Last Man Standing
Let’s play a game.
In front of you lies a landscape of undiscovered possibilities. Its topography is new to you, shapes stretch out and bend over themselves revealing streets and cul-de-sacs of unclear intention. This land has already been inhabited, nestled in various clumps its population is gathered as numbers, objects and trinkets that punctuate its geography - small totems like notes on a score marking a yet-defined purpose. You take a minute, you breath - deeply, standing still at the edge of this new territory waiting to forge ahead.
You are not alone. Others stand beside you, some have been here before – they know the ways of this place. The rest are just as uncertain as you are. You suss them out, a quick glance up and down, a subtle twitch, a muscle spasm as they stand primed and impatient to start.
The ones that know this place tell you of its customs, they smile and nod encouragingly at your questions, but this is just a formality, you know they will take advantage of your naivety at the first opportunity. After all is there is one rule you know for certain – only one of you can last until the end.
And so you begin. As you travel the hills and valleys of this landscape its language begins to osmose into you. Customs that at first looked strange now reveal their function as something crystal clear. You are betrayed, set back, hard lessons are drilled into you. But you become stronger. You charge pass others, banishing any of the hesitance that existed in your first tentative steps, and a feeling swells in your gut – a hunger to reach the end, to compete, to touch its furthest reach before the others. Someone will get there first. Probability says it won’t be you. But you want it. God you want it.
And then it ends. In a flurry of activity there is no more striving to be done. Not this time anyway. So you begin again, to test and retest new water. Part of you longs for a time when the land was new, when discovering its contours was thrill enough. But you know better now, you’ve been taught well. As you watch the uninitiated appear over the horizon you welcome them with an enthusiastic wave, smiling to yourself at the many ways in which you will clamber over them when they fall.