Living literary phenom Paulo Coehlo post to his blog recently a short story written by the deceased writer of equal magnitude, Kahlil Gibran. In this "thirty-second read," we encounter a man in an insane asylum who appears neither deranged nor demented. The narrator asks the man why he's in the asylum, and the man replies that he entered of his own will. "At least here I can be myself," he says.
English director Erik Till defined this "sanity" that Kahlil's character rejects and refuses as "the insanity most call normality, put forth by society."
"Show me a sane man and I will cure him," is Carl Jung's opinion on the matter.
All sorts of geniuses seem to agree, sanity is to be avoided.
Following this advice, and borrowing the narrative backbone provided by Gibran, I've written the story below. Please enjoy, and thank you for being here.
Image: Woods Walker by Alyssa Hinton
Through wild green gardens of sun-drenched forest, I walked in wandering reverie. Til suddenly, center within this faultless wilderness, appeared an iron gate. It was modest in size, though ornate in design; roses of all colors poked their heads between its bars, and, tied into the filigree, gauzy, white ribbons suspended a cut of wood. Engraved beautifully with calligraphy it read, "INSANE ASYLUM:" Below it, in plain print: "Enter at your own risk."
My head pried to the side when I realized that there was neither fence nor wall to accompany this gate. Ribboned and rose-dripping, the gate stood alone; the forest appeared the same on either side. Yet I felt compelled to make my passage through it. I turned the heavy knob and the weight of the gate swung open. I stepped to the other side. Things felt the same, disappointingly so. But as I closed the gate it clanged shut, and with that clang I felt the presence of eyes upon me.
Looking up, I saw a young woman reclined in perfect ease atop the remains of an enormous fallen tree. The tree had been carved into a wide hollow - bowl-like for just such lounging - with intricate carvings of flowers and vines decorating its exterior. In the woman's drooping hand, a book of philosophy.
Though her fair and pleasant face was smiling, I hesitated. "Would I be suspicious of this woman," I wondered, "were it not for the sign on the gate?" Still, I moved towards her, which felt only natural, and as I did so she adjusted her posture to make room for me. My hand slid effortlessly along leather-soft branches as I lowered myself to sit down beside her.
At first we did not speak. I was thankful for the birdsong. I looked to the golden light streaking through the treetops towering overhead, until finally I looked to her. She didn't look dangerous at all.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
Her face expressed a subtle surprise, but seeing that I was only curious, she replied: "It’s very simple. I live here." Then she added, "Thank you for visiting me."
"Where are the other inmates?" I asked.
"It's just me here," she answered.
"Are there doctors? Nurses?"
"Also me," she smiled. "Sure, other people come and go, and we take our turns playing the different parts. But I'm the only one who stays, which I must, because I'm the only one who lives here."
"You live here? In the forest?"
She winked at me.
As she seemed amused, I continued my questioning. "What of the gate and the sign, then?"