There once was a brave young boy that was full of questions. He asked questions day in and day out. “Why?’ was his favorite question and his parents, who had long ago run out of answers as to why the sky was blue or why the sun crossed the sky, took to giving him one chore for every question that the little boy asked, and so they had the tidiest home in the village.
“Why is my name Doug?” He had asked that morning while sweeping the floor, after asking why their kitten sometimes purred, and was handed a shopping list and a bag of copper to fetch some eggs from the market. When Doug asked why eggs were white and yellow he was handed some laundry to take to the local wizard. Some time ago his parents had taken to have him do the villages laundry when they realized that Doug had as much energy as he had questions.
Doug stopped at the wizards to drop off long robes covered in half moons and stars. Instead of knocking he checked the door and found it was unlocked. “Why does anyone bother to knock when I’m certain I’ll be invited in anyway?” mumbled Doug and walked in unannounced past book filled shelves and cats, past bowls of glass balls and lit candles deep into the wizard’s workroom.
What Doug did not know was that the wizard had been busy summoning a familiar, a familiar is a little creature, in this case a green, freckled, knobby gremlin, shaped much like a human only smaller. The wizard had been summoning the familiar for three days. Some wizards summon familiars to do their laundry and mop their floors, but for this the wizard had a little boy named Doug. This particular familiar was named “Know” and Know was being summoned from another dimension where questions have never existed. They all simply know all.
The wizard had done everything necessary to summon Know properly. He had read aloud the thickest book he owned and burned every cone of incense in the village, he had learned Know’s true name from years of study and crafted a bird cage of solid silver to hold Know just long enough to ask him one question that Know would answer true without a doubt. He would know what the secret components to his calculations were missing. What exactly those calculations were meant to prove is still a mystery. In fact any time anyone has ever asked the wizard all he has done is pull at his hair and mutter “that boy…that boy.”
“Cindulara peptoro calculado pooftasia…” muttered the wizard as he heard Doug come in unannounced. The wizard, furious that he was being disturbed turned and yelled at the boy as he came into the room “Why you never knock I don’t know!” and when the wizard said Know’s name the knobby little gremlin popped into being in the little silver cage.
Doug wandered into the candle lit room with walls covered in papers, the floor covered in chalk markings and open books and a little green man with pointy ears, pointy teeth, a knobby, funny shaped little head, and nothing on, standing in a little silver bird cage in the center of the room and a furious wizard yelling at him for seemingly no reason with his back turned to the gremlin and said the only thing that came to mind, his favorite word, and the thing always on his tongue. “Why?”
“That’s a very good question!?” said the little familiar and vanished with a loud “pop!” followed by a short fizzle and a shower of sparks.
“What have you done!?” cried the wizard as he turned about to find the cage empty.
“What have I…” began Doug but as soon as the question occurred to him he knew the answer. “What were you…” Doug began again but again he knew the answer.
The wizard began to yell and throw books and call Doug all manner of names “You ruined my…”
“I know” said Doug
“For three day I’ve been…” yelled the wizard beginning again.
“I know that too.” said Doug
Well just what in the…” said the startled wizard.
“Negative four” Doug said “and it will only work during a lunar eclipse” and then Doug stormed out of the wizard’s home.
Doug began the long walk home and for the first time in his life he had no questions.
“Haven’t you forgotten something?” his mother asked him when he arrived home, but he knew what his mother would say when he arrived home without the eggs. Time passed and his mother immediately noticed that Doug had ceased asking questions and seemed to know the answer to every question asked.
He knew what the shape of the moon would be after the sun fell from the sky. He knew why the sun fell from the sky. He knew why the moon changed shape. He knew exactly how many hours it would be until the first snow. He knew no one would believe him if he told his mother that night of what happened, and he knew one thing most of all. He had to find his questions again.
Doug had very little chores to do at the house from then on. He happily answered questions for his family and they learned to trust his answers without question. His family prospered. They knew when to plant the crops, when to shutter their windows from a storm. They knew which items would sell at market for how much and they knew which villagers would make the best friends and how much to charge each family for the goods and services his family could provide.
Doug grew into a young man and was widely respected throughout the land as a wise young man. People flocked to him for answers and he knew when to accept the gifts offered from others and when it was wiser not to answer them at all.
Then one day he grew tired of his role as the village wise man and knew it was time to go out into the world in search of questions he could not answer.
He packed up the things he knew he would need in his journey. Told his mother the things he knew he must say to keep her from worrying overly much. He shook his father’s hand firmly when he left for he knew his father was a strong man and would need only that gesture, and he walked the road he knew he must take to do what he knew he must to find his questions. He went to take audience with the king.
When he reached the kingdom he saw buildings rising higher than he had ever seen before, and more people in one place than he had ever imagined. He saw some of them living in beautiful homes with many servants while others begged for scraps and he found he did not know why. Surely he knew the buildings rose so high and that some were poor and others were rich but seeing it was a different experience and this was also something he had not known.
The rumors of his knowledge had preceded him and he was recognized and brought through massive hallways and tapestry covered walls to the king. The king, a great fat man in fine clothes began immediately twitching his ring covered fingers and rustling his robes, and began to ask him questions.
He told the king where to dig the town’s wells, when to plant the crops, where to send his fishing boats, and when the king asked “How many men are in the neighboring countries garrison?” he knew why the king wanted to know and said he was not sure.
“You will work beside me for more gold than you could ever want.” said the king, but Doug realized something as the king made his offer.
It was time to stop seeking questions.
So Doug fled the kingdom in the night when he knew he could leave without being seen and traveled to a cave he knew would be there and lived off a herd of wild goats he knew how to tend to and Doug ceased to look for questions.
Doug grew a scraggly beard; he drank goat’s milk and burned their dung when he was cold. Doug wove clothing from their hair and in the silence of his life and in the silence of his mind Doug found he had no more answers and was in need of no more questions.
Doug spent a year in his cave with his goats as his only companions and in the silence of his mind Doug realized that there was something he didn’t know after all. Doug didn’t know if he was doing the right thing hiding away in those hills. He had been so wrapped up in answers and questions and prosperity and kings that he never thought to ask himself what he should really be doing.
Should he seek comfort and happiness? He had no answer.
Should he seek wealth and fame? Once again there was nothing.
He had answered so many questions that he had never realized that some questions have no answers, that sometimes the answer is not to question and that someone who knew the answer to every single question tended to fail to question what was truly important in life.
So Doug donned his thickest goat hair wool clothing and wandered down from the hills to be with his family answering questions far, far less often and doing the one thing he had failed to do all these years. Asking questions from others that he thought he knew the answer to.
At times Doug was happy. At times Doug was sad, but Doug kept a clear mind and became a wise old man despite the fact that he had the answers not because of it.