The afternoon sun beat down on the white sands of the Atlantic. I lay casually on a towel, stretched out trying to soak in every particle of light the great fire ball in the sky could produce. The warmth of the day was comforting, and was easing me into a false sense of freedom, for this was the last day of my much needed and appreciated vacation. But, I wouldn’t allow the inevitability of my return to the crushing and oppressive world of corporate America to bother me in this moment of total enjoyment. I was as free as I could get.
I could hear the crashing waves on the shore, and the sounds of people laughing and talking, enjoying their time in the sun. Dogs barked. Seagulls squawked and dive-bombed head first into the sea to catch their lunch. I could smell the smoke from innumerable grills that were cooking meats of all types all across the beach. The moment was perfect.
Suddenly I felt a shiver. The air around me became cold, and a shadow covered my face. I opened my eyes and nearly wet my bathing suit. A huge cat wearing a black hat with a red flower sticking out of a red band leered at me, chomping on a cigar. What are you doing my boy?
I screamed. What the hell are you?
I’m not a WHAT, I’m a WHO, and who I am is Shamus. And I don’t appreciate the yelling. I’ve got a hangover see. Too much Scotch last night at my class reunion, so can you turn down the volume a bit?
I scooted away from Shamus. He was huge. He had to be over six feet tall.
Six feet, seven inches to be exact. He said.
How did you know what I was thinking?
It’s a trick my dear old mother taught me. But enough of that you lazy baboon. We have work to do.
What? What do you mean? I’m not doing any work. I’m on vacation.
Vacation? What’s that, so some sort of disease?
No. I’m off from work and enjoying myself.
Enjoying yourself? Now how does that work? Sounds a bit dirty to me.
That’s not what I mean. Just a minute. What’s the meaning of all this anyway?
The meaning of what?
Why are you here?
I’m here for you, of course lame brain. Now get up off that silly towel and let’s have us a chat.
A chat. About what?
What for? I just want to be left alone.
No can do. Shamus removed his hat and revealed a small book resting on his head. He thumbed through the pages. Listen old boy, it says here that you are going to be undergoing a change and I’m here to make sure that happens.
What sort of change?
I don’t know. That’s not my department. I told you. I’m just here to make sure you’re prepared for it. Now get up. Shamus grabbed me by my ankle and hoisted me off the towel as easily as one might hoist a rag doll. I dangled upside down yelling for help. No one can hear you chum; they’re in a state of suspended animation, or some such nonsense.
I looked around. It was true. Everyone on the beach, including the dogs and birds were frozen in place. How? How did you do that?
Are you a quantum physicist?
No. I’m an accountant.
Well, it’s got something to do with quantum physics and nothing to do with accounting, and I don’t have time to explain it to a numbskull like you. Shamus dropped me on my head. I rolled onto my stomach and then stood up, brushing off the sand.
There was no need to drop me.
No, I don’t suppose there was, but it was fun.
What’s all this business of change all about?
Shamus puffed on his cigar and pointed to a group of people standing like statues around a grill. Do you see those apes over there?
Apes? I see people.
Yes, the people, apes, you say tomayto, I say tomaato, it’s all the same to me.
Yes I see them. What of them?
They look happy don’t they?
Yes they do.
Well that’s a facade.
What do you mean?
It is phony baloney, is what I mean, and stop interrupting or I’ll drop you on your head again.
Those people aren’t happy, they’re just pretending.
How do you know?
Because I can read their thoughts. Now what did I tell you?
That’s the problem with you apes, you’re always sorry, but if you just minded your manners you wouldn’t need to be sorry. Now where was I? Oh yes. Those people there, and over there, he pointed to another group of people lounging on towels, and all the rest of the monkeys on this beach, including you, are unhappy. Shamus puffed on his cigar and stared at me. You look like you need to say something. Go ahead, speak your mind.
They look happy to me Shamus. Maybe you’re mistaken.
Not likely. I don’t make those kinds of mistakes. Drinking too much Scotch last night, that was a mistake, but about those people, I’m spot on.
Why are we all unhappy then?
Because you know that this is all a sham, this beach fun. It’s a temporary break in the midst of a miserable and oppressive existence.
Well, it’s the way of things. We have to work to live.
I’m not just talking about working. You’re whole way of life is a sham. You’re crushed under the weight of desire and acquisition. You chase after money and you live like slaves.
That’s a cynical way of looking at things.
I’m a cynical cat. He puffed on his cigar twirled his whiskers. Cynical or not, it’s the truth.
You’re over simplifying.
What were you thinking right before I interrupted your “enjoyment?”
I don’t know.
Come now my boy, you can’t fool a telepath. Do you need me to remind you?
No. I was thinking about having to return to work on Monday.
Yes. And were you looking forward to returning?
No, not exactly.
And why not?
I was silent.
Come on baboon, spit it out; tell me why you aren’t looking forward to a return to your work, which you seem to think is so necessary and important.
Well, because it’s boring, and tedious. I’m at the beck and call of frustrating clients and overbearing bosses.
In a nutshell, it’s miserable.
Yes. Yes I admit it’s miserable but…
But what? Are you going to say that it’s necessary? That it’s the way life is. Are you going to give me some well-contrived and oft-repeated nonsense that it’s the only way to exist?
Well yes, I was going to say something like that.
Don’t bother. I’ve heard it all before, and it is nonsense, the lot of it.
What are you suggesting we do, then?
I never suggest anything monkey-boy. I just tell it like it is. You apes have made a fine mess of civilization. You’ve created an existence of acquisition. You’re just automatons going about your business obeying arbitrary rules, consuming products and thinking that there’s no other way to live your lives. There’s more to life than consumption of material wealth my boy.
Do you ape-face? Then explain why you dedicate 50 weeks a year to the futile pursuit of things?
I was silent again.
Come on, why avoid the obvious. You know this brief reprieve from your mind-numbing, body-crushing career is more valuable to you than all the money in the world.
Fine, you’re right. This was paradise until you showed up.
Yes, I have that effect on people. But you know that the world you have to go back to is unnatural. It’s painful. It drives most of your kind crazy. You become depressed, you develop ulcers and other illnesses. You become isolated and alienated from others. Most people don’t even talk to each other anymore, except by your fancy gadgets and gizmos. This is what you call freedom, but it’s nothing but a cage, a mental prison that’s trapped your species for generations.
How else am I supposed to live? Should I go into the woods and live like a Neanderthal?
Do whatever you want. It’s not my job to decide for you, I’m just presenting the facts chum, it’s up to you to interpret and act on them. The choice is yours.
It doesn’t feel that way.
My boy, you don’t realize you have choices because you’ve been taught to believe that there’s only one way to meet your needs; it’s bullocks.
I don’t know.
Of course you don’t. You’re a monkey in a cage, and until you find a way to slip through the bars, you’ll be trapped. Choice sets you free. You always have a choice even when someone is holding a gun to your head and he says, kneel or die.
What choice do I have then?
You can kneel, or you can die. Either way it’s your decision. Only you can make yourself kneel. You just have to weigh the consequences. Of course, you could always throw a monkey wrench into the whole system of either-or.
Find other options. Why does it have to be either one or the other?
That sounds difficult.
Of course it’s difficult. Who said life has to be easy? Indeed, life’s meant to be challenging. That’s what separates the living and the dead. Overcome yourself, and see that the world has more to offer you than either-or.
But if I don’t go to work, then how will I eat? Where will I live?
You can eat whatever you find and live wherever you find yourself. You apes didn’t always live in civilizations like this one. The idea of working all day long is relatively new. It was introduced by certain groups of people who wanted to control others. Bankers, merchants, and other money-grubbing parasites created the civilization of acquisition and convinced your ancestors, and then you, that the only way to live was by toiling for long hours of the day. You became slaves to their money-grubbing practices. They invented coins and cash. They invented interest. They invented all sorts of devices to drain the fruits of your work into their coffers, and then to bind you to them through debt. They’re ruthless and vindictive creatures who care nothing for your well-being. But, you kneel to them, because you believe that the civilization they created is the only way to exist. Unmitigated nonsense is what it is.
Our whole system is based on money. How are we supposed to live without it?
Your ancestors got along fine without money. They didn’t need to trade goods far and wide. They lived off the land, on what was immediate and available. They kept their commerce close to home, and they never exchanged goods for useless trinkets of gold and silver. Wealth is not money. Wealth is food, water, and other necessities of life. Money is lifeless waste. It’s a way to confound you. It enslaves you to banks and money-lenders.
You’re saying we don’t have to live under a Capitalist economy?
That’s right. You don’t have to live under any economy, for that matter. You’ll succeed at feeding yourselves, by growing food, or hunting and fishing, the way your species has done it for hundreds of thousands of years. The concept of money is only a few thousand years old and yet your species has been around for much longer, surviving and thriving without an ounce of gold.
I don’t know. I can’t comprehend a world without money.
That’s because you’ve been indoctrinated, and quite effectively I might add, to believe that money is necessary. Money isn’t necessary. Banks aren’t necessary. This vast civilization of acquisition isn’t necessary. Human beings can live quite prosperously without them. Indeed, the vast majority of your kind live better without banks and money. But, it’s the elite, the very few, who amass fortunes now, because of money and banks. While the rest of you toil and grumble.
It seems impossible.
You can’t see the truth, because you’ve never looked for it. A vast global system based on the corporate-banking system is emerging. Everything depends on that system, but it’s wholly unnatural. It doesn’t fit your nature or your spiritual impulses. The global economic system is a system of control and slavery. It’s designed to chain you to factories, offices, mills, and other labor camps. You’re slave labor for the elite, but you don’t even realize it, because you’ve been trained to be blind to it. You basic animal impulses are the key.
What do you mean?
The animal side of you seeks two things, Status and Sex. They’re mutually supportive impulses. Status attracts sex partners and reputation for sexual prowess enhances status. Your species is obsessed with these two things. But there are higher impulses at work as well, as long as you don’t suppress them.
Such as the impulse to understand the nature of reality, and the impulse to help others. Your species needs to develop self-control over the animal impulses and pursue the higher ones.
How do I gain self-control?
Have awareness of and command over your impulses. Your soul dictates what you do, not your body, not you appetites. It means you don’t give in to your belly or your genitals. It means you understand what needs to be done, and no matter what the consequences are, you do it because it’s the right thing to do. Self-control is the difference between a civilization of acquisition and a civilization of excellence.
That seems like a utopian pipe dream.
It is, but only because so many of you monkeys indulge your animal impulses. That “pipe dream” as you call it is not impossible; it’s only improbable as long as you remain ignorant of your potential. A civilization of excellence can’t be imposed by force, which is why so many utopian experiments fail. When a regime imposes utopia on people individuals don’t develop self-control. They are controlled by exterior laws and rules. Self-control is an ideal to strive for, which can be accomplished only when men and women actively and consciously strive to be better, and take charge of their animal impulses. If you try to impose a perfect society on impulsive beings then you’ll produce a fascist state. But, if people develop self-control, then there’s little need for the imposition of any regime, laws, or restrictions.
But how are we supposed to achieve that, if what you say about our animal impulses is true?
It is true. But the fact you indulge your animal impulses doesn’t mean you can’t learn to control them and pursue higher goals. It just means you have to work at it and when you fail, to keep working at it until you succeed. The fate of your species depends on this change.
Is that the change I have to make?
You tell me my boy. What drives you? Is it your animal impulses, or does something higher compel you?
I don’t know.
Well, until you do, you won’t know if you need to change or how to change. You have to know yourself, where you come from and where you’re headed in order to gain control over your impulses.
How do I do that?
I can’t do all the work for you. You have to use your mind, that powerful tool housed in that puny skull of yours. Exercise the powers of your mind, don’t wait for everything to be handed to you on a silver platter. “Tell me what to do.” That’s the motto of slaves. Don’t be a slave. Question. Challenge. Experiment. Test. Use the powers of your mind to get closer to the Truth.
I don’t know if I can do that Shamus.
Well you have some thinking to do then don’t you old chum? You can go on living as you do, never questioning the status quo, being a miserable accountant, working in a miserable job and only having occasional reprieves during your vacations to the beach; or, you can engage your mind, test and challenge your understanding of reality, until you come closer to the truth, and while it might not relieve your body from the burden of work, it will relieve your mind from the shackles of slavery. And that’s the first step toward total liberation.
Of course it is. Because it means responsibility. Shamus puffed on his cigar and looked skyward. Take a look at the sun.
What? That’ll hurt my eyes.
Just do it.
I turned up to look at the sun. Miraculously I could see it clearly without the protection of shaded glasses. What am I looking for Shamus?
Nothing. I’m just trying to prove a point.
You were afraid to look at the sun, because you believed it would hurt your eyes. That’s what we call an analogy. When your kind seeks the truth it hurts, just like looking at the sun. You know it will turn your universe upside down. Now look at those people again and tell me what you see. We turned back to the people grilling food. Well?
I see people trying to escape.
But like you, they’re just fooling themselves. Come Monday morning, they’ll be stuck in their offices, or factories, and the children will be chained to desks at school, where their minds are indoctrinated into the civilization of acquisition, and they’ll be back to their miserable lives.
Yes, it is. But it’s the world you baboons created for yourselves, and it didn’t have to be this way. You had plenty of warnings. You were given plenty of opportunities. Messengers appeared. But you didn’t listen to them. Some you tortured. Some you imprisoned. Some you scared off. Some you killed. That’s what savages like you do.
Is there hope for us Shamus? Can we achieve a civilization of excellence?
Not while you think as you do. Your attitudes about life, your fears, your prejudices and bigotries are what prevent utopia from being a real experience. It’s not because it’s impossible; it’s because you haven’t made it real.
You’ve given me a lot to think about.
Good. And just in time, because I’ve got to be going now. I have people to see and places to be.
Thank you Shamus.
It’s been a real pleasure chum. Good luck to you and your whole flea bitten species. Shamus faded out of sight. Suddenly I heard the sounds and smells of a beach day. Somehow, they no longer mattered to me. I sat on my towel and stared out over the ocean. Its vastness reminded me of what Shamus said, that there are other options. I wondered what they could be.