01532: Wisdom Comes from the Desert

Man that was one heck of a Monday night shift. The weekend feels farther away than ever.

Moving on.

There's a lot on my mind right now and it's never easy to sort through it. Thankfully it's not about work. Unfortunately, it's not about work. And in times like this, I find myself retreating into my books in search of some pearl of wisdom that I may draw strength from (other than Tobie of course).

In Dune, there are three key scenes that are rather striking in my mind. Or at least they seem to be somewhat appropriate for where my brain is going right now.

Early in the book, young Paul Atreides meets the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam for the first time. He intention is to test whether or not Paul is truly human and thus subjects him to the agony box and the test of the gom jabbar. This test involves a tremendous amount of pain and for Paul to prove he is human, he must endure the pain without withdrawing his hand from the box or flinch his head away. In either case, the Reverend Mother will jab him with the needle of the gom jabbar and he will die instantly.

In another sequence, Paul defeats the Fremen Jamis after the Fremen had challenged him to an honor duel. And during his moment of victory, his mother Jessica chooses this moment to teach a lesson of her own. With Jamis being carried away to be rendered into water, Jessica asks her son how it feels like to be a killer, thus reminding him of the truth of what he had just done - taking another man's life.

And lastly, I jump forward to God Emperor of Dune, the fourth book in the series. The central character here is Leto II, whose words append every email that I end or every forum post that I publish. His fate in the Dune universe was a rather tragic one given he had to undertake what would come to be known as his Golden Path. He had the hardest lesson of all to teach humanity and one that would leave to be known as a Tyrant to almost every single citizen of the Known Universe.

But the Golden Path is not an easy one. It involves repressing humanity in order to force them to evolve and progress and ultimately defeat him - or something like that. Admittedly the full extent of the Golden Path is never truly revealed in detail and we readers are left to speculate as to what his true goals were and why he had to carry such a heavy burden. And given near-immortality and almost universal hatred, you can imagine it's a pretty sucky life.

Life is full of hard lessons that we all have to learn. It would be easy to just let each person deal with their respective issues and try not to care about anyone else. But we weren't built that way and sooner or later we make connections to other people and thus our fates are joined. And then there are those that we come to love in life - those that we establish emotional bonds with. These are things that connect us that do not easily go away.

Not everyone has the strength of character to become a teacher of life's harsher lessons. Not everyone feels they even need to take on the role. I'm not quite sure where I fall here - at least not yet.

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