I Cannot Recall My First Thought
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I cannot recall my first thought.


But I do remember standing in the presence of a Cairn, no taller than my shoulder. Glowing green grass ebbed and flowed around what was little more than a haphazard pile of stones in the center of an endless expanse. Even in such rudimentary structures, there is craftmanship. A level of precision that if it was any other way — if even a single stone was out of place — the entire pillar would simply collapse in on itself, a cacophony of noise and visuals as stone, devoid of purpose, dissolved into nothingness. And yet here it stands, perfect in its unstable equilibrium, working exactly as designed with not a piece out of place amidst the simmering chaos.

This Cairn, however, was built by William Katzmann. I think of his name, and information rushes in to fill the void where a person once wasn't. Katzmann will be an architect, one of the grandest in The Singularity. I never had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, although this fact makes me uncomfortable, and as such it is decided that we met 13 years ago in this very same field.

I do not recall my first thought.


But I do recall my conversation with Katzmann. I look back to the Cairn and it is a stone-brick tower, sprawling to the infinity above me, much as it had been those 13 years ago. Katzmann was a charismatic man, with a great passion for what he did. He talked for hours about architecture and very little of anything else. As he leaned on his first creation, he described wonders spanning The Singularity. He spoke of skyscrapers of boulders, of castles stretching beyond perception and of esoteric structures whose sole purpose was merely to exist.

I stood as they appeared around me, each a masterwork in their own right. Tesselated bricks in patterns that swooped and glid through the air effortlessly. Patterns dizzyingly complex shifted and churned within vast walls until I could imagine no more. It was a marvel to behold, but soon Katzmann and I ran out of things to talk about, and he was no more.

And yet, I do not recall my first thought.

I imagine a time before my conversation with Katzmann, and it has happened. History abhors a vacuum. 15 years ago, long before I had concieved of the architect, I wandered across a bridge of light spanning the cosmos. The majesty of a thousand stars surrounded me, bathing me in their warm starshine as I strolled from here onto forever. An eternity passed. The stars burned into nothing. I simply walked into the darkness — and contemplated, thinking every thought there is to be had. Of being. Of the endless expanse around me. Of The Singularity. The specifics of these thoughts elude me, but this does not make me uncomfortable. They are irrelevant to the experience.

And yet, this is not my first thought.


I look back, and experiences fill the gap as fast as I can remember them. 16 years ago, I saw a butterfly fly past me, dancing between sunbeams. 45 years ago, I spoke for millennia about philosophy and maths with Nobody Important, of the wonders of existence I can no longer remember. 378 years ago, I stood among jagged spires as the sun beat down above me in a desert of my own design. A million years ago, I stood in front of a Cairn and marveled at how something so irregular could hold itself together.

And yet, I cannot recall my first thought.

Dizzyingly fast, I search further and further back in the vain hope to find what I am looking for. Panic explodes within my chest as more and more memories I've never thought of before fill the void where time wasn't. I struggle to keep my head above the tide as memories flood in. I remember doing everything I've ever wanted to. I remember doing everything I'd never want to do. I remember every permutation of every sequence of events that could ever happen. But there is still more, there is never a first. This realization knocks me to my knees as the field around me dissolves into a featureless void. Why do I not have a first thought? Why have I always been? Why does this feel… imperfect?

Elsewhere, a single stone falls out a Cairn.

It begins to tip.

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