Wade had a blister that had started out as three separate blisters but had grown into one. He’d run out of energy bars. He was sick of breath-taking views of endless skies above endless valleys. His knees hurt. But he was finally here, outside the guru’s cave, waiting to have the meaning of life explained to him.
He’d first read about the guru Alodu on the Internet. People would write gushing posts about how he had freed them from the nagging doubts, given them a lasting sense of peace. For years now, Wade had been dragging himself through life feeling each moment as itchy with guilt and insecurity. He had visited therapists, taken medication, listened to CDs, but these things only ever felt like a temporary solution, a hiding of his problems, not fixing them. When he heard about Alodu he decided the chance to free himself was worth the price of a flight and a hike. He hadn’t expected the route up the mountain and to the cave to be quite so well signposted. Luckily, since he’d run out of food, there was a fast food kiosk selling burgers, but it felt a little tacky.
He ducked under the cave’s low roof, and was surprised to see a small speccy white man sitting on the floor in a cardigan. He was unimpressive, and Wade felt his hopes deflate as his blisters throbbed.
“So, I’m Alodu,” said the guru, “what’s up?”
This felt all wrong to Wade, but he had rehearsed this speech a hundred times and he wasn’t going to waste the effort.
“I’m plagued,” he said dramatically. Dramatic had seemed right when he planned this conversation on the walk up. However, sharing with this librarian of a man, his head cocked to one side politely, it seemed inappropriate to be dramatic. “I feel like I’ve done and said too much that’s wrong. I want to forget, stop caring and get on with my life, but I can’t stop thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made.”
“That’s unfortunate, “ said Alodu as if he was commenting on something mundane like a traffic jam, rather than Wade’s plagued soul. “Have you tried collecting stamps? I find that soothing.”
Wade shifted awkwardly on his rock, hoping this would convey his lack of satisfaction with this answer.
“Stamps?” he said.
“Yes or perhaps watch some Bob Ross videos about learning to paint, I do like a bit of Bob Ross.”
“Now look here!” snapped Wade, causing the guru to flinch inside his cardigan. “I’ve climbed a bloody mountain, I want better advice than my gran would come up with.”
Alodu looked at him thoughtfully, with infinite patience and calm. Then in hushed tones, whispered,
“You want meaning in your life? Serenity?”
“Have you tried eating steamed broccoli?”
Wade stormed out on his blistered feet. As Alodu watched him go, he said sadly,
“Some people just don’t want to be enlightened.”