Tuesday, 4 November 2008

insignificant speck of dust.

once upon a time there was sam. sam grew up with his brothers and sisters in their corner of the world and his early childhood years were happy if unremarkable. he enjoyed playing with his friends and impressed his peers and even adults with his smart brain and sharp wit. people said he was gifted or something - he wondered what the something meant.

as he got older, sam figured out a lot of stuff. he seemed to have the ability to connect all these things in interesting and novel ways that others hadn't thought of or at least didn't want to say. people said he was a genius. they said he should become a regular icosahedron.

not many dust specs can be polyhedra, let alone a platonic solid with twenty sides and although sam didn't know what people meant, he was very proud. his parents had great hopes for his future.

as time went on specks would come to sam and ask him things about the universe just so they could be amazed by his answers. they said, ask sam, he knows everything. sam enjoyed all the kudos he was getting - he was even becoming popular. he got so good that at parties he could join in conversations about something he knew nothing about and sound like he was an expert.

it was about this time that the niggling voice in his head became more troubling. the nagging feeling that he might be more "something" than "gifted" after all. he started wondering if he might actually be a fraud and had that feeling that he was about to be caught out.

as far as others were concerned though, sam was still a remarkable speck. time passed without any humiliating exposure and sam felt like maybe he did have the 'potential'. he had achieved hexagonality which is rare enough and maybe it was just a lack of ambition that kept him from attaining that third dimension. despite doubts, sam had daydreams where he became an octahedron even without ambition and the 'ambition explanation' started to grow on him.

sam was now at an age where it was expected that some of ones potential would be realised. sam wasn't quite there and besides, he felt that some of his 'party tricks' were getting a bit stale. he started using the ambition thing as an excuse. it worked on most specks and it became part of his repertoire.

there were many young specks on the scene. some of them were said to have 'potential'. some were already square and sam's fears of exposure resurfaced. its not that he was definitely not talented but he just wasn't sure. he was too used to the praise and wasn't sure what else he had going for him. some of these youngsters were even starting to look a bit cubic and a sort of panic crept into sam's thinking.

sam started to put more effort into his social life, he would engage the upcoming specks and many joined his circle of acquaintances. it became sam and his gang. he would regail them with witty stories of the old days which he carefully honed by repetition. the specks gave him the respect and even adulation he sought and in return they were granted membership of the 'in' group. "aren't they all so clever" specks would say.

while this new leadership role appealed to sam, every speck that resisted his charms, fed his doubts and his fears. sam was now a tetrahedron and had some real status. occasionally, a speck would bypass the group and surpass them in shapeliness. sam would say things like, "soooo greedy and ambitious" or "i just couldn't be bothered". the group would respond, deriding the speck in question and affirming their own nonchalant attitude to success.

one day in a large crowd, somebody asked sam a question. he didn't really know the subject but he managed an answer of sorts that seemed to satisfy the questioner. just as he was about pat his own metaphorical back, a young shape piped up to give his own detailed answer. it was obvious that he was an expert and sam was humiliated.

that night sam went to bed in terror. he was afraid of losing everything that he had worked so hard for. when he next met with his circle, they talked about how it was wrong and against unspoken rules to show somebody up like that - who did he think he was, that climbing ambitious bastard?

later that night they found the talented young dodecahedron asleep in his bed. not a word was spoken they chopped him up into tiny irregular shapes that even his mother wouldn't recognise and scattered the pieces to the wind.

nobody ever spoke of that night and no specks ever developed beyond six faces again. things were fine and dust thrived.

everybody was very surprised when sam killed himself at the peak of his fame. "the preasure that goes with genius" said some. "the stress of ambition" said others. the guilty kept quiet.