I received an irate email from my good friend Pete yesterday about Monday’s essay. What, my friend needed to know, was the real ending? What happened to the fellow in the story, the one with the wife and kid who was starting his Internet business? Did he leave the restaurant? Did the business succeed? Did he relapse into drugs? For the record, not long after I left that very same restaurant my friend’s business was going strongly enough that he was able to leave as well. And he stayed married. And I believe he remained off drugs. I can never know for sure what role our conversation played in the rest of his life, though I do know what role it played it mine, which is why I ended the story the way I did.
I feel for Pete, however. I may have started this story, but he was finishing. This is what human beings do. Our imaginations light upon what interests us. While I was turning the narrative car down one road, his imagination began shouting, “Look at that road! Look how many interesting questions lie unanswered down it!”
And in this way, Pete was glimpsing himself in this story – not in me, or in my friend, but simply in what interested him. What are we but what interests us? A meat sack with bones and a useful frontal lobe? I don’t think so. We may look static in the mirror, but this is a trick of time and space. We are a direction, not a thing, for which all endings are no more real than beginnings.
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