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The Parable of Dying Young

There came a time when mortal men became angry at the gods for their one and only fate: that they will die. They couldn't understand the riddle of getting old and the death that eventually followed it. So they blamed the gods. And the gods heard their wrath.

The gods then gave men the gift which they yearned for. They reversed the movement of time and life. Thinking that men blamed time for the slow death that they approached, the gods stopped time and then made it go backward. Instead of growing older, everyone would grow young. Life then would approach youth instead of old age, birth instead of death.

Men thought this was more than they bargained for. Suddenly the women slowly could feel their bodies transform into the younger selves they were before; they had curves, lost their wrinkles and laugh lines, had softer skin. The men meanwhile felt the resurgence of youth shoot through their blood. Their bones became stronger, their posture upright once again, their mood exuberant and hopeful. This was what it meant to be young all over again. And for the longest time, people enjoyed this discovery of the fountain of youth.

Until one day, they noticed something happening to their children. They, too, were being transformed; but the change that occurred to them left people startled. The children were only not growing but they were regressing, going back gradually to what they were before, getting smaller and smaller. A few suddenly could not talk as they forgot the words they learned before. The children were slowly unlearning what they had previously absorbed like a sponge. The very young, the toddlers, began to lose their balance and gone back to all fours instead of walking upright. Those who were younger still became babies once again, with those eyes which could see but not recognize, can sometimes smile but more often than not cry, and with no consciousness of who he or she is or the world outside.

It did not take a long time for people to realize that this was what was in store for them. That the gift they received was the gift of never getting old and forever becoming younger and younger until one becomes the babe it was before. The gods were wise to let time move and never stop, even if it were to move in the other direction. But slowly men were no longer sure if this gift was what they really wanted.

They were uncertain if being younger and becoming the child they forever wanted to be was not like death itself.


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