Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta world. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta world. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2018

Dragon Valley

   The real treasure of the mountains was hidden beyond the highest peaks, in a very difficult to reach valley. The water there was the purest in the world and those who went there had, in general, no intention of going back. The monastery of the valley of the Dragon was the crown jewel of the mountain range, covered in gold leaf and constructed for thousands of years, with the help of every single monk that had ever arrived there to dedicate his or her life to the cause of enlightenment and knowledge.

 Men and women were allowed in the temple and they were not segregated in any way. Actually, people of every single ethnicity had at one point lived there as a monk. It was a welcoming community, who had no interest in the personal lives of their people. They only lived to achieve the highest state of knowledge and compassion. They believed humanity existed to learn all that it could and to teach others about the wonders of the universe. They thought that teaching and learning were the pillars of any civilized society.

 That’s why, once in a lifetime for every single monk, they had to live the monastery and journey to the outside world in order to teach somewhere whatever they thought people had to learn. Some went to the villages in the outskirts of the mountain range. Meanwhile, others were more adventurous and traveled further, to enormous cities and remote towns where they felt they could make a real connection with people. Each one decided the destination on his or her own, no obligations attached, except for one.

 They always had to come back. The life of the monks of the Valley of the Dragon was forever tied to the monastery. After a year outside, they were obliged to come back and dedicate the rest of their lives to further learning and teaching, in the form of writing books or painting illustrative art. They could also help restoring the building, as it was getting very old or they could even attempt to take care of the few crops and animals that they had in that remote space so far into the mountain, so high up too.

 Most of the monks never had a problem with coming back to their monastery. After all, it was there where they had felt the ray of enlightenment for the first time and that was a sensation no one could really forget or dismiss so easily. That’s why they felt compelled to go back and keep helping their fellow monks and humanity in their quest to be more cultured and aware of the wisdom that was in all things. However, they had been various exceptions of monks not coming back the moment they were supposed to, which was dealt with in the most sensitive but also serious way their community could.

 They would send another monk to the place were the person that didn’t want to go back was and they attempted to talk to them in order to understand why they want to stay in the outside world. They would hear the complaints and the thought of their fellow brothers and sisters and then they would try to make them realize how all of their fears came from places of insecurity and not from any hatred or ill will against their faith. After such a profound conversation, most runaway monks would come to their senses and head back home.

 But yes, they were very few that even after the conversation had no intention of going back. Maybe they had remembered what they had missed from the outside world and they just wanted to experience all of that more permanently. Complaints of that nature were unfounded as the monastery had found a way to use technology in their own advantage, for example protecting the most ancient texts with the help of very advances machines and using the internet to further their cause and connect with others seeking the same goal.

 The monastery had actually been in contact with several universities in the world and they would often send their monks to those places in their year of teaching, in order to exchange ideas and learn from others who were also seeking the answers in nature. It was mutually beneficial and it was an experience that could make a person grow beyond his or hers wildest dreams. Maybe even love would be born from such exchanges and the monastery welcomed it with open arms. They were not celibate.

 In recent years, the monastery had allowed the construction of small huts all around the Dragon Valley in order to accommodate some families that had decided to live there permanently. Life was much simpler, filled with hard work but with a sense of being able to actually help people in a meaningful way. That’s why every monk could decide when and where to go for his teaching year. It was left open to their choices in order to let them feel their way through life, not based on what others said.

 However, the place was still remote. Technology had also been used in order to install disruptors in the vicinity of the mountains, in order for satellite imagery to be unavailable for the whole area and to render high-tech equipment obsolete if someone wanted to find the valley through “easier” means. Whoever wanted to join the order had to do it with conviction, by foot and with effort. It couldn’t be in any other way. Men, women and children were all equals in that way and it happened to be the best way to make a proper selection of who deserved to be there and who didn’t.

 Dragon Valley was therefore a small fragment of the world that most people had never seen or even heard of in their lives. Sometimes it sounded like a myth or a legend, and people would even dismiss it as fictional. That wasn’t a problem for the people that lived there, at all.

 They would live their lives trying hard to actually have something to show for after years of studying and learning from the world around them. They tried not to just be here, doing things, but actually trying to hear the world and also speaking back to it. Their lives were always filled with purpose.

miércoles, 11 de abril de 2018

What is content?

   The world today is all about making things, producing whatever it is you want in the hopes that someone, somewhere, would want to own in some way, whatever it is you have made. Content creation is the biggest thing nowadays and the fun part of it all is that the ones who create that content are not even good at creating anything. They just grab the best parts of what interests people the most and they mash that up together in order to create something that will attract people to it.

 Usually, content means videos, texts and pictures, all trying to call your attention into something you are probably interesting in. There so many things around right now, that we can say for sure that there is something for everyone. Is not like in the past when people had to go places to look for what they liked and maybe what they liked was not widely available or was even forbidden. Nowadays, every single kind of content is available in your home, without even moving from your bed.

 And people complain about that. Actually, they have two ways of complaining: they want more information, even easier to attain at every single moment in their lives and every single place in the planet. But others want the opposite. As always in human history, there’s always a group, a very vocal one, that advocates for a return to the old days when everything was done by hand and when people didn’t have the same freedoms they have today. They phrase it differently but you know what I mean.

 I won’t say that these kind of people want less freedoms and less information, because many of them just want to be freed from things like social media and the pressures of modern life, but I bet there are some of them who don’t really like the fact that information gives freedom, it gives us power to know that there’s something better out there. Information is knowledge and knowledge is a big power that can never be underestimated. Just ask the ones that have used it to their advantage.

 Of course, not every single piece of information is valuable; just as not every single piece of content is good or even worth a look. We are being dumped tons and tons of shit every single day into our mind, by people and even by computer generated automatic services that read into what we like and enjoy, deciding then to sell us whatever it is they are pushing somewhere in the world or maybe closer to home. Maybe they want us to buy tickets for a sport event, or music from various artists. Maybe they even want us to buy time with some other person or a game that can shield us from the pressures mentioned before.

 This world is surprising in that it has some things that are surprising, amazing if you will, but there are others that have always remained the same. For one, our naiveté is still a big problem when someone else wants us to believe in whatever it is they are talking about or whatever they are trying us to do.  We are still very much a silly little creature that had the luck to evolve into something a little bit more versatile and interesting. And yet, we still like to believe what we know are lies.

 Maybe its because people have gotten used to having everything at hand, just in front of them, so they have left their defense mechanisms in a dark corner inside their minds, where it cannot help them when someone wants to take advantage of them. Humans have decided, actively, to let their guard down and just enjoy all the good things of being the most evolved creature on the planet’s surface. Sadly enough, there are bad things too and there are many bad humans around to make our lives not like a dream.

 But we were talking about content. And how does this all relate to that? Very simple: the content machine that has been created, where people ask for “community managers” in their companies, is all about trying to make us thing one thing that may not be true. Actually, it’s mostly never true. We are now offered various options and we have to decide which one is the real one, which will make us happy for sure. And when we decide, we mostly choose the most visual striking option.

 That’s because we are humans, we are attracted to everything that goes inside our heads through our eyes. It has always been like that, ever since publicity was created and all the attempts to sell whatever it is they were selling. Because you can better believe that every single piece of content today wants to sell you something. Only a small fraction has been created for your pure enjoyment and even that can be put into question. It’s all about buying, about exchanges between people that can go right or wrong.

 But the truth is that we don’t really mind at all. We don’t care what it is they want to do with us. We just conclude that it is all a tale trying to make us feel scared about big companies and the government and how the mighty God of capitalism works. Our reaction is one of contempt for the ones that try to warn us about the bad things behind this society that has become a huge marketplace where everything is exchanged, no matter what. There is always a buyer and there is always someone selling exactly what we are looking for, what we want the most.

 We don’t know how else to live anymore. If everything disappeared tomorrow, many people would collapse on the spot, not knowing what to expect from the world. And that’s very important, because people feel safe in this huge marketplace, they know how everything works and they like that. The unknown has only ever attracted a very small amount of people, the real adventure of not knowing what lies beyond. Most of us like a good routine and we stick to it even if we complain daily about it.

Well, that’s what content is all about. It’s brings a cozy feeling to people that sometimes think the world might be going down any day now. That’s why even the news coverage in general has changed, in order to adapt reality, those things that we always thought that they couldn’t be manipulated. History changes or at least the way we look at it. Our perspective is no longer ours, but someone else’s, someone behind a computer who wrote exactly what we are going to think about a certain subject.

 And I have bad news: they have succeeded. Because people are not critical anymore, they just listen and listen, read and read, they think they are building their own opinion but they are not. They are just choosing what they like from what they’ve heard and seen, not really digging deep into anything. That’s too much work.

 That’s how we live nowadays. So if we can still fight, making the kind of content that is free from everything and every form, maybe that way we can still have a little window of hope. Maybe that way we can actually give people hope for the future and even for a present that looks like one thing but that is most likely something else.

viernes, 15 de diciembre de 2017

Resistance and downfall

   When the dust settled, there was nothing to rally behind of, nothing to support us another day, not a rock or a person. There was nothing. When they blew it up, they destroyed everything we had believed in for so long. It was a strike deep in our hearts, resonating thousand of kilometers in every direction, where many others would also feel that hope had died and darkness had descended upon us to stay. We were in such disbelief, that they took advantage of our pain to come and destroy us.

 Those men and women were not the kind to take prisoners or to torture. They just killed every single person that tried anything against them and they had the best memory to ensure they would never forget how someone had wronged them. And that was what we had done. They had been the predominant power in the universe and we had tried to take them down, we had tried to stop them from making us penetrate into the abyss they wanted everyone to be in and they didn’t like us doing that.

 For a time, before all of this happened, we lived a life of relative peace and quiet. It would be a lie to day we all lived in harmony, because we didn’t. We just didn’t find interesting to disrupt someone else’s existence, unless it threatened our own. Our existence was not an easy one but we tried to make ends meet by using our wit and ability to cope with every single human thing that tried to tie our hands and prevents us from going forward. Maybe that’s how it started.

 At first, they were only a handful of people, but it started to grow exponentially when they made it into the media, into the information channels that every single intelligent creature used. You have to grant it to them: they used that in their best advantage and soon enough they rallied hundreds, then thousand of people in order to do what they wanted. It was one of those things you ignore at first but then they become so overwhelming and obvious, that you cannot just turn your head away.

 They started with fights and then with proper skirmishes. Now, we battle every so often with heavy artillery and our uniforms on, trying to change the tide one-way or the other. It has to be confessed that it doesn’t really seem to be working in anyone’s favor. We seemed to have stalled and it doesn’t seem like any of the sides knows where to look for the next step. However, with the destruction of our most sacred site, things will change in a new way, one that we haven’t yet seen and it’s very scary. Maybe they knew what to do all along and we were just pieces of a game.

 Being a prisoner is bad, of course, but we would prefer that option against the real one, the only one they give us: death. Facing that is not easy for all of us. Some have already decided they want to embrace it but others are too young or too afraid to actually walk into a battlefield and decide to die. So, when we were caught off guard by the destruction of our temple, they killed a big bunch of us but others ran towards the granite hills and hid there, moving through caves, trying to live another day.

 They eventually left, feeling there was no use in finding every single one of us to be killed. It’s obvious they realized that, without food, we wouldn’t be able to survive for long. And even if we did, such a small group of people had no power to overthrow the power hungry machine they had become. They were virtually unstoppable now and every other living being knew what they had to do in order to survive, and no other person could say anything about it, because we all wanted to keep living.

 The caves became our home and, as time passed, we were able to go outside and harvest foods we had never eaten before but we had to learn to enjoy them, for our sake. Many people had learned to grow other foods there and they also found water. In time, we had a small community that seemed to go unnoticed by the rest of existence. For a time, again, we were happy and we thought everything had gone back to what it was. We thought that, maybe, we had been given another chance.

 However, that was not the case. We were awaken one morning by the sounds of heavy artillery and then came the bombs. Our population was still small so two or three bombs easily killed most of our people. Those who weren’t killed, we tried to push them off for a while, in order to let others escape or maybe we thought someone was coming to the rescue, which didn’t make any sense at all. In time, they came through and the rest of our little group was almost completely destroyed.

 The only person that remained was I. Their leader in person came down to meet me and force me to bend the knee and sweat loyalty to him. He knew, very well, that it had been me who had started this whole thing; it had been my fault that so many brave men and women were now dead. It was my fault that our world had sunken into a deep darkness that would never go away. He knew how bad I felt about it all and he had come to make me say it out loud, not only to him but also to every other soldier on his side to hear. Because they had been on my side once.

 I did. I confessed my crimes and tried hard to redeem myself by asking forgiveness. But I didn’t ask him to forgive me; I did not ask that to his soldiers either. I was telling that to my people, to the ones that had been beside me for a long time and now they had paid with their lives. They had entrusted me with their faith and their lives and I hadn’t been able to correspond in any way, I had just grabbed their lives and used them as cards one uses in a cheap and lousy game of chance.

 As I cried, the man that had become the leader of the new world came to me, gave me his hand and carried me into his vessel. Inside, I was put on chains and treated like an animal, even worse. I was done and I wanted death to be forced upon me, but it seemed like he had finally realized that just death is not punishment enough. He wanted me to really need death, he wanted me to beg for it every single day of my life and he would be able to deny me that privilege.

 In time, I became something you cannot call a human anymore. I was much less than that. I was a shadow of everything mankind had ever amounted to. I just sat on my corner, in a dark cell, and thought about every single thing that had ever happened before my very eyes. There were happy moments but mostly fear and dread. I was haunted by the remains of the people I had failed to and the ones I had lead to their deaths. They blamed me and I could never disagree with them.

 I became increasingly weak and feeble, even to the point my mind started to go a little bit. The leader would come sometimes and watch me, ask me questions or just stare, as a disgusted costumer looks at a circus freak. He knew I wanted death and he would still deny it. There was something inside of him, something that remained from the past and seemed to be buried deep within him, some kind of grudge or maybe it was something completely different. I never really knew.

 Our vessel was destroyed one day, by armies that had been hiding and resisting the darkness that had befallen on the world. They had rallied, in silence, and their moment to attack had come in the exact moment I had been finally granted my death.

 I died anyway, but it was a different thing altogether. It was better. After all, it was them that needed to take revenge on me, after I had almost destroyed everything that they had tried to build. I had been the killer of their families and friends. So it was fair, in the end of the day, for them to kill me.

viernes, 17 de noviembre de 2017

Cry of death

   When rain came down the forest, it scrapped off the first layer of every tree. This gave the trees a really scary look, as if they were bleeding from their whole body. It was the reality of the world now, where acid rain had gotten worse. Plants and animals were having a very difficult time surviving the new state of things. In other parts it wasn’t much better. There was sand where there used to be farmland and many islands had disappeared far from the continents. It was a new world.

 Gaby was one of the many women that had decided to form a team to go into the forest every day in the morning in order to pick up as many fruits and mushrooms as they could. They were rare and fragile, so they needed the soft and delicate hands to pick them up from the ground or grab them from the tallest branches. The men, as always, had been doubtful of the enterprise at first but they eventually came around when noticing that everyone had to work in order to survive.

 Even children helped by fishing from the streams or picking up berries that were far more resilient that other fruits and would usually grow close to their camps. They had changed, as humanity had done before, into a nomad kind of people. They would built small towns from old plastics and some wood and stay in the same place for at least six months, at most a year. After that, they scouted for new places to live and then they would just move out, all at once, to start again.

 Gaby had been one of the first women in the morning team and she had already learned the many ways of the new forest. They carried books to check if what they were picking up could be eaten or not and they soon learned that many of the fruits that humanity had enjoyed for a long time, were now extinct. Mostly tropical fruits, but also plants that needed a calmer weather to survive. Maybe they still lived in other places of the planet but that seemed almost impossible.

 Animals, on the other hand, were rare now. Some smaller ones could be seen sometimes when walking around the forest such as rats and squirrels. They were resilient little creatures. But the tall trees had been deprived of other mammals such as monkeys and finding a bird was almost impossible. Their beautiful chants had been silenced. Nature clearly had no place for such delicate creatures anymore. It was a reminder that humanity’s days could be over sooner than expected. But people would still try to live another day, one step at a time.

 Gaby had actually discovered a small woodpecker she had found in the tallest branch of a tree, after picking up some chestnuts she had discovered by accident. She knew for a fact that many of the children and elders would love to eat such a strange thing but it was then when she saw the little bird, with a broken wing. She looked at it for a long time until one of her teammates called from her from the ground. Gaby opened her small bag and put the bird inside, hoping it wouldn’t make a noise.

 This has to be explained further. As bird reminded humans that their immediate future could be extinction, running into a bird wherever they went would be seen as a bad omen. People still had those strange beliefs that came out of nowhere. They were normally things based only on fear and feeling related to such contempt for things alien to ourselves. Birds became a sign of death and an undesirable future, so people left them to die when they found one, never minding the greater meaning of life.

 When she hit the ground, Gaby still had the chestnuts in her hand. She put them fast inside the bag and kept to her work for the rest of the morning. Some black clouds of rain loomed over them and it was decided they should be back home as soon as possible as they had neglected to bring special covers that resisted the acid in the rain. They made it in time and realized the men had also arrived, which was extremely uncommon as they normally spend their days in caves or deep in the forest, where the rain had trouble reaching them.

 They were all reunited in the biggest house in the camp, which was normally used for important matters. As rain started to fall, the men told the women that they had found something very strange in the forest. The women listened in silence, as the men told them they had discovered an abandoned power plant. They had investigated inside the place and, apparently, it was in perfect condition. It generated energy using the waters of a small lake, enclosed by a huge concrete wall.

 That was the problem. The rain, that was making a horrible roaring sound, was the one causing the huge wall to have small holes all over. This made the whole basin below a very dangerous place to stay and it was there they had been living for at least four months. The concrete wall could break at any moment so it was imperative to escape the basin to another place. For the last two years they had been following the same river, slowly, but it was clear they needed to travel further this time in order to find a proper place to live permanently, as nomadism was not sustainable.

 The women had taking advantage of this story in order to leave the food they had found in small pile in the center of the house. It was clearly not enough for everyone but they had all grown accustomed to the lack of food. It was then when Gaby remembered the woodpecker in her bag and checked on it for a bit, when everyone was looking at the men telling the story. She kept a chestnut for it and tried to close the bag as well as she could in order for the small bird to be kept a secret.

 Everyone agreed that it was necessary to leave for another place as a tragedy could happen anytime. They decided to pick up everything they could grab with them and start walking as soon as they rain had stop. Not everyone had fabric to protect themselves from the rain, but those who did decided to go back to their houses and prepare for the evacuation. Gaby was one of those, and she ran as fast as she could in order to properly check on her bird. She lived with other girls her age, but they didn’t mind her closing her door when she entered.

 She finally put out the little bird and noticed it was still trying to flap its broken wing. However, it seemed a little happier than before, maybe because it had eaten half the chestnut she had left for it inside the bag. She looked at it very close and the bird seemed to do the same. They kept their silence, only breathing slowly and moving their eyes from one place to the other. She was amazed to see how bright its feathers were and how small it was. But she knew it had to be different before.

 She took a book from her bookshelf and opened it in a page about birds. Although there was no picture of a woodpecker, it showed a similar bird and stated it was at least twice as big as they one that was curling up on her bed. It looked really cute right there, looking at her at closing its eyes, visibly tired but also happy to have had something to eat. It seemed so fragile, a little bit as the children of the small town who had no spark in their eyes anymore, just a glaring sad look.

 Then, Gaby heard footsteps nearby. She looked at the window and realized there was no more rain on the other side. Just in time, she grabbed the small bird and put it inside her bag, along with a few other things from her shelf, which made her seemed worried when other girls entered the room.

 An hour later, a large group of people was crossing the woods. They thought they had been able to escape their doom but then a strange sound was heard all over the woods, which made the woodpecker cry for the first time. It was a clear cry of death.