“You know, you’re really acting like a ghost of yourself in this matter.” The Cook began unexpectedly.
“What’s that have to do with the plan?” I muttered.
“Some might even say that you’re a pansy, a loser, a total fraud.”
“Some people are saying that.” I growled.
“Well, they’re – or he’s kind of right, isn’t he?” He said flatly.
“How exactly does this help me?” I rasped, idly turning my potato peeler.
“Easy with that bread knife.” He noted. “This isn’t a stabbing situation, and you’re not a slasher and hacker for trivial insults. Look at it this way. On the one hand, you describe a swashbuckling life. But on the other – you refuse to take the actions that would bring the stories to life, so to speak.”
“Either you live up to your ego, or you let self-preservation reign. You can’t play the brash hero without living the part. It’s really quite ironic, you know, a hero who is afraid of things.”
“Not all of us are college graduates…yet.” I said. “Easy on the big words. I think I take your meaning – if I’m to tell the stories, and act in a certain manner, then I must live up to expectations.”
“Exactly.” He said, a smile dancing over his face. “You’ve had it easy up to this point, since you’re young. When you were tally-hoing down rope strands in England, you didn’t recognize the implications of your actions. You just wanted to be the cause without the effect.”
“And…this relates to the plan how?”
“This relates to the larger plan.”
“You have to decide what you want to be. Do you want to be the itinerant explorer, who graduated from his apprenticeship in adventure, and now has to deal with all of the causes and effects? Or do you want to be the apprentice who went home and had a totally spectacular and yet somewhat unremarkable life?”
“I don’t think it’s that black and white.”
“No, as far as I can tell, life isn’t that black and white. But for this ship and for now it is. That’s where it gets complicated. Your fear is telling you that there are a million reasons not to continue, because implicitly, you’re already happy with who you are and what you do. Also because if you do go on, there’s always going to be one more challenge. There’s always going to be one more Bartleby. Its not going to be this Bartleby, but tougher, stronger, faster, quicker, smarter, Bartlebys. They’re going to want substantiation for your stories, facts, proof, hard evidence.
They’re going to want to show that they’re better than you, even though you don’t really want to compete. There’s always going to be one more quest, one more mast to climb, each higher than the last and each more imposing. And that’s why, when you look at it, its not fear that wants you to turn around, but common sense, because being an itinerant adventurer, is a long, cold, fruitless, silly, and undoubtedly risky path, because what adventure really is, is the effect and not the cause, and it is the consequences that hide behind the façade of life.
Those consequences are harsh, cold black letter words that don’t care if you live – or die. That, my friend who peels potatoes, is what adventure, and your choice is. It is a choice between risk, and certain reward. So with that choice, I’m going to leave you with my plan. It’s not clever, especially since I am a college graduate. I’m going to leave out these eggs. You can climb the mast, and drop them on Bartleby. Or not. I’ll leave you to make the choice on your own. But as we spoke so deeply of consequences, I will state that should you “steal” these eggs, you will be spending a lot more time with me on this cruise.”