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A Story Translated for Humans

Sep 13, 2013 04:02PM ● Published by Ben

By: Kyle Jacobson

Message to the Reader:

I apologize in advance if you are a being who would define itself as something other than human as modifications have been made to this classic tale which other things may find unnecessary.  To that point, assuming you are a human, as a human you must be aware of your current disposition.  You are blocked by your inability to see outside your limited scope of what you perceive to be reality.  Do not worry though, as painstaking efforts have been taken to make this a story you will be able to comprehend.  The only thing asked by this humble writer is that you take the effort to affirm your doltishness, which is of no fault of your own, and enjoy the following.  If you find you do not enjoy the story, do not fret; this is also to no fault of your own as it is difficult for many humans to affirm their dolthood thus making this story difficult for them to enjoy.  Enjoy.

It is in the setting of a farm where the story is to be told.  Never you mind what the farm farmed as it is of little significance to the events in the story.  However, establishing a setting with which one can relate may be helpful for doltish things to enjoy the story and to that supposed fact the farm was one of horses and apples.  The apples were always ripe, red, and delicious, and the horses were always horses.  Now something doltlike may think that to define a horse as a horse is absurd, and that something would have proven itself to live up to its adjective.  You see, a horse is a horse except for when it’s not, just as you are you except for when you’re not.  For example, right now you’re you, and later you’ll be you, but not the you you were, thus not you.  So the horses were always horses, just as apples were always apples.  In the distance from the apples and horses was a farm house.  It was small except when it was close, and red even though it was not.  It was on a particular cloudless night that a creature separated from its oodle in an effort to gain something more from the life it had been living.  We will start there.

     On a warm summer night, flying carelessly through the air, was an oodle of owls.  They shifted together as does an alganation of alligators.  Nothing quite as mystical as such a site I can assure you.  As do leaves drift with the wind, having little regard for their destination, so too do the owls swoom without the hindrance of hesitation.  It was during this careless flight, on this warm starless summer night, above the farm of horses and apples, that a precarious thought entered the mind of a precocious owl.  “What is it that I see that others do not, and what is it I don’t see that others do?”  As the mind turned from one of carelessness to one of carefulness, the owl spiraled down; one wing struggled to fly while the other firmly pressed his brow in an attempt to suppress a headache of dolt.

     The headache only worsened as the owl met the ground with a thud.  The creature sat up and attempted to put his thoughts of perception into perspective.  Of course in doing so he was befuddled with the notions that came from such notions.  If his perception is what is to put things into perspective, then it is his perception that the perspective he creates is one of reality as opposed to reality accepting his perspective to be one grounded in it and therefore being nothing more than a perspective sullied by the perception of a being which had accepted reality to be what it had chosen to perceive it to be.  The headache made itself perceivable to the owl once again, and if it weren’t for the wing struggling to calm the incessant throbbing, other creatures would not be able to perceive there to be a problem as it would remain unseen to their perceptions.

     As opposed to fighting the thought away as the gnat it might be, the owl determined it best to confront the crippling inkling with some possibly deserved consideration.  So if the owl were to accept that his perception were limited to his owlness, then would it be fair to assume that other owls would share aspects of this perspective?  “Sure,” thought the owl, “it is all part of the owl experience.”  Now the owl wasn’t foolish enough to believe that all or even most of its experiences were shared, but just wanted to acknowledge that it is quite probable that there were similarities in perceptions shared throughout the owl community.  The owl also thought it fair to assume that there may even be more shared perceptions within its particular oodle.

     As these thoughts were thunk the owl had expected its headache to subside, which it, unfortunately, was unable to perceive.  Instead the owl only felt an increase in pain as it began to grapple with another question, “Why is it I perceive what I perceive and others can perceive something similar even though they are not an owl?”  Was there something to be said with the way various perceptions are grounded in reality?  In order for something to perceive there must be some sort of connection with a reality, but does perception then have a perverse effect on how that aspect of reality is viewed?  To that point, is it safe to assume that what is shared in perception between various things is the part of perception that is somewhat rooted in reality?  “I reject it!” the owl said, “I reject my perceptions!”  With that the owl flew around as did the gnatful thinking amidst his perceived thoughts.

     Brown blurs bounced from side to side, and up to down, or down to up depending.  The owl became his thoughts and could not tell the difference between the black blades of grass and the black puffs of clouds.  Black was every which way, even the once red apples strewn about the grass were black.  Of course those apples fell from the tree.  “The tree!” the owl swerved as it almost found itself to be strewn amongst the apples and red with them in the morning.  Black, black, black, white, black, white?  That last thoughts caught the owl off guard and he rammed, or owled, into the side of an odd looking horse.  This probable horse snorted as it woke and turned to see the lost owl on the ground, which was hooting softly with uncertainty.

     “Hey,” started the unhorselike horse with a harsh tone which shifted as it came to understand the owls current state, “dude… you alright?”  The owl was now rocking on the ground, hooting ununderstandably as it attempted to console itself.  A nudge from a hoof made the owl turn and look up into the maybe smile of the thing which he gnatted into.  “You took a killer wipeout there buddy.”

     “I’m lost,” the poor owl seemed to be frowning.

     “It’s alright man, I found you and I just saw your oodle not too long ago.”

     “No,” the owl turned its head to the left to look to its right.  After almost a full circle of rotation, the owl returned his regard to the possible horse’s eyes, “I’m lost in my head.”  The horse-like horse knelt down as the owl began to explain the array of thoughts it’d been having over the last couple of minutes.  To make things easier on the unhorse, the owl perched itself atop the creature’s head as it continued its explanation of confusion.  With a thud, the black and white horsish being let its behind fall.  It now had taken to thinking about what had perplexed the owl.

     “I see there little dude,” started the almost horse, “that you have considered many a complex thing.  I think we need to start with the question of what it is we are trying to figure out.”  The owl’s wide eyes widened as it took interest in the queer horse’s thoughts.  “You see buddy, the question is, are we sitting here trying to figure out what reality is, or are we trying to figure out what perception is.  If we want to understand reality, we must first understand perception, you following me dude?”  The owl shook its head rapidly 270 degrees in each direction.  “You see we have different lenses through which we view things.  I’m a zebra so I see things through zebra eyes, and I experience things through zebra senses.”

     “I thought you were a horse maybe.”

     “I am, but I’m a zebra too.  Now you see things in a more owlish way because you are an owl.  These perceptions are not barriers to reality, but rather scopes through which we experience reality.  Most likely reality is not what you see, but it’s what we live in.  So if we are to understand our perceptions we have to start by separating them from reality.  Take everything you perceive and assume it is not reality.  When you start to dissect each experience you start to see some commonalities.  These are the things that create your perceptions, the things that guide you to do the things you do and see the things you see.  This is not an easy thing to do dude, but you have to start picking it apart.  Let’s get really basic here bud.  You see that apple tree?  Well to me it is food, and to you it is some potentially killer digs.  I see many trees, but they do not all give me food.  So I take these different experiences I have with trees and start to take them apart.  What I find is that, to myself, trees are not trees, but rather food and not food.  At other points in time they may be back scratchers.  Dude I could go for a good back scratching right about now.”

     The owl takes this time to give the zebra a massage with his deadly claws, grasping lightly to gently lift the hide of the zebra.  “Thanks man; feels so good bud.”

     “But,” says the owl, “the tree exists for me and many others as well.  Does this not make the tree real?”

     “Oh yeah.  So you see, that tree is like reality.  We all perceive it in a different way, but in the end the tree will always be what it is regardless of how we perceive it.  Now the tree itself is not reality, but it is something we all can perceive to be real.  We can then surmise that in this third dimension of space we perceive the tree has a high chance of existing, just not necessarily in the way we perceive it to be existing.”

     “So then what would this reality be?” the owl raised a relatively large eye of inquisition.

     “Well little dude, all zebras are scientists.  We use our stripes as a simple way to do some complex mathematics.  Those humans used to use something called an abacus to do their mathematics, and in many ways my stripes operate just as this device did.  I have stripes all along my legs, tail, body, and head.  Now I generally need another being to make this all work, but I can do some simple stuff on my own.  Count the stripes on my tail and for every completion of tail counting count one stripe on my left foreleg.  Once all the left foreleg stripes are counted put one on my right foreleg.  That’s the basics of it, and I do not wish to bore you with overly complicated zabrithmetic.

     “So as a scientist we use complex equations and such to try to understand the reality of reality.  Right now we have this idea that the universe is made up of these gnarly strings that vibrate at different frequencies to create what we perceive to be righteously real.  However, we seem to perceive things from one dimension of time and one dimension of space and in order for this theory to be true there must be like seven dimensions of space and four dimensions of time.  If we really wanted to see reality for what it is we’d need to experiences all these dimensions simultaneously, and that my friend is neigh impossible, but not totally improbable.”

     The owl rubbed its head with the tip of its wing, getting between his feathers masterfully to reach its scalp, “So why even bother if we can’t accomplish it?”

     “Well little bud,” the zebra rolled over as the inquisitive owl hopped off to stand on the ground next to his fountain of knowledge, “it’s like this.  We know not what will come of such excellent discoveries, but we just want to know.  In the end we will always be limited by our perceptions.  Though I can measure things going on in other dimensions, I cannot see them as they truly exist.  There are some cosmic rays of energy that I cannot see as they are, but I know they’re there as I have measured them.”

     “How do you know those are the things you are measuring?” the owl was becoming quite intrigued by the subject and started to hop like a playful chickadee.

     “As scientists we can never really know, but we can support our conclusions with repeated experiments by other zebras.  In the end, it’s the best we’ve got, so we will keep going with it to understand the world around us and all its bodaciousness.  Now there is still so much I could discuss with you bud, but I gotta catch some zees.  Though it may be like afternoon for you, it’s late for me.”

     “Thanks for your time, but I don’t feel I have all the answers I have sought,” the owl, now anxiously nervous, did not wish for the escalating conversation to conclude.

     “Sorry man, but check out my brorse Clydes.  He’s usually up this time of night in the stables next to the farmhouse.”  With that the zebra nestled up next to the apple tree, had a few, what I can only assume to be righteous, back scratches and dozed off.  The owl, with renewed thirst for knowings, flew off towards the farmhouse.  The zebra had ignited a spark in the head of this now oodleless owl.  The owl felt a little better and thanked the zebra with great sincerity under his breath.  The wind gracefully carried the sound to the ear of the scientist.  That night the zebra slept with an appreciative smile on an otherwise long face.

     Whimsically gliding with the grace of a playful sparrow, the owl started to make its way to the stables.  It felt that, though it was still confused, it was now understanding the complexity of the complexness his thoughts had carried.  The balance between reality and perception changed from being to being, and the idea that the scale could be balanced for one would not necessarily lead to everything being balanced for another.  These thoughts now played in the head of the owl as he looped the loop and spiritedly dove towards the ground.  The grass in the area was tall, but with a keen eye, the owl spotted a little field mouse.  By the time the mouse knew what was happening, it found itself between the claws of the now spry owl.

     Now, as we all know, owls do not generally eat field mice.  In fact, when owls are with their oodles they never take the time to find mice unless they are looking for some entertainment.  Owls are generally not even that bright, but enjoy grappling with the idea that they have limitless potential, which may in fact be true due to their having never reached it.  Some may be thinking, “I’ve seen owls eat field mice and they do it without mercy.”  Clearly you are only familiar with lone owls, a rarity indeed, and with that in mind you would be correct.  However, the exceptions do not make the rule and to that point the owl in our story is still not a lone owl as he had only recently been separated from his oodle.  Thus its mind has not shifted from one of soundness to one of desperation.  With an untainted mind, free of uncivilized thoughts, this particular owl has picked up a field mouse to test its own thought potential. 

     At first the mouse had thought its existence to be at an end due to the loneless of the owl, but it soon realized that this was not a crazed owl.  To this point the mouse had discovered the owl’s purpose in picking it up and began to tell the owl what it wanted to hear:

     You pity me for having little

     And I envy you for having much

     No matter the amount given

     It never seems to be enough

     “That’s it?” the owl seemed disappointed.

     “Yeah,” said the mouse, the most masterful riddler in the animal kingdom.

     “No no no,” the owl didn’t like this one bit, “that’s way too short.  I need more clues.”

     “You will get none.”

     “Fine,” the owl thought for a few seconds as he carried the mouse carefully through the air, ”How about feathers or fur?”

     “No, for I have enough for myself as you do yourself, so I would not envy you for it.”

     “Ah yes,” said the owl with a nod.

     The owl was thinking as the mouse interrupted, “I’m sorry to be a bother, but I am in a hurry.  If you could just drop me off next to the farmhouse I would be much obliged.”

     “Do not worry little one for I am headed in the direction.  Teeth?”

     “Oh that’s good; you aren’t familiar to me and I feared you were taking me further away than I would wish.  Also no as you have one large beak and I have many teeth.” 

     All the way to the barn the owl thought and he could not come up with the answer.  He landed next to the farmhouse to drop the mouse off.  There was a little dugout area which seemed to be the mouse’s home.  The owl thought it looked rather nice as long grass would work as a roof on stormy nights, a blanket on cold nights, and a lovely place to lounge on the most serene of nights.  The mouse was polite enough to only go into the farmhouse during the most dreadful of weather, knowing the farmer did not take kindly to mouse folk.  The owl complimented the mouse on its home and the mouse bowed in appreciation.  “Thanks for the riddle.  I shall think about it later, but I must be going to the stable to talk with Clydes,” it was the polite thing to do as owls know that mice generally don’t enjoy being grabbed while they are out and about.  As the owl took off, the mouse left it with a final thought, “Don’t waste it!”

     The owl was quite a ways away, but made out the faint squeaks of the mouse, “Waste what?”

     “The answer to the riddle!”  With that the mouse entered its home for a quick nap.  Flying was rough for the little creature, and the initial shock of the lone owl grabbing it still hadn’t completely worn off. 

     The owl entered the stable to find many horses wearing heavy blue blankets as they slept peacefully.  There was one horse though, who was rather large, stomping about and making a fuss.  It seemed the other horses had come to accept this robust horse’s shenanigans as unavoidable, and now considered it nothing more than white noise as they rested.  There was no doubt in the owl’s mind that this footheavy fellow was the Clydes he was looking for.

    Approaching the horse, who was now stomping about, the owl interrupted hesitantly, “Excuse me.”  This was to no avail as the horse seemed rather frustrated as he looked down where he had been stomping.  The horse’s tongue stretched determinedly to the side as it stared intently at a problem it perceived to need fixing.  The owl, not wanting to interrupt while making his presence known, hopped up to the wooden wall surrounding, what was assumed to be, Clyde’s cubicle.

     “Oh drat, this surely will not do!  It is hopeless, utterly and truly hopeless,” the horse seemed rather loud, and apparently was, as an offended snort came from beyond the stable, “Oh, my apologies to the steers.”  A dangle of a bell signaled that whomever had lifted their head in objection accepted the apology.  “And who art thou that hast perched upon my studio?”

     “Pardon me, but are you Clydes?  You see I was talking to a zebra and…”

     “I am indeed Clydes.  Clydes of Dale,” the large horse poised itself in quite the prideful manner as it had straightened its back, lifted its head, and flipped its forelock to the side, “It surprises me to hear of Zebra being awake at this untimely hour.  Hast thou awokened him?”

     “Huh?  Well, I guess I did as I flew into him.”  The owl paced nervously back and forth as would a parakeet on its favorite pole.

     “Relax good owl.  I did not mean to be accusatory in my manner in my manor.”

     “Oh, sorry.  I just find your size to be rather intimidating and I feared you were upset that I had disturbed your friend.”  The Clydesdale bowed its head and allowed the owl to perch near its ear.  As awkward as it were, the horse wished to keep their discussion as quiet as possible for it did not wish to be rude, even though the other horses in the stable would take no notice as the conversation between the owl and horse paled in comparison to the usual rompings Clydes generally generated.

     “Do not worry for I am almost certain Zebra now lay on his back looking up into the stars.  It is a rarity indeed for him to be up at this time, and he would not miss the stars,” Clydes said, staring at the wall in his stable.

     “Ah… well it is rather cloudy.”

     “It matters not, for any chance that a star or even the moon will peak through is chance enough for it to be laying in anticipation of the potential sighting of such a sight.”  And it was so that the Clydesdale’s thoughts were true, as the zebra now lay on its back catching brief glimpses of the world beyond the clouds.  “Now I feel I may have been rather rude for I have not inquired as to your aims in finding me.”

     “Oh, um, yes I came because I was talking about perception with the zebra, and he directed me towards you as he was feeling rather tired, at least when it came to our conversation.”  With this the owl filled in Clydes about the conversation it had with the zebra.  Clydes was intrigued to say the least and seemed to be very understanding of the zebra’s perception.  Perhaps this was due to the fact they were both horse in nature, but it seemed to go beyond that.  It seemed as though Clydes was generally making an effort to truly understand the zebra’s points even though a twinkle in Clydes’ eye reflected that the zebra’s thoughts were not necessarily shared.

     “Look down, little owl.”  The owl had looked at what Clydes had been stomping out.  It was a tree.  So abstract, yet so distinct.  The branches twisted out from a center mass that was rooted deep in the earth.  The lines in the bark were made with such care, it was difficult for the owl to accept that the earlier stompings produced such an intricate work.  “What dost thou see with its owl eyes?”

     “I see a tree.  It’s very pretty”

     “That’s interesting.  I think you’re looking at it upside down.”

     “No, I don’t think so.  It definitely looks like a tree.”

     “Are you sure it’s not just a bunch of hay and soil strewn about?”

     “Yes, I’m sure”

     “And how is it you can be so sure?  Is this not just your perception of what I have created?”

     “Well of course it is.”

     “And there it is good owl.  For there was naught but soil and hay here when I started, but I have taken something that was not there and made it into something you could perceive to be there.  Thus is the perception of an artist.”

     “What is?”

     “You see, an artist works in reality physically, but its mind does not.”

     “But it must!” the owl was flustered as it was not ready to have the new ideas it had been given by the zebra to be so easily refuted.

     “You see good owl, conceptually speaking, my perception is only bound by the limits of subjectivity.  I can then take one of these notions, and change reality, if only for a moment.”

     “But, but, you didn’t change reality.  It is still just hay and dirt.”

     “Is it though?  You had told me it was a tree.  We both have similar notions of what a tree looks like, but thou hast just told me that this was a tree.  Here let me show you.”  Clydes picked up a stick with its bushy tail and dipped it in a pile of mud stored underneath some hay in the back of its studio.  With a bit of mud on the end of the stick, Clydes began to draw an owl that was oodleless.  It seemed lost, worried, and confused.  Every stroke was taken so purposefully, and with each additional stroke the owl started to feel a growing sadness.  It soon came that with every whip of the tail, another pin pierced the owl’s heart.  “What dost thou see now?”

     “Sadness and pain.  I mean, I see an owl, like me, who has all but forgotten its predicament until this moment.”

     “Can you show me sadness and pain in reality?”

     “Sure I can… I think.  What about when a cow loses its calf?  Is that not sadness?”

     “Indeed it makes me sad to ponder, but a cow with a lost calf is in itself not a sadness.  We take this event and apply our own perceptions unto it.  However, we do not see sadness, we merely perceive it.  It is as an artist I work to make the unperceivable a reality.  To you this picture is sadness, but to others it may not be.  So I struggle to make everyone see what may not be reality, thus creating a new reality for their perceptions.  Good owl, I do not mean to make you troubled, but your efforts to understand this perception, no matter how daunting, is a thing that is good.  Look at my stomping again.  What do you see?”

     The stomping seemed to be so much more.  The little owl could see little creatures on the branches.  Scores of them.  The owl saw what it hadn’t before.  “I see my home.  I see my family.  I see my oodle.”  A tear ran between the fine furlike feathers on the owl’s face and dripped off the tip of its beak.

     “Do not cry good owl.  I ask one thing of thee.  Go to the large oak tree just on the other side of the farmhouse.  Once thou dost arrive all thou hast to do is listen.”  The owl was reluctant to leave the head of Clydes.  Questions still needed answering.  Was this owl to be left alone at this farm?  Even if another oodle came about it would not be the same.  The oodle it was a part of had been its oodle since it was an owlet.  Any other oodle would only make it realize that it was not with its own.  Clydes lifted its head gently and the owl mustered up enough faith to take off.  “Go to the oak tree good owl.  I promise thee that all will be well.” 

     The owl flew as a duck trying to land or take off.  The clumsiness of its flight was nothing short of embarrassing.  At least it would’ve been had the sight not been so easily perceived as depressing.  Over the farmhouse the owl found the oak tree.  It sat there on the branch, close to the trunk, and leaned against it.  It could not stop the oncoming flood that would be the lament of the owl.

     “hello.  hello.  do not cry little one.”

     The owl heard the faintest and most elongated of voices, “Who’s there?”

     “do not cry.  i know of where your oodle is.”

     “Who’s talking?!  Show yourself… please.”

     “you hear the tree on which you sit little one.”

     “But… what?  I have never heard a tree before.”

     “ah yes, trees do rarely talk as they rarely have anything to say, but i could not help but notice your sadness, and the sadness of another oodle for losing one.”

     “A what!  My oodle?!” potential joy overtook the tone of the owl as it sat up and stared at the tree gawkily, not knowing where to look at a tree that has taken to talking.

     “perhaps.  i do not know your oodle.”

     “Oh oak tree, I have made a mistake.  You see I started to think of perception and then everything fell apart.  I thought I’d just catch up with my oodle later, but I had taken so much time to find the answer to such an insignificant question I am now lost.”

     “you are not lost little one.  in fact you are right in asking questions of such consequence.  it is in nature that your perception matters most, for your perception is your reality, and that is all the reality you need know.  why struggle against it?  i am a tree, connected with the ground and all other things in it.  why i have just spoken with an oak quite a distance to the east that has an oodle that is one owl short.  i see the earth in such a fashion you will never understand, but you need not understand it to understand you.  as an owl you have that perception, and as you you have another.  it is these perceptions that you must understand, and no one can help you understand them.  tonight you have taken the first step to such an understanding, and in doing so have grown wise.  go to the east and find your oodle.  the other oak has told me it is indeed yours.  tell the others what you now know and may owls become some of the wisest creatures to exist in this realm.”

     “Thank you,” the owl wiped away the last of its tears, “Thank you so much.  I wish there was something I could do to repay you for such kindness.”

     “i only ask that you return to your oodle; my branch will always be extended for you and yours." 

     For what seemed like a blissful eternity the owl flew east.  With the directness of a hunting hawk the owl made for his oodle.  A tree started to grow over the horizon of the clouded night sky.  As the owl neared, it made out the familiar silhouettes of its oodle.  He swirled above the tree and landed with relief.  He would tell them of all he had experienced that night, and the owls would grow in wisdom.  Many would choose to perceive them as wise in the future.

     That night, after the owl was reacquainted with its oodle, it had a final thought.  It had perceived tonight to be a waste of it, but had found it to be of good use.  However, that isn’t to say it couldn’t have been used more wisely. 

     You pity me for having little

     And I envy you for having much

     No matter the amount given

     It never seems to be enough

“Time,” with this thought the owl looked up at the peeking stars and found that, for the moment, it was sated.

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