Section I: Episode 41
June 15, 2015
Galavar had written his speech carefully, taking heed of all the lessons he'd learned in school or seen from adults, about being clear and succinct, proceeding from a premise to a conclusion, and using his voice and body language to his advantage. With the bustle of the restaurant all around him, he was comfortably anonymous in front of his three friends…or two friends plus whatever Ornithate was. He spoke forcefully but calmly, or at least he tried to:
"Where would I be without my eyes to see by? When I began Elder School a year ago, I felt a change come over me. It felt like emerging from a long tunnel. The timeless years of my childhood were suddenly giving way to the adolescence, and my sense of the years began to gather about me for the first time.
"Children don't have a good sense of time, I think, especially when it comes to the seasons and the years. When I was nine, I remember that summer. It lasted forever, as far as I could tell. Actually, every year of my life was a lifetime unto itself.
"Those years blended together flawlessly. My growth and development was so gradual that it escaped my notice. For that matter, my ability to notice was much weaker. I was always 'me,' and I never thought much about it. I certainly wasn't standing there taking note of my mental and emotional development. That is, until adolescence—and this is all still very new to me. But what a wonder it is, to be so self-aware now.
"On this Galabear I can say that my sense of the whole world has changed. Now I see things more clearly, more truly for what they are. I find that empowering, for it has taught me that I can refine and control myself to achieve my ambitions. My awareness, and the actions I take because of it, help me to more fully become myself. In the future they will help me even more.
"Nevertheless, this power has a bias. As I turn 21 and look ahead to my middemate year, I ask myself how much of the world as I see it is truly the world, and how much of it is my own eyes coloring the rest? When I look out there, when I place myself, how much of it is that eternally recurrent reflection? How much of me do I see? And where I would be instead, without my eyes to see by?"
Galavar finished, and paused for reactions.
"That was nice," said Agram halfheartedly.
Javelin was more direct. "I think your speechwriting needs work."
"I'm not sure what you were trying to say," Ornithate agreed.
"It was about stepping out of childhood ignorance and into the knowledge of the self?"
"How does the part about the eyes fit in?" asked Orni.
"That was a reflection on the fact that self-knowledge comes from a unique point of view."
But he could tell that, though they weren't being unkind, his words had clearly failed to reach them.
"Never mind," he said. "I'm sure I'll learn a lot from Philologer Tarsel this year, and get better at my writing." He grimaced. "I hope this doesn't mean my speech at the hearings today is going to fall flat."
"You're actually going to take time from your birthday to speak at the hearings?" Ornithate asked.
"I have to. It's a matter of conscience. What better way to spend my Galabear than to stand up for my convictions before all the village?"
"Bold," said Agram. "Well, you can count on me to show up for support."
"I appreciate that."
"Me too," Javelin added quickly. "I was going to go anyway."
Galavar didn't bother to ask Ornithate.
"At any rate, let's be on with the feasting!"
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!