The Pondering Fool

The fool belongs to the social order and yet does not commit himself to it; he can without fear even speak uncomfortable truths about it… Lucky the king who has a wise and courageous fool! – Ralf Dahrendorf

In a land far, far away, there once lived creatures called The Ponderers. Every day, they wake up and have some weighty breakfast of Morning Reflection. Then, they resume to do some more Thinking Out Loud before timing in for the Idea Bank, where everyone is employed to do some Mindful Paperwork. The littluns, by the same time, goes off to the School of Thoughts, where they learn what to think of and eventually be placed for the different divisions in the Bank once their minds think alike with the other big Ponderers, or whether they want to stay in the School to be part of the Ultimate Thinkers, the teachers of the school. Lunch always comes sooner than everyone thinks, while it is always the opposite when it comes to time to get off work or school. In their little houses approaching the evening, dinner is served, and if they are lucky enough, they would each have a piece of Educated Guesses for dessert. As they ponder some more with riveting books like Nature of the Universe, or entertaining ones like Riddle Me That!, they would eventually drift of to the World of Ideals before the Light of Curiosity dawns upon them for another day full of contemplation.

Judy Dubio has always been fascinated by the Way of the Noughts, much to the dismay of her teachers in the school. Despite how seemingly foolish they are depicted in the textbooks as they seem to run around mindless all day, which is an abomination to the Ponderers (“We think, therefore we are!” which is the motto of all Ponderers, always strongly emphasized by all the Ultimate Thinkers), Judy always thought there is always something everyone can learn from such a different custom of life, which is the Principle of Inquisitiveness, which is also held high by most Ponderers. Unlike the Ponderers, the Noughts seem to be able to go through the day just exploring their land without having to think or plan ahead. They don’t have to work or go to school, they sleep whenever they feel sleepy, they wake up whenever they feel refreshed and ready enough to explore some more; they fed themselves just enough depending on whatever food they can find in the woodlands. What intrigues Judy more is that, it seems to be part of their intrinsic trait to share because they seem to have a consensus that the food, water and every other resources they can find in their journey is not theirs, but rather it belongs to the Unknown Owner or simply the Nature; and that they do not store food up like how the Ponderers would, especially when it comes to Knowledge as they believe it is Food to the Mind. It is Inefficient and Ineffective to the Ponderers as it is more important to Think, and Think some more, contributing to the Bank or to the School rather than spending time and effort to travel around in the outside and collect food every time they need to eat.

Judy wished she could sneak out and spend just one day in the land of the Noughts, learning their way of life and possibly develop a new breed of thought, and eventually be an Ultimate Thinker at the school herself, but with her subject being one of a kind–with her being one of a kind, the one Ponderer that will be seen as evolutionary, no matter how contradictory that is to what every Ponderer aspires to be, even in the World of Ideals.

So she decided to bring the idea up when it is time for her placement, which does not turn out to be what she expected it to be. The Board was totally taken aback on why she would like to study something that has been deemed “obsolete and savage”, that there is enough knowledge gained about the Noughts, and that the ways of the Ponderers are “far more supreme”. They claimed that there is no need of advancement of it as “it is already the Advance the Ponderers have achieved after all those years of Thinking”, and that the Thinking they do now is enough to sustain the system. One of the Ultimate Thinkers even stated, “If there are no progress needed to be made, little does a study of the archaic will be worth the Pondering.”

Considering her previous record at school, the Board decided to give her another chance for her placement as one of the Thinkers in the school, teaching the littluns as long as she agreed not to bring up the subject up in any of the classes she teaches.

She spent the evening locking herself in her room, Thinking Out Loud instead of having her dinner or even a tiny piece of her favorite dessert. She still cannot fathom why the Board, consisted of the most brilliant minds among all, ironically could not see that the Mind is limitless, as what they have always reminded the purpose of why they wander in the World of Ideals at the dark. She thought that the School is the space for progressive minds, on how they could accumulate more Ideas to the Bank, of how to come up with better systems for the good of all Ponderers, and most certainly, of how the Thinkers will be surrounded by fellow Thinkers who are appreciative of those Different, like the Noughts. Why do they deem themselves superior already? Does that mean she is not a proper Ponderer? Why do they think she doubted the Ways of the Ponderers by being simply interested with something that is foreign? After all, the complete phrase to the Principle of the Ponderer was “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”, wasn’t it? That means, even if she was to question the Way, it is still acceptable as it leads one to think and ponder, which is what Ponderers do best… or is it not?

She talked to the bigguns who have thought more than she does, assuming they would help her sort things out. Everybody seemed to agree she is “just on a phase”, and that she should think more on the joys of having offered a second chance as a Thinker, which is something she has idealized for a long time. What they did not quite comprehend was that, suddenly the prospect of her being one was not as exciting anymore.

But because the prospect of being sent to the Bank is even lesser to her liking, and that every Ponderer should be enlisted to either one of the option unless they want to be starved off of the essential Food for Thought (the very life force of the Ponderers), Judy took the offer, though not as gladly. Soon enough, she got less energized in the classes she teaches even though she tried to be content with the thought of the abundance in her Unit, which is how Ponderers call their families. She only sees black in the World of Ideals at night, which is not a good sign of a healthy Ponderer. One day, she decided to consult to a Ponderer Practitioner, in which he prescribed her a tonic of Stupor.

“You seem to suffer from a Fool’s Paradise,” the elderly Practitioner said, “No need to worry, it is common for those your age. Take the dosage just as I told you, and it will numb the Fantasies and Emotional Yearning just fine.”

“But I don’t understand,” Judy began, “I thought it was my Thinkings that was the problem. I am a Ponderer. I think. I do not muse over sentiments. My concern was for the Thoughts, the Rationale of the School.”

“Well, my dear,” he replied, “when you think over something too much to the extent you aspire for it, you will get attached to it. And when it is not something you can make happen, it is hard even for one to Ponder properly.”

“Ponder properly?” Judy asked, confused.

“Why, of course,” he exclaimed as he scribbled her prescription, “isn’t the School built to shape everyone to Think pretty much the Way they are needed at the Bank or the School?”

“Right,” Judy answered quietly, “Of course, it is.”

As she walked back home, Judy realizes something; that with the Ponderers, it is required to think like the Ponderers, and no one else. That it is not simply to Think that makes one a Ponderer, but to Think or Ponder like one.

She made sure to take the tonic as regularly as adviced. Anything to ease the Pain from being the Fool.


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