A white house standing upon a hill, a spark unmuted by the greys of a storm-riven sky. The greens of the grass and bush a dark and deep shade, details hidden from all eyes. A white house tall and rising, up with the slope of the earth, windows looking out to catch the view. Glass reflects speeding clouds above, sent by winds which bring a seagull inland from a far shore. A wooden deck around the home, a landing place for a bird in winter or in spring. Here are windows looking in, and a gull that wishes to see.
Seen through high windows the room is broad and deep. A long table, set about with chairs, and maps on the wall whose colours make distinctions in an almost-random pattern. A ray of sunlight catches on golden hair, a young woman who stares at far away cities on a wall.
So many places. I want to see them all.
And so you shall, in time. A tall man, sitting casually on
the table, feet resting on a chair.
Travel is a voyage of the mind
as much as of the body. Thousands of pilgrims travel every year to the
sacred places of the world, impelled not by their legs but by their
hearts. They strive to find what others have found, and bring it back,
more than they strive to cross the hills and valleys on their
Why don't they stay at home then? She turns from the wall,
Save the aches of the body to improve the
concentration of the mind?
Do you see a different view each day, sitting in the same chair?
Does your imagination create ex
nihilo? Does a hot day and no drink conjure up the crossing of
But we have books, books by people who have seen, have been
there, lived there.
They speak to each of us with a different voice. When may we speak
Here is a smaller room, made for a few. Books on the walls, paper on the desk. The woman with golden hair is deep in a soft chair.
Freedom is doing what you want when you want to. Or being able
There is an older woman behind the desk, leaning forward.
Greeks thought differently. They saw freedom in terms of
relationships, politics. Obligations, responsibilities - to their
family, their fellows, the polis - were not the prices of freedom, but freedom
What if you want to be apart from your community? To not have to
worry about other people?
Then you are mad. For the ties that bind are the ties to
greatness, to what is larger and longer lasting - perhaps even
immortal. To ignore responsibility is to disregard law and
civilisation; a descent into barbarism and godlessness.
How could they feel happy under such restrictions?
Does happiness come only from getting your own way? When you
compete, is your effort a poor one if it does not win? They struggled,
and failed, and won, but they had a context in which to act, and to
read the consequences of those actions. One being cannot create as
mighty a thing as many can, but with the support of many one's
greatness may be elevated.
But if you don't want to do something, but have to do it anyway,
then where's the good in that?
Do you begrudge the universe the life you have? You are young,
mind and body growing. One day you will grow old, and then die. Where
is the good in that? You are looking in the wrong place for joy and
contentment; the action does not have the power to make you
Golden hair against rich brown, a door carved to impress.
I'm tired of this place, of doing the same things, seeing the
same people. There's no excitement any more, no adventure. I need to
Where has the excitement gone? An ancient man, short and
bald, peering up.
I don't know. I just feel hemmed in - I'm sick of having stuff
to do, answering questions, being asked questions. It's like everyone
here owns me. I'm not a child!
What do you wish to do?
Nothing! Anything! Just get away from here, go out into the real
world. I can take care of myself.
If you go out that door, leave here right now, you won't be an
adult. You'll be a young woman trying to be an adult.
Better than stay here and not even try.
Can you not be an adult here?
You guys won't let me!
The man shrugs slowly.
Only one person here has the power to
stop you. None of us has the desire to.
A narrow window by the stairs, for a glimpse of trees and light beyond the hills. A momentary revelation, lost with another step.
A red scarf tied about bright hair.
That's the thing - there are no boundaries here, no
divisions. No one who says,
You've finished, you're
Another young woman, sharing the view.
But that's what's so good
- you just go on, continuing with what you were doing, or starting
something new, and being able to go back to things. It's like a giant
adventure playground, only with most of it in your
That's just it - we play in the playground, but they also watch
over us. They exist apart, at least to a degree. What makes them
different? What if I want to leave the playground? How do I go where
What do you mean? Why are you interested in that stuff - it's
not fun at all!
I can't live forever without it. I need to progress, to move on
to something bigger. I have progressed, I just don't know how
to catch up to myself. It's like Alice and the Red Queen.
A library, large and crowded; books and people. Glasses of wine, nibbles, talk and laughter. Gold on book spines, gilt on the edges of thousands of pages. Gold hair standing before many seated figures.
I feel now as a Pythagorean may have felt on the approach of death. It is saying goodbye and hello at the same time. Departing one form, one life, to enter another - a calamitous change, but something remains constant. I'm excited and sad and a little afraid.
I cannot thank you all enough for what you have done for me. You gave me everything. That you are all here, to wish me farewell, is such a surprise and joy. I cannot ask for anything more than the love you have always given.
The old man, cane in support as he moves forward, picks at a
pendant about his neck.
Do you suppose that there's not a last
lesson I can give you? Do not worry, it is brief, and there will not
be another. You have lived with us for many years now, growing
stronger and stronger, filling our lives with your presence. Now your
vision spreads beyond these walls, to places we do not see. We cannot
watch over you as we have - for which you are now surely grateful. But
before you go, here is our greatest gift.
He takes the pendant from around his neck, places it about hers.
If you have any doubts that you cannot do what you wish to do, that
you are not yet ready to find what you wish to seek, may this remove
them for you. As you have looked up to us, now see that you are to be
looked up to, that you are as we are. We will always be with
The woman watches him return to his seat.
I said before that I
was afraid, afraid of the change that was about to take place. That
fear is no longer there, and almost I wish to stay. But there are
places I wish to see, and I will see them now. I have no more words
but these: I am not leaving this place. I am going somewhere
The dark outside the white house is almost complete. The gull pauses on the rail of the deck, tapping it with one webbed foot. The wind is strong at the top of the hill; it takes no effort to open its wings and rise into the sky, tumbling upwards. Then with strong flaps the bird moves steadily out to sea.