(Continued from part twenty one)
Over the next hour or so, Jens showed me how to find food, water and so on. Everything was similar to our Earth supplies, but none of it identical. The ship had, in the cooking station, a refrigerator, a stove and a sink. Again, they were all close enough to use but not the same. He went on to show me how to control the lighting and the window, the bathroom and the shower. I made a few notes just so I didn’t spend too much mental energy on remembering, but they really weren’t necessary.
Jens also explained that this ship had been a mystery to his world for a long time. It had simply showed up in his star system, empty, spawning some variation of the Flying Dutchman mystery. They had reverse-engineered its course fairly well over the subsequent years, but this visit gave Jens a chance to improve their calculations and follow the ship back more precisely. Maybe even to learn what happened to its crew.
“This is for fun,” he told me, then paused.
“I’m using your terms, now, like ‘just for fun.’ But that’s actually misleading. Fun is a virtue, not a waste. It engages necessary parts of your being and teaches your inner parts to value and express themselves.”
This was a spot where I needed to stop and dig in a bit.
“And by ‘inner parts’ you mean something like ‘subconscious’ or ‘psyche’?”
“Well, all of your terms for this are partial and sloppy. Soul would be a good catch-all, save for the religious dialogs it spawns. I think ‘inner parts’ has the fewest appendage ideas attached, and so I’m using that one.”
I appreciated his care for us and our language, but I was feeling agitated by it. I knew why… it was something I had thought about many times over the years, and with significant discomfort… though I didn’t want to just blurt it out; that struck me as rude or disrespectful. But I should have know that this man would read me deeply enough to see it. He was kind, but nonetheless hyper-advanced compared to us.
“It’s okay,” he said, “this is a good time and place to express what you’re feeling.”
“I’m tired of being a damned monkey!” I said it loudly and with a considerable level of passion. “I want to understand these things… I am capable of understanding them… I don’t want to be always the ignorant brute.”
“You have to know that we don’t look at you as a brute,” he said.
“I know, I know,” I went on, now standing and pacing. “But Jens, I don’t want to be ignorant and undeveloped. I want to understand and to engage in the important things, not to be stuck in a sandbox, playing with baby toys!”
I continued to pace, long enough to notice that he had gone silent. I looked at him and found him crying.
“It’s okay,” he said in a choked-up voice, “I understand… I sympathize.”
I sat next to him and waited. He reached over and held my hand. And I could literally feel some sort of benevolent substance running from him into me.
“In your book, Paul, you wrote about being half-way between homo erectus and full growth, did you not?” He was still holding my hand, still emanating the benevolent substance.
“Then I’d like you to understand that I am less than half-way between where you are and full growth. I haven’t experienced frustration to the extent that you do, but I’ve felt it nonetheless. Please believe me that if I could make it all better for you, I would.”
Then I started crying. “I believe you,” I pushed out.
The two of us sat there for a bit, then began regathering ourselves. Jens found two towels in a drawer, wet them, handed one to me and proceeded to wipe his face with the other. Then he poured two glasses of water and sat back down.
“A big part of your problem,” he said, “is that your inner parts are out of sync with your cognition. You were born into that, but it seems to me that you’ve been addressing it fairly directly over the past few years. Is that your impression as well?”
I explained to him that he was correct; that I had several dreams in which it seemed my inner parts, as he calls them, were trying to communicate better with my cognition, and vice versa. First by feel and then with at least some understanding, I had been working on that, though I added that I’m still doing it by image and feel.
“At this point that’s probably the only thing you can do,” he said mournfully, “but it will improve.”
I nodded, and smiled as appreciatively as I could. Knowing that I was at least progressing helped.
“And that’s part of why I want to get off this ship quickly; to leave you with as much time alone as I can give you.”
“Because being alone in this environment will help me sync-up with my inner parts?”
“Exactly so,” he said. “Think of this as being deeply alone. Not lonely, as in missing people, though that would happen eventually… but alone, where the outside pressures simply aren’t there.”
“Then this will be instructive to me.”
He laughed. “I suspect it will be an especially good kind of instructive… the kind you never saw coming.”
I laughed along with him, and then struggled to find a last question or two to ask him, because he was now standing and scanning the ship to be sure there was nothing else he needed to do before leaving.
“We’re glad you’re writing about these adventures,” he said.
“Honestly, Jens, aside from my regular subscribers – a tiny fraction of the world – I’m not sure who’ll care about it. Without some fairly serious reading and thinking, they’re not really going to understand.”
“You’re right,” he said, “aside from a few, they won’t. But writing endures. It will be waiting for those who are hungry to understand, and for a long time.”
“Follow me down to the ship,” he said, smiling. “it will remind you of a Star Trek shuttle.”