“Kyra, are you excited about entering university next year?”

“Very much so Papa.”

“Decided on a course of study yet?”

“Aesthetic Philosophy of the Second Order, at least that’s my fancy today.”

“Ahh, wonderful choice. I always found the Second Order much more interesting than the First. You must study Luin. Be careful, she has a very seductive mind. Many have entered and few have returned,” laughed Papa.

Kyra smiled back as they walked the warm clay-like beaches around Valla. Leaving for university next year excited and saddened her all at once. University would be a whole new world, a new chapter in her life but it also meant leaving Valla and leaving Papa.

“I’m going to miss you Papa.”

“I’m only a teleport away. Besides, we will always have 10pm,” responded Papa.

Kyra smiled. When she was younger Papa had calmed her fears of separation with a simple story of the moon. “Each night,” he said, “look into the heavens and find the moon. The light you see is the love I am sending your way.”

“Kyra?”

“Yes Papa?”

“I have a question for you.”

Whenever Papa started a conversation with “I have a question for you” and then paused, she knew he was about the knock at the doors of her mind, a knock that always delighted her with discovery as only Papa could do.

“Once you graduate, then what?”

“Find a job,” answered Kyra.

“Once you have that job, then what?”

“Establish my career, perhaps meet a nice boy, get married, raise a family. All the standard stuff,” said Kyra, completely puzzled as to where this conversation was going.

“Once you have established your career, married, raised a family, then what?” Papa was nothing if not persistent and surgical in his Socratic method of dialogue.

“Papa, I’m afraid you’ve lost me on these questions. I’m not sure what you’re looking for here.”

“Let me put it another way. When you are hungry what do you do?”

Kyra hesitated, “Eat?”

“Yes, eat. And once you have eaten, then what?”

“Then I wash the dishes, return to my studies, perhaps take a walk, feed my Juju birds, play with our pampus, read a bit,” answered Kyra with just a touch of frustration in her voice.

“Kyra, if you want to study aesthetic philosophy of the second order you are going to have to do better than this. Try again. No don’t try. In fact stop trying. Let the questions I’ve been asking soak into your mind. Things are never what they appear to be. There is icing and there is cake. Two yet one. Look for the cake in my questions but don’t forget the icing. What is between the cake and the icing? Think without thinking.”

Kyra felt her mind moving in a daze. Papa had that effect. Like looking into the fog, knowing, just beyond sight was something majestic, Papa’s questions took her to that magical place in her mind. Yet, the fog frustrated her. The harder she tried to see the more delusion set in, the more her mind tried to make shapes out of thin air.

“Let’s keep walking,” said Papa.

Papa knew the body needed the mind and the mind the body. When one got stuck you got the other in motion. Motion beget motion. Walking, especially the walking they were doing, the walking he had taught Kyra, walking without footprints, this kind of walking would move the mind forward. The mind needed space, it needed openness and it needed to lose itself in possibilities. Walking would help. And so they walked.

“Papa, I’m not seeing anything. Can you just tell me what you want me to know?”

“I could.”

“Well?”

“It doesn’t work that way Kyra. You know that.”

You could have heard the sigh a mile away. She knew Papa would say he could but couldn’t. Wasn’t the first time she had asked. To be told something was one thing, to discover it something entirely different. Papa put little value on the former and treated the latter like hidden treasure.

“Ok Papa, once I figure this out, then what?”

“Exactly my child, then what!?”

Unsure of what she had just said Kyra offered, “I move on to something else.”

“Are you asking me or telling me,” responded Papa.

Straightening her back and lifting her chin slightly, the moonlight highlighted her pristine porcelain cheeks. Papa couldn’t help but marvel at the pure beauty in Kyra’s face. “I’m telling you . . . I think,” laughed Kyra.

“Okay, let me change the subject,” said Papa.

Kyra laughed, “Now who is kidding who,” playfully poking him in the ribs, hoping changing the subject really meant changing the subject but as she often learned, Papa never really changed the subject; he just attacked from a different angle.

“Kyra,” Papa’s tone changed. She couldn’t quite define how it changed, not good or bad, just different. The tone communicated. Like lightning the image of that thought left a trace. Her mind strained to see what was no longer there. So close. How could a single word, her name, take her so close. But it wasn’t the word, it wasn’t her name, it was the tone. Something different, yet the same. Two, yet one. So close. The fog seemed to part. A shape, but was it real or just her imagination.

“If I could give you everything you desire—would you take it?”

“As in right now?”

“Yes, as in right now. I snap my fingers and you have your degree, a beautiful house, successful career, loving husband, wonderful children, all the money you could ever want. Would you take it?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I would miss the experience, the memories, the challenges. I would miss life. It’s not–”

“Not what Kyra?”

“Life is not in a,” she paused, “destination, the achievement of a goal, the accumulation of accomplishments,” said Kyra.
Papa stood silent.

“There is no then what is there?”

Papa smiled, “Do you want to continue?”

Kyra felt the rush of adrenaline that rode on the back of discovery. “Yes. As a matter of fact I think I do.”

“Then let’s keep walking. Our journey tonight has just begun.”

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