We were able but not willing. That wasn't how it was supposed to work
. When I first received a lantern, they told me the power available would be limited only by my own will. That wasn't quite how it turned out either.
Things were mostly smooth at first. The initial missions went about as well as could be expected
. But as the months went by, I noticed a marked drop in my motivation. I wasn't the only one.
"Are you OK?" one of the elders asked me one day. "You seem out of sorts
"I think I'm a bit tired," I said, "I don't know why." I didn't want to tell them that I was losing faith in their mission
, the very reason they had given me a lantern in the first place. But after quickly accomplishing almost everything I had initially wanted to accomplish, there didn't seem much point for me to do anything else.
"Do you ever wonder if the power you've given us also drains us of our will?" I asked absently.
"What do you mean?" the elder replied.
I didn't really want to get into it, and tried to shrug it off.
"There's still so much for us to do," the elder continued. "The mission still needs you and others like you
"But I am not the mission. The mission is not my will. It was just part of what I agreed to
"You are satisfied with the world as it is?" the elder asked. "You think this is good enough
"I guess in some ways it is. I'm grateful for the power you have given me, which has helped me get to this point in my life
, but I'm now wondering if that's all there needs to be."
The elder suggested I return to the central battery. "Things are never static there. I think you will find your answers there
So I took leave of my regular post and made the long journey back through a thousand star systems. It wasn't often I made the trip, so it wasn't anything I could brush off as a casual occurrence. I did know what to expect though. I tried not to be overwhelmed by awe
as I approached. Tourism was not why I was there, but in many ways I was still a rookie.
"It's about change," one of the other members of the corps told me. "The battery intentionally changes itself. If it didn't, well, you have already experienced some of that
"Experienced what?" I asked.
"It channels enough power into this world at levels that could make almost any being satisfied. And you know what happens after that
"The universe becomes static. A form of death from inaction, something not feared
, but static nonetheless."
"So you're saying it changes itself on purpose to avoid this thing, this death?"
"Without motivation, there would be no desire to change. Without will, there would be no use for its power."
"So it just changes its mind for the sake of it
?" I asked. "Is the so-called mission just a grand joke?"
"It allows in randomness. And it is in response to that chaos that we have a mission."
"And why do we need a mission at all?"
"Infinite power without change would mean the universe either becomes frozen in a perfect state, or partially frozen in some perfect repetition. It's happened before."
"Our universe has been static in the past?" I asked.
"Not just this one, but others as well. It was a form of death. Even life in a steady state
is not truly living. It is an automaton."
"I think I need to visit the battery myself." I took leave of the other corps member and made my way past lifeforms and technology from countless different civilizations, before finding myself before the source of our power
With lantern in hand, I reached in, and could soon feel its light coursing through my body. Yes, it wanted me to come. Though it had no great reason to summon some random person from Earth, it had decided that was what it desired. If it did not want change, I would have been there still
, not having any reason to leave my home planet.
It reached into my mind and saw everything I saw, felt everything I had felt. There was no real need for me to be in its presence, but that too was simply part of the change it desired. My pilgrimage was not only to answer my own questions, but to satisfy the fate it desired
for me as well.
But it didn't want me to stay. No, that too would have been a version of death. It wanted me to return home, to live, to want change. And to want to return
, if ever I needed to recharge my mind.