Updated: Dec 4, 2021
A Write of Passage
Written by: Cecilia Belle
Samuel S. Seemann sat at his worn, mahogany-tinted wooden desk. It had served his well-built, aging body well over the years. As a novelist, he frequently used it to write new material. In his mind, it was a member of his family.
"Well, I just recently had my newest novel published," Samuel thought. "I should probably start coming up with new material. It'll give me something productive to do."
Samuel lived alone in his home, as his wife had died from lung cancer the previous year. The rest of his children were either in college or had families of their own. Samuel couldn't help but feel his house felt desolate. He was not wholly alone, though; he had family and friends who cared and spoke with him regularly.
Looking outside, he noticed the trees in his backyard. They had bright red leaves which rustled in the cool, August weather. The trees gave him a serene feeling and put his mind at ease. Reading about the world around him always gave him a multitude of emotions, a sense he hoped to convey through his next novel.
Samuel walked over to his computer and turned it on. After it booted up, he started to brainstorm.
"Now, let's see...I know I want to write a story about the world, people, and other related themes. I also need to write something people can find both enjoyable and relatable. It'd probably be best if I wrote something interesting without being over-the-top would be ideal."
Samuel double-clicked the internet browser's icon on his computer's desktop. It booted up, and he typed 'the world' into his favorite search engine, Puggle.
However, Puggle did not give him quite the inspiration he was hoping to find. He found many results related to the tarot card of The World and other commercial venues. Hoping to find more relevant results, he Puggled 'the origin of the world.' He came across a painting he had never seen: L'Origine du monde, by Gustave Courbet. He viewed it and noticed it depicted a naked woman lying down on top of a bed with her legs spread open.
"Heh, what an ironic result. Not at all what I was expecting. But it certainly is someone's worldly origin! I should Puggle something else..."
Instead, he tried searching for 'timeline of the world.' He received more relevant results with this query. Samuel had never researched or put much thought into the world's origin before. What he found amazed and impressed him: Homo Erectus and Homo neanderthalensis, the ice age, early forms of art, the birth of modern agriculture, the origin of modern civilizations, and more.
"Reading about history puts my life in perspective for sure. At this moment, after 56 years, I'm living in only a small fraction of the entirety of the world's timeline. It's as if my entire existence is but a mere speck of dust in the entirety of the world's history…how crazy!"
Thinking about the world's history caused Samuel to reflect on his life. His mind flashed back to various events, including his marriage to his now-deceased wife, the birth of his first son, multiple vacations with his family, his fortieth birthday party, and, most recently, his youngest daughter leaving home.
"All of these memories are precious to me. Even if my existence is arguably insignificant in the entirety of the course of the world's history, they are still important to who I am now. Plus, even if there's no defined meaning to life, I think an individual finding meaning for themselves is a good substitute. I guess writing is my meaning, so I'd better get back and research world cultures."
Samuel then Puggled 'culture around the world' and began to read about various topics, such as different food, clothing, traditions, and beliefs.
"Even though we live in a globalized society, it's interesting how uniquely different areas of the world are. Over here, we drink alcohol and eat meat with no issue. But in other cultures, they see it as taboo. I wonder what other things cultures think about our country's practices. Certainly food for thought. Anyway, I should get back to reading."
Information accumulated all around him at an incremental rate, and he had a tough time efficiently processing everything. As it had been over an hour and a half, Samuel decided to take a quick break to go on a walk in the nearby park and relax his weary mind and body.
While walking near a small pond, he noticed a tiny mallard duckling by itself, making sharp, rhythmic quacking sounds. The sounds gave off a melancholy tone, which caused Samuel to think deeply.
"I think I know how the little duck feels," Samuel thought to himself. "The feeling of being truly alone is an awful emotion to struggle with. It's hard not to feel vulnerable and lonely sometimes, even though I still have people involved in my life."
As he started to walk away from the duckling, he noticed a small handful of grown mallards fly across the pond and approach the duckling. Samuel smiled from this positive turn of events and thought to himself,
"Well, I guess most of us have at least a few people who care about us, huh? I probably should be doing more to show everyone I care about how much I appreciate their company."
Samuel arrived back at his home to continue brainstorming. As he read about various cultures worldwide, he decided to narrow his search more and Puggle 'world religions.' He was astonished to find out how many different beliefs and branches of religions were in existence. Of the twelve classical world religions, he realized he knew next to nothing about most of them. The only significant religions he was familiar with were the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
"Wow, there are so many different religions and sub-groups of religions around the world. It seems like me, and almost everyone I know is Christian. Being exposed to these other world religions I know nothing of is interesting and a real cultural eye-opener. I'll have to read more about all of these different beliefs."
For the next hour or so, his eyes were only on his monitor. As he kept reading, he could not help but find different religions' concepts of an afterlife fascinating.
"I don't know if there's an afterlife, but I do know the only way I can be pleased with and proud of myself as a human being right now is to do everything in my power to live an ethical, positive life. If a god or gods exist and they truly are just, I would like to think they would accept me for who I am and what I am doing in my limited time here on Earth."
Samuel noticed it was starting to get late, so he decided it was an excellent time to get something to eat. Walking over to his refrigerator, he pulled out a package of ground beef.
"I remember the time little James opened up a package of ground beef and started playing with it when he was five. He called it a 'brown, gooey toy.' I was annoyed then because we couldn't eat hamburgers, but now I wish to return to those times. It's a strange feeling." Feeling a bit downcast, he began to cook the ground beef in a shabby, well-used skillet. After Samuel prepared the meat and ate his tacos, he returned to his desk and continued researching.
"Well, I just did some research on past world events, so I should look into more modern events." Samuel Puggled 'current events' and found many relevant facts. He regularly followed the news, so most of the events he read were familiar to him: political happenings, acts of terrorism, deaths of well-known individuals, mass killings, and more.
"There are always so many negative news reports in the media. I know they are trying to present and describe events in a certain way to fit an agenda, but you'd think there would be more positive events. It can be depressing and probably why so many young kids nowadays don't want to read the news and follow world events.
He continued to look over the news and read the comment section of some of the articles. Many of the comments were people saying how they were offended by the content posted in the report.
"I always want to know the brutal truth, no matter how horrible, but I suppose I can see why some people prefer a comfortable lie. People are way too sensitive about everything nowadays, nevertheless. When I was younger, you rarely heard anyone complain about things being too offensive. We just accepted how things were and moved on. Censorship merely for the sake of appeasing the weak-minded is a step in the wrong direction toward building a better world, I think."
As he read away at various news stories, he soon noticed it was past 9 pm and decided to research one more topic before sleeping.
"I've now looked into everything I wanted to from the past and the present. I suppose it'd be a good idea to look at predictions for the future."
He Puggled 'future predictions' and was surprised to find far more predictions than he thought. He spent the next forty-five minutes reading about various predictions, such as prominent uses of artificial intelligence, space exploration, and, ultimately, the death of the universe.
"Reading about the potential future is awesome, but it's kind of morbid to think, in the end, the universe will continue expanding with nothing but photons, neutrinos, electrons, positrons, and a whole lot of darkness. At least it will be long after I'm dead. I've probably only got around 30 years or so left to live. Memento mori, huh? I'd best use the time I have left to enjoy my life, spend time with loved ones, and write a few more novels I can be proud that I wrote. But for now, I'd better get to bed since it's getting late."
Samuel went to bed and fell asleep almost instantly. It was a long day, but he learned much from reading and reflecting on his research. The next day came, and he awoke feeling refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
"I spent most of the entire day yesterday reading in front of a computer monitor. While it's great that I learned a good amount of information yesterday, I really ought to talk with someone. A life of too much solitude will drive any man mad."
He picked up his phone and called his old friend, Don Goode, and asked if he wanted to get lunch. Don agreed, and he left to meet with him. The pair met at a local buffet, The Big Beautiful Bad Boy Buffet, which featured a goofy, animated high school-age delinquent straight out of the 1980s as its mascot.
"I've always enjoyed this place," said Don with a large grin, "the atmosphere is always friendly, and no one actually acts like a delinquent! Don let out a small chuckle, "So anyway, Sam, what's up? How have you been, man," he asked with an inquiring look.
"I've been well. I spent most of the day yesterday researching a book I would like to write."
"Oh yeah, what's it going to be about?"
"I'm not entirely sure yet, but I'd like to write something about the world and life around us. I ended up thinking a bit too much about the past yesterday, though," Samuel said with a flat expression.
"Why not write about your life, Sam? You've had some pretty interesting things happen over the last five decades from what you've told me."
"Would people want to read about my life, though? I know I have a fairly solid reader base, but I'm not sure what the appeal of reading about me would be, honestly."
"Tell your own life stories the way you've told them to me. I don't know how well it'll sell, but at least it's something that will be easy for you to write, right? Errr….no homophone intended!" Samuel grinned at Don's lame, yet unintentional, joke.
"Well, I suppose I could write an autobiography in my spare time. I'd like to have it be more personal, though, and talk about thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics, though."
"Eh, well, you could do that, as well. Make it into somewhat of a hybrid autobiography-opinion piece."
"You know what? You're right. It'll be a fun change of pace from the more serious fiction stories I write. I think I'll call it…."
Three months have passed, and Samuel wrote and published A Life of Love, Laughter, Loss, and Longing: An Autobiography last week. It is receiving positive reviews from critics, and sales have been moderately high.
The Rambunctious Reader proclaimed, "This is arguably Seemann's best work to date. While it may not be a work of fiction like his past works, L5 is an enjoyable read, well thought out, and, most importantly, a very personal work." Many other publications have agreed with this statement and have written similar opinions.
After feeling accomplished from the reception and sales of the book, Samuel has decided to retire from writing to spend more time with his friends and family. He had spent much of the last three decades writing, and he hopes he will spend at least another three among good company.