At the last moment, again, but didn't have access to a computer. Hope you all enjoy the story and I'd appreciate it if you have any comments or criticism :).
“It’s actually the Milky Way,” said John. “That line over there that’s barely visible.”
I glanced the way he was pointing and thought I saw the bright line he was talking about.
“Wow, it’s really beautiful.”
“You know,” he turned his head towards me as he began talking. The wind was gently blowing through the fresh spring grass, making it appear as though it was carefully caressing his face. “Whenever I look at the night sky I feel like I’m under a dome. Like all these stars are all around me and I’m just this little insignificant thing that walks aimlessly through life.”
“Yeah.” I answered.
I knew just what he was talking about. Whenever I felt too overwhelmed by those around me, I went outside to the nearest park and just laid there, on the ground, looking at the sky. If it was during daytime, I would let my imagination run wild and imagine figures in the clouds, making up stories in my head about how they were significant to my life, what they represented and how they related to me. However, during the nighttime was the time my existential dread hit me. I would see the stars and constellations not as something linking me to my ancestors or my past or whatever, but as a beautifully shining roof, a limit to my imagination, trapping me in someone else’s snow globe. I felt as though I wasn’t in control of my life, as if I was a puppet to the whims of those unmovable forever-living stars that just want to entertain themselves a little bit.
“Hey, how do you feel about religion?” I asked him, following my line of thoughts out loud.
“I don’t know. I never really questioned my upbringing. I don’t really believe in the kind of god who leaves his creations to the whims of their faulty morals and then punishes them for where they ended up without his help. Though, I do like the moral codes it enforces in people who only want to do something not for the experience but for the price”
“Well,” as I looked him in the eyes I was surprised to see genuine interest. I wasn’t really used to someone other than me taking my philosophical musings seriously. “If you really think about it that is the point of every religion – making moral codes unquestionable and easy to digest. But, you know, where’s the point in living if you don’t question its very point. Even if you don’t find the answer to your questions you do find your true self, your core values, in the search for them.”
John turned his head towards the sky again, chuckling, removing himself from the partner dance with the careless grass.
“I honestly don’t know. I like the idea of it, of taking for granted that there is a good all-powerful being out there, in outer space, that looks down on me and steers me clear of the unwise decisions.”
It was my turn to quietly laugh, still looking at him.
“Haven’t you really considered that maybe, if there was an all-powerful, all-loving being out there, it could just as easily be out there in space, as it could be in you? You know, maybe they left a piece of themselves, the positive, happy, sometimes almost prophetic part of us, to guide us through the messy and heartbreaking world we have created for ourselves and to give us those abstract experiences like love and affection and hope.”
“Do you believe in a god? Because it sure sounds like it.” John lowered his gaze, not really looking at me, but not really looking at the sky either, the almost-there line of the Milky Way behind him.
“No, organized religion is not really my thing. I appreciate its overall message, but I’m not really into the heavy and depressing, centuries-old history that burdens me with the choices of the strangers before me. That’s why I like philosophy, though. It’s like, philosophers are thinking people that are just that. People. They don’t really associate themselves with a movement, we do. They just threw their thoughts into the void so they wouldn’t go mad with the realization that none of it matters. That even though life is meaningless and our individual lives are just a blip in the Universe’s story we have to keep on keeping on because we are human and we have the need to validate our meaningless existence by making the most of it.”
“But don’t you make yourself depressed by that line of thought? I feel like just by listening to you I’m about to have a panic attack and those thoughts come from your head, meaning you probably marinated in them for weeks.” John was still keeping up the lightheartedness in his tone but I could feel he was interested in my opinion.
“You know me, dude. I live in a never-ending existential crisis that I’m just too interested in to ever let go.”
“But there were religious philosophers.” John remarks. “You may regard their point of thinking as naïve and appropriate to their time, but they do exist and they were a quintessential part of philosophy.”
“I never said that just because they believed in a higher being they weren’t philosophers. But, you know, just because they were important parts of the formation of this vital way of questioning the world that doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. As I said, that’s why I like them. They weren’t regarded as all-powerful or claimed themselves to know everything, they just dared to question our existence, how we experience it and why we choose to execute it the way we do. Just because I disagree with them doesn’t mean I don’t look up to their intelligence and courage. My opinion just differs from theirs.”
“If I can assure you in anything it would be that your opinion differs from most people. It may be needlessly depressing but it is unique.”
I felt like he was trying to end the conversation abruptly so I looked him directly in the eyes questioningly.
“Hey, John, what’s wrong?”
He looked back at me pointedly and smiled almost regretfully.
“The ship’s been signaling for us to go back up there for a while, but I was having too good of a time to leave you alone.”
“Well, don’t let me keep you down here, we don’t want you to be left behind because of my endless babbling.”
“It’s not really babbling if it’s compelling and you are well aware I always look forward to our conversations.” as he was saying that his skin began to glimmer slightly, making him appear almost ethereal.
“Yeah, whatever, just, you know, send me some kind of a signal when you’re back on Earth, I wouldn’t mind talking your ears off with my existentially dreadful thoughts.”
“As if you weren’t well aware that your depressive point of view combined with your endlessly positive personality is my favorite puzzle regarding the human mind.” John’s answered, his smile now playful and his skin almost translucent.
“You know, I’m here just for your delight.”
“A funny man, as always. I’ll see you soon, Brian.”
With that, my extraterrestrial friend vanished from my sight and, again, I was left alone to the sound of my own thoughts. The wind kept on playing its careful game with the fresh grass, undisturbed by John’s disappearance, almost like he was a figment of my overactive imagination.