The inside of Knowing’s Edge is unlike anything I have ever seen. Thick, overstuffed armchairs dot the room and eclectic artwork lines the walls. Long wooden tables with dinner’s remains await to be cleaned, but no one actively makes their way to do so. The room itself is dimly lit with a thin haze of smoke filling the air. A strange tension hangs in the room, one that seems poised on the edge of something great about to happen but is simultaneously tinged with a sense of anxiety and dread. I shrug out of my traveler’s cloak and hang it on a peg by the door. A chill runs through my body as I move toward the Innkeeper, a portly man with a long mustache and twinkling eyes.
“Haven’t see you before,” he says.
“I’ve just started my journey,” I say, taking a seat at the bar.
He nods. “I can see that. You don’t have the wear and tear of one who has been on the road for long like some of these others.”
He gestures to the rest of the room where five others are scattered about.
“Do you get much business?” I ask.
The Innkeeper chuckles. He fills a mug with fragrant spiced wine and passes it to me. “There’s a steady stream of people. Most pass on to the next stage of their journey soon after arriving while others” – he shoots a glance toward the five – “like to stay for a bit. These five are regulars, you see.”
I look at the five regulars, taking a sip of my wine as I do. “Maybe you can help me,” I ask. “Has a Pilgrim passed by here?”
“Haven’t seen the Pilgrim in a long time,” the Innkeeper says. “They eventually pass this way though, if you’d like to wait a while. Take a load off and I’ll grab you some of my famous stew.”
I nod and the Innkeeper hustles toward the kitchen. By now, the five regulars are staring at me from their respective tables. Feeling uncomfortable, I grab my mug and take a seat across from the nearest one, who has a sketchpad laying before them.
“It’s quite chilly outside,” I remark.
“I wouldn’t know,” they say airily. Paint smudges their cheek and charcoal lines their fingers.
I sit there awkwardly in silence for a time. “T-The Innkeeper says that you and you friends are regulars here.”
“Of course we are. We are the ones who inhabit the immediate space between Knowledge and the Unknown. We refer to ourselves as the ‘Edgelings’ if you will.”
“Edgelings?” I ask.
They nod. “We are the ones poised to seek the unknown at a moment’s notice. It isn’t a matter of ‘if’ so much as ‘when’ for us. My compatriots are the Explorer, the Psychotherapist, the Scientist, and the Entrepreneur. And I, my friend, am the Artist.”
“I am the Expert,” I say with a slight bow.
The Artist laughs. “An Expert? Is there truly such a thing?”
I’m taken aback. “I’m sorry?”
The Artist chuckles. “My friend, if there is one thing we have all learned from staying at Knowing’s Edge and the Unknown, it’s that those who claim to be ‘Experts’ are simply those who grew tired of the Journey and created a Tower for themselves.”
“I, well, yes. But I did not get tired of the Journey. I simply found the end of it.”
The Artist laughs. “Ah, you truly are an ‘Expert’ then.” They raise their glass mockingly. “Tell me, why are you at Knowing’s Edge, then?”
The others perk up at this. “Discontent?” the Scientist asks.
“With what, exactly?” the Entrepreneur asks, taking a seat next to me.
“I…I’m not sure exactly.”
“You’re at the right place then,” the Explorer laughs.
I look at them curiously.
“Hopefully you’ll will stay a while. I would like to look deeper into this,” the Psychotherapist says, studying me closely.
The attention is growing more and more uncomfortable. The Artist looks me up and down. “You’re looking for the next stage of your Journey. But you’re not sure where to go yet, yes?”
I nod slowly.
“We’ve found that the best way to figure out where to go is to simply not go anywhere,” the Explorer says jubilantly.
I look at the Explorer in shock. “But…you’re an Explorer. Isn’t ‘going somewhere’ part of your identity?”
They nod. “Of course. But how do I know if I’m going somewhere new if I haven’t taken the time to ferment on the edge? You see, we all have an idea of where we should go, but that doesn’t mean it’s the place we will go or if it’s even the best choice.”
“So you…do nothing?”
“For the moment at least. I follow my intuition. The time will come when I leave, but it won’t be a moment before. That’s the thing with exploration: It can take you anywhere you want to go, but only if you’re patient and have support. There’s always some kind of risk involved.”
“It’s the same for all of us,” the Entrepreneur says. “In our professions, there is always some risk involved. For the Artist, they must learn to inhabit that creative space. For the Scientist, they must be comfortable with deviating from what has already been established. I mean, how many scientific discoveries came from playing it safe? For the Psychotherapist, working with people is always a risk. You never know what you’re going to get in there. They always have to check their assumptions at the door and unknow what they think they know. For myself, I have to give myself the space to fail. I can’t tell you how many of my ideas tanked.” They all laugh at that.
The Artist nods. “We don’t know your story, Expert. But we commend you for taking the step out of the Tower. That in and of itself is a huge risk. We don’t know where you’ll be going next, but as long as you’re here at Knowing’s Edge, we’ll let you process whatever it is you need.”
I’m humbled by their kind words. Bowing my head in thanks, I lift my mug in a toast.
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