The room is large with high vaulted ceilings and windows that stretch to unimaginable heights. The flames of the torches hanging in their wall sconces bounce off of the walls, casting dancing shadows across the endless shelves of books of and scrolls. Each section is ordered and labeled properly: Preserved scrolls of the great philosophers, tomes that contain the wisdom of wise men and women passed down through the ages, the great classics that have served as the foundation of society, and the latest issue of Marvel’s Avengers to name a few.
They say that knowledge is power. There is always one more thing to know, one more blind spot to cover. If I can learn just one more thing, maybe that will be enough. It will protect me. My books are precious to me; my knowledge invaluable. I pause and run my finger down the spine one of my tomes that says we treat our knowledge as “personal property to be collected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. We take what we know quite seriously.” The author is right, but it doesn’t hurt to know. Does it?
My quest has led me to accumulate all that I want in this pursuit. There are moments where I’m content as I sit at my desk reading and thinking aloud, my own voice echoing back to me through the chamber, confirming for me what I already know. I would consider myself an Expert. No one criticizes my knowledge or what I think I know because my knowledge is bulletproof. Not that they could anyway, for what to they know? Surely nothing close to my own knowledge.
I climb the spiral staircase into the lofts. The chamber is quiet apart from the echoes of my own footsteps. People used to come to me for wisdom on my Subject, saying that as well-read as I am I must have the answer. And why wouldn’t I? They don’t come anymore, but that’s their problem. I can’t help it that they don’t understand my brilliance. Besides, it’s also my own choice. The world is becoming more and more complicated and I would shudder to utter those damnable words: “I don’t know.” The thought makes me sick, causes bile to rise in the back of my throat. Knowledge has cemented my power, my station, my livelihood. My knowledge must remain unquestioned.
I know what I know and what I know is that no one can take me to task if I don’t allow them to ask. And so I reside in my ivory tower, inundated by my own knowledge.
I sit in the armchair nestled in the corner. It’s been years since I locked the door to my tower. I see no need to leave and no need for anyone to come in. The curtains are drawn to block anyone from looking in, but it also blocks me from looking out. Outside of my tower, there is so much uncertainty and so much that is unknown to me. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring unless you cultivate what tomorrow will look like. Nothing new means consistency, comfort, that nothing will challenge you past what you already know.
Yet the comfort is becoming increasingly unsettling. A discontentment with where I am is slowly building in my heart. Outside the window I can hear life going on as the world continues to change. But I like my tower. I love my knowledge. If those are taken away, if those things are challenged, where does it leave me?
“I don’t–” Catching myself, I push the thought away, immediately grabbing the weathered copy of Homer’s Odyssey on the table. This I know. This I’ve read more times than I can count. It’s a familiar story – one that’s been retold countless times. There are no surprises here. I open the book and my eyes fall on the page, yet my heart wanders. I close the book and put it down, frowning as the sound of cheers erupts outside my window. I gaze at the curtain and my heart begins to race.
What is happening outside of these walls?
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