The Disease

I remember that day, that day long ago when I learned the thing that vexes all men. Not the sea, not the dichotomy of good and evil, not even a woman. See, Jack, that which vexes all men is this idea, this way of thinking that once he becomes taught, follows him for the rest of his life, haunting, taunting him daily. Some days are better than others. He'll be lucky for a while, going weeks without thinking about it. But then he'll see, hear, smell, feel something that will bring that memory roaring back to the top, and he will curse the day he learned it.

"Vengeance is mine!" he'll cry, as he infects every soul willing to spare a moment to listen to his mad ramblings. Those who are, themselves, already tortured with this hidden knowledge will shake their heads in pity, both for themselves and the man who cries out. The man's words prick the minds of the innocent ones, the blessed ignorant ones who will now have to carry that burden all their days. A teenage girl as she makes her way to the mall. A businessman on the subway heading home to his wife and child. A waiter serving coffee in an outdoor cafe. The lucky ones are those that forget it as soon as it's heard. The unfortunate ones, the ones that hears those words in their heads repeatedly, try to ignore it. Then a week goes by, and they're still thinking about what they heard. They do a little research and discover the meaning of the phrase. They laugh it off at first, calling it stupid before curiousity gets the better of them, and they repeat what they heard in front of their friends. “What a fun new game”, they think.

Months go by. Their thoughts are still revolving around their new knowledge. It's no longer funny. It's no longer cute. It's maddening. It's torture. Eventually they live a life of not caring, reaching the same stage as the first man. They'll tell anybody and everybody about their predicament, hoping to find a sympathetic ear.

This is how they live their lives. This is what they go through each and every day. Do they regret it? No, they can't. That knowledge has become woven into their being; removing that knowledge removes who they really are, and at this stage they can't afford to lose that, too.

So to those who have remained naive, stay that way. Ignorance is bliss, at least in this case. Remain that way. Run from this cancer; avoid it like the plague. We, the infected, are counting on you. Godspeed.

To everyone else:

You just lost The Game.