued on her way, waking up into the darkness of night, sitting up in her bed.

Is she selfish for not wanting to sacrifice herself for fellow man, tossing aside that ultimate ideal of selflessly wasting oneself at the mercy and for the pleasure of another? It was a question Anna had laboured over for as long as she could remember.

Anna had always wanted to help others: she thought if she could just make them see from her perspective then maybe they might change things. So, a young Anna asked questions of everyone around her: why did they say or do the things they did? Wasn’t there perhaps a better way to do this or that? More often then not, however, Anna’s interference was unwelcome.

As a child Anna was derided by students and teachers alike for being bossy, insensitive and unbending. She didn’t allow for the opinions of others at the dawn of the everyone’s-a-winner age, when each person’s individuality, or conformity as the case might be, was just as good as the next. Thus the opinions of everyone had to be tolerated, no matter how shallow, materialistic or egotistical they may be. In fact, those approaches were most accommodated; it was those, such as Anna’s, which saw hypocrisy and futility in most of the things children were being trained to do, that were least accepted.

In response to Anna’s questioning, the tables, from the point of view of those who were questioned, were turned. After all, who did she think she was? She certainly wasn’t perfect herself, not nearly enough to ask questions of our characters. Nor did she have any sort of exemplary alternative for us to follow. She just didn’t know what she was talking about.

Although Anna had for a long time taken these reactions personally, she eventually came to see its source: everything a person holds dear is related to himself, her person, and his ego. You are what your name is and what others have told you that you should be, based on genetics, nature, gender, age or circumstance. It’s all locked up in a patterned bubble and nurtured, cherished as the permanent, yet fragile composition of me. Anything that threatens that prized treasure must be attacked, destroyed, whatever it takes to stop it from dissolving me. And so, people of whom Anna asked questions, felt that Anna was personally attacking them and, unconsciously, felt compelled to immediately, and personally, attack her back.

The backlash, from Anna’s attempts to share what she saw, was not without consequence. Even though Anna came to realise why people reacted to her so, she still felt that she must personally be at fault. Clearly there was something wrong with her. Fortunately for Anna, this pushed her just far enough back into herself to discover that all this interaction, questioning the world around her, had caused Anna to develop her own little self that would, at times, demand to be heard. It caused a pattern of reactions over the years upon which renewed reflection horrified Anna. She was ashamed by the ways in which she had treated people, and also, how she had allowed herself to be treated. Episodes of pettiness spotted her past, and threatened the present. Anna thus embarked upon her first journey, to chart herself.

At the time, then, of encountering the sea of discards, Anna had, as a result of this journey into self, come to understand not just herself but also the world around her a little better. Anna’s ability to observe things with as quiet an ego as possible, just watching things as they unfold, combined with an increasingly diverse breadth of experiences, led Anna to believe that the world was in a pretty bad state. In fact, it was on the brink of collapse and try as she might to explain to others, no one would accept her projections.

She sat in her bed, wondering about the dream from which she had just awoken.

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