Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Genie and the Mind

A young boy and his parents moved into a house that they bought from an old couple who had lived there for many years. The little boy was very curious and right away set out to explore the house. He stumbled upon a hidden spiral stairwell that appeared to have been unused for a long time. The boy climbed the narrow steps that led to a small attic. Once his eyes got accustomed to the darkness in the musty attic, he came upon a pile of old and dusty toys. As the boy combed through the collection of metallic objects that may have entertained children a couple of generations back, there was a loud clatter caused by an ornate lamp that rolled off one of the creaky wooden rafters. The boy was enchanted by the glitter of the metal and the ornate stone inlay work. The lamp seemed to emanate an other worldly glow beckoning him to pick it up. As he picked up the lamp, everything around him blurred as if the attic was suddenly covered in smoke. 

As the air cleared, a rather chubby figure in medieval garb jumped out of the lamp and appeared before him giving the boy a look of a long lost friend. He was about the same age of the boy. He thanked the boy for letting him out of the lamp and told him that he was so grateful for being set free that he would remain a close friend of his for the rest of their lives. The boy’s initial shock and fear at this unexpected sight gave way to a sense of bewilderment and speechlessness. Time appeared to be at a standstill and it seemed as though an eternity had passed before the boy mustered up the courage to ask a question of the oddly dressed figure that seemingly appeared out of no where. He wanted to know what this magical person’s name was. He called himself the Genie. As a thought crossed the boy’s mind that the name seemed to gel with the outfit he was wearing, the Genie went onto to state that he had the power to grant whatever the boy wished.

The Genie then told the boy that prior to making his first wish, he had the option of sending him back into the lamp and never to been seen or heard from again. However, once the first wish was made, even if was a very trivial one, the Genie could not be sent back and would remain by his side for the rest of his life. The boy was too young to ponder the ramifications of having a wish fulfilling Genie by his side all his life. The boy also did not realize that the Genie would only be visible to him and no one else. Since the boy had loving parents that took care of all his needs, he did not have much to ask for from the Genie. He thought to himself, “would it not be nice to have someone else to share these toys with?” He then told the Genie that he wished he could play with him. The Genie readily agreed and said goodbye to his abode of the last several hundred years, the ornate lamp.

The boy ran downstairs and excitedly exclaimed to his parents that he had found someone to play with. He tried to introduce the Genie to his parents and it was then he realized that he could not share him with anyone as no one else could see him. During those childhood years, the Genie was a lot of fun to be around, he was always at the boy’s side as he explored the world around him. The boy grew up into a good and well-intentioned adult and became very successful in his life with the help of the Genie who accommodated every wish of his. When he reached the pinnacle of his success, he wanted to share this other people who were less fortunate and he had the desire to make everyone else as happy as was. He asked the Genie if this wish could be fulfilled. The Genie said that for eternity he had tried and failed to make people happy. He was very good at fulfilling people’s wishes but could not promise that it would always lead to happiness.

Up until this point, the boy who had grown up into a rich and successful adult seemed to be always happy. This last statement from the Genie had him very concerned. The Genie had faithfully quenched all his wishes and desires and this brought him happiness. He was powerless to share his happiness with the people around him as it was conditioned on the Genie fulfilling his wishes for things that he could see, touch and feel.

A few more years went by and he entered his golden years. His once robust and healthy body started to become frail. The Genie stayed as young as he he had first seen him. He appeared ageless, appearing to have left the aging process in a time warp. The Genie maintained the same level of activity and enthusiasm for fulfilling wishes. The old man, who had the Genie at his side ever since he was a boy started getting tired of asking the Genie for things. He had no place to put everything he had acquired in his life. He had many houses, cars, watches, clothes etc., but he continued to live in the house he had grown up in. He asked the Genie if he could find someone else to help as he was now old and feeble and could not enjoy whatever the Genie brought him.

The Genie reminded him about what he had told him as a boy. Once a single wish was fulfilled, he could not leave his side. The old man asked the Genie what he would do if he did not make a wish. The Genie was ready for this question and promptly replied, “over the years, for every wish you asked me to fulfil, you had ten other wishes that you did not ask me to fulfil. You only asked me for things that you thought were important to you at that point in time. I have kept a list of thousands of desires that you have thought of but have not told me”.

The Genie then added, “if you stop asking me to do things for you, I will go down the list of tens and thousands of your unfulfilled desires. Since I cannot leave your side, I will drag you along whether you like it or not”. The old man spent the last years of his life in misery, being dragged around by the Genie who was going down his list that never seemed to end. He could not escape him even in his sleep as he showed up in his dreams. As days and months went by, the Genie seemed to pick up pace knowing that the old man’s time was running out.

Towards the end of his life, the lonely old man had a visitor. He had a couple of young children with him. The visitor looked strangely familiar but the old man could not remember where he had met him. The visitor reminded him that they both grew up on the same street as children. As a teenager, the visitor had moved away with his parents and subsequently became a successful banker. After retirement, he was spending a lot of time with his two grandchildren. He wanted to show them the town where he spent the first few years of his life. As he was walking down the street where he grew up, he told his grandchildren many stories of all the kids on the street. The one boy he never got to know well when he was young turned out to be the old man. Not knowing what happened to that boy, he knocked on the door of the house the old man lived in. Since the old man had the Genie by his side growing up, he had not felt the need to play with the other children on the street.

The visitor asked the old man why he looked so unhappy. He related the whole story to him right from the time he had stumbled upon the Genie to the present. The visitor was astonished. He had the same experience in the attic of the house he grew up in down the street from the old man. The old man asked him if the Genie was with him all the time. The visitor said yes and he added that his Genie was his best friend even today.

The old man could not understand this and asked the visitor about how he was able to keep himself and the Genie happy after all these years. The visitor went onto to relate his experience with the Genie.