Passion is the catalyst to change.
Ishmael tapped the screen and his most recent journal entry faded into deep blue. Yesterday he had ended it with Hope is the catalyst to change. And before that Resolve is the catalyst to change. Every day something different. He had told himself these things for so long and for so long there had been no change.
Maybe he was wrong. Maybe things were good the way they were. Maybe things did not need to change.
He rose and pushed himself across the small near empty room, his cane echoing its jarring ‘rack, rack, rack’ across the brittle smooth floor. He was usually able to ignore the constant pain of his hip—strained by his awkward lope—but on days like this it wore at the corners of his mind and irked him.
His personal quarters, sparse and neat, were punctured by ancient artefacts which were so familiar to him that he rarely saw them. They were like the bits and fragments of known history; mysterious in themselves and so far apart that the gaps between, where one lived, were hopelessly huge. Would they ever know enough?
His Siamese cat, Soul, rose and stretched as Ishmael entered the room. Ishmael stood for a long moment and stared at the beautiful creature. The cat’s tiny paws clenched and relaxed and his long tail flicked gracefully beneath its soft coat of shining fur. The cat was so lithe and agile.
Ishmael left the room. No one met him in the long empty passageways between his quarters and the library. Few people got up as early as he did, and besides, it was the day off.
He brought the lights on brighter than usual, grabbed a hot cup of cocoa and proceeded to his adopted desk in the farthest corner of the library. As a youth, he had enjoyed one of the desks that perched high above on a narrow catwalk where no one usually bothered to go. But now he had to be satisfied with a desk on the ground floor. His climbing days were long over. His desk was, however, by a small private window that looked out into watery blue nothingness.
As he sat down, leaning his cane against the side of the desk and setting the sloshing mug on its holder, he flicked on the screen. In seconds he was staring at the page he had left off on the night before. He stared at it for a moment then leaned away restlessly and sipped his hot cocoa. He was tiered of this research. It never seemed to get him anywhere. He gazed out into the water and finished his cocoa.
When he was done the hot drink, he did not return to the screen. Instead, he stood up, grabbed his cane and stumped away across the empty library; ‘rack, rack, rack’.
He roamed about, waiting for something to catch his attention. For some disk to speak to him or book to call his name. Nothing was new on this floor though. Nothing new. At last he found himself standing, slightly out of breath at the base of one of the metal ladders. He hadn’t tried to climb up in years. Many years.
Too many years.
He dropped his cane and, gripping the cold iron with both hands began laboriously to pull himself up.
Panting but exhilarated he arrived on the first catwalk, more than ten feet from the ground. He pulled himself to his feet on the railing and looking out over the library. He felt a little dizzy at the height. As a lad he had loved being up high. Maybe he had lost that too with age. He looked about him. Everything was new here, but still vaguely familiar. He pulled himself along the walkway till he found another ladder up.
Again he began to climb. Partway up this ladder he stopped. His heart was beating wildly and a cold sweat was condensing on his forehead. Suddenly fear attacked him. What if he couldn’t get back down? Should he try to go down now? But no—he wanted to go up. Higher. He looked down and his stomach revolved a couple times.
Resolve is the catalyst to change.
Resolve. Yes, he must have resolve and continue. Slowly, slowly, like an ancient turtle on a slope, he continued to drag himself up the ladder.