by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2016
Every awakening is such a strange event.
But some are stranger than others, and this one is a doozy.
I'm coming out in the body of a young boy dressed in primitive clothing. I look around and the technology around me is... medieval? Wait! Pre-medieval? It seems to be! I'm dodging puddles as I run down an ally made of dirt... just dirt! The buildings to the left and right of me are made of rough-hewn wood on the right and adobe clay bricks on the left, that's it. There is trash all over in the ally and not a lick of metal in it.
What is this world? And what will I do here? What wisdom will I be adding to this land solidly in the Agricultural Age?
This was going to be a new experience, indeed!
I watched. I watched for twenty years, while I learned a whole lot about how things got accomplished in an age without computers, steel or engines.
And with time the events of the day started sweeping me up. I could see that the politics of the day were calling for wisdom, wisdom of the sort I could provide... but at some personal risk. (Well, not that much. People here died left and right all the time from disease and accidents of all sorts. Violent death was just a part of the usual mix.)
The land I was living in had just been conquered by a group of outsiders from a distant land across the sea that was more technologically advanced -- they had big ships, hefty armor and iron weapons. They also had a more organized social order. As I watched what was taking place after their soldiers and governors moved in, I could see my people were becoming part of a big and rapidly growing empire. That empire was showing my people not just iron weapons, but how to do lots more trade with distant lands.
Lots of changes. There were new jobs because these imperialists wanted our people making things they could take to distant lands. Some people were making a living at these new jobs, a handful are getting filthy rich. A dozen or so were getting filthy rich doing a particular high-profile job that the rest of the community didn't think was a good one -- money lending.
People around me were grumbling because that dozen were making money trading money, not doing real work.
"It is an outrage!" they say to each other, and me. And this particular outrage comes on top of all the stress of the change brought by this imperializing.
For the last couple years I have started coming across as a "smart guy". I have been placid about adapting to this imperializing, and been offering good advice to others in the neighborhood. I'm now a craftsman by trade, and that plus my good advice is getting me lots of local respect.
When I get asked to help out with this "rich trading man outrage" problem, I decide it is time for some wisdom. I try to talk with this rich dozen...
These guys are in a courtyard that is just outside the local central temple. This temple is a big one, and real fancy -- it is a marvel that shows just what can be accomplished with stone, clay and wood, and a lot of skilled craftsmen who are willing to devote years and years to a building project. Even with all I have experienced, I'm impressed.
Inside the courtyard it's a busy time for these money changers. (Well, they are always pretty busy.) I have to stand in line a long time. And when I get to the head of the line...
"OK! What kind of coin do you have?"
"I'm not here to trade. I'm here to talk. There--"
He gives me a big raspberry and shouts, "Pffft! Move on! Rube! You want to talk, go find your momma. There's a lot of people here who want to do business." He points to the person behind me, "Next!" He also motions to a guard who is now moving to escort me away.
He was not happy to hear me saying I wanted to just talk. I was not happy with him brushing me off in that insulting way. I topple his table.
"See how busy you can be now, Money Changer!" and I storm away.
The people who came with me, the angry ones, took my queue and toppled two more tables. Some of the customers hit the dirt and started grabbing for the coins that were scattered. It was a good thing I was so upset, I just walked way, angry as hell. I reached the archway and was outside counting to ten before I noticed the bedlam inside and the guards rushing by me to get in and restore order.
I chuckled a bit and moved on. This was now high profile enough that I had done all I needed to do here. I was wise enough to see that!
That weekend I gave a talk on a hill, I had started doing these weekend talks a couple months ago. My cyber muse had recommended it. With all that temple ruckus, I got a big audience this time.
There were a whole lot of people, which meant a whole lot of strangers, but a handful stood out. They didn't move like locals. I was getting some cyber support on this speech.
I talked platitudes, platitudes for me, anyway. But they were platitudes these people really enjoyed hearing. And mid-way through my cyber associates started handing out bread and fish. All-in-all, it was another high-profile success.
Then the trouble started for me. The local authorities were not happy with all the recognition I was getting. I got hauled in front of the local religious leaders.
They wanted to hang me up by my thumbs. But when they saw the crowd outside who liked what I had been saying, and saw how "enthusiastic" they were getting, they decided to push the matter upstairs, to these new imperialists, and let them take the heat.
This new governor was not at all happy to see me in front of him. He too saw the crowd outside. And he openly wondered why this wasn't being handled by the locals. "He hasn't been bad-mouthing the emperor, why is he here?" he wondered.
But the crowd outside made him nervous enough that he decided a show of force was necessary. I was dragged to a local hilltop and hung on a post to show what happens to "trouble makers".
Ouch! No fun at all! Even less fun when one of his soldiers sticks me with a spear while I'm hanging there.
I die soon after, and soon after that I get pulled down by my cyber associates who take me into a nearby cave they are using as a base. Inside, they revive a copy body of mine, a full grown version, and transfer my consciousness to it. It takes three days.
...In truth, I don't remember that last part. The memory recording was turned off after the governor made his choice and I was being lead out. The cyber saw no need to add what followed to my experience inventory! I saw some videos of it taken by the cyber, so I know what happened and what I looked like. I agree with their choice. That third-party viewpoint was sufficient for me to experience.
Once I'm fully in the replacement body I come out and show myself off briefly. Yeah, it's sure impressive for the locals to see that happen!
That showing up again is sure going to make my words memorable... but exactly how they get remembered is something only time will tell. There are going to be lots of arguments about what I said, and what I meant by what I said. That is something my wisdom lets me know in no uncertain terms.
With my brief reappearance my job here is done. I'll be remembered, I have imparted some wisdom, and I've given the locals a lot of new hope and meaning in their lives.
I 'git while the 'gitting is good, and leave my mark on local history.
All-in-all, a most curious experience for a wise man. And one of my more memorable, I have to admit.