Enter Cornelius and Raymond. They are walking through a thick forest and approach a diversion in the path.
Cornelius: Which path shall we take, Raymond? Raymond: That decision, my friend, is up to you. Cornelius: Ah, but that is where you are at fault. The decision is yours. Raymond: No, it's yours. Cornelius: No. Raymond: Must you do this to me? Cornelius: Indeed, I must. I cannot continue to lead you through life, you helpless fool. Raymond: A fool, am I? Rather, it is my apathy which leads me through life. Cornelius: Apathy is a deadly characteristic, my friend. You must take pleasure in caring, or else life is worthless. Raymond: Is it? Cornelius: Why, certainly, yes. Raymond: How so? Cornelius: Why, it is ostensibly so. Raymond: You never answered my question. Cornelius: I was getting to that. You see, apathy is a sign of uncertainty. Uncertainty hinders the freedom of the individual. Therefore, one cannot grow living a life of apathy. Do you see what I am trying to say? Raymond: Yes, I believe so. Cornelius: Good. Now, we must decide which path will lead us out of this damned forest. Shall you lead the way? Raymond sits down on a stump in between the two paths. He slumps over. Cornelius stands next to him. Raymond: Let me think about it first. This is an important decision. Cornelius: It is as important as deciding if you should breathe, fool. Why must you pain me so much? Why do I have to force things out of you? Raymond: You should not agonize so much over me. It is a pity , really. You should take more interest in yourself. Cornelius: I can't. Raymond: Why? Cornelius: You are much more fascinating than I am. Raymond: How so? Cornelius: You just are. Does that suffice? Raymond: Indeed. Cornelius: So, any verdict? Raymond: Somebody's on trial? Cornelius: Don't be wise with me. I want an answer. Raymond: I'll keep you in suspense. Cornelius: Don't do this to me. Raymond: I shall. Cornelius: Fine. Then we shall have to do something to pass the time. Raymond: What shall we do? Cornelius: I don't know. I suppose you'll have to think of something. Raymond: Are you delegating the decision to me, yet again? Cornelius: You always seem to have something interesting to say, don't you? Raymond: I presume so. Cornelius: What shall we talk about? Raymond: Look at how different the paths are. Cornelius: What do you say? Raymond: Look at the differences between the paths. The one to the left is dark and gloomy. The one to the right seems to be picturesque. Why do you think they are different? Cornelius: I don't know. I suppose the sun reflects differently upon them. Raymond: Really? Cornelius: I don't know. Raymond: I wonder why. Cornelius: So do I. Raymond: Why will we never know? Cornelius: Why the paths are so different? I guess it is just one of those facts that will always be unanswered. Raymond: I think there is something more to it. Why is life so strange? Cornelius: Strange? In what ways? Raymond: How do we arrive on this Earth? Why here? What looms beyond our realm of comprehension? What is our existence? Cornelius: Quite striking questions, Raymond. Why do they matter? Raymond: Why do you matter? Cornelius: Why do you matter? Raymond: Why do we matter? Cornelius: Why does anything matter? Raymond: Nothing matters, that's the point. Cornelius: Yes, I presume so. Raymond: What difference does it make, if we are all bound for the grave? Cornelius: Why, it makes no difference at all. Raymond: Then why try? Cornelius: Why not try? Raymond: What purpose will it serve? Cornelius: Isn't it better to at least make your mark in this world, than to make no mark at all in any world? Shouldn't you at least leave a legacy? Raymond: What good is a legacy? Cornelius: Why, when we all depart, our ancestors shall remember what we did on our brief period of time on this planet. Raymond: But then they'll die, and we'll be forgotten. Cornelius: Yes, you've gotten me again. Which path shall it be? Raymond: No path. Not now. Cornelius: Why not now? Raymond: The time isn't right. Cornelius: When will the time be right? Raymond: Who knows? What is time? Cornelius: Don't play games with me. You know how I loathe uncertainty. Raymond: Do you? You seem to be full of it. Cornelius: Undermining me, aren't you? I see your presumptuous ways. Raymond: I don't. Nor do I care. Cornelius: What shall we do? Raymond: Wait, I guess. Cornelius: For what? Raymond: I don't know. Change of scenery? Cornelius: How do you suppose this change of scenery will come about? Raymond: I suppose it shall come about once I make a decision. But the time isn't right. Cornelius: Well, it is getting dark. We should get some rest. I expect a decision in the morning. Then, the time will be right!
Both lie down in the brush. The wind blows the grass back and forth as Cornelius and Raymond toss and turn in their sleep. A sense of uncertainty looms in the air.
Morning comes. Enter Cornelius and Raymond.
Cornelius: Today is a brand new day, my friend. Where shall we head? Raymond: I don't know yet. Cornelius: What?! You had plenty of time to ponder upon this. I'm getting restless. Raymond: I just don't feel comfortable yet. Give me some time. Cornelius: Damn your comfort. I need to get out of this forest before I go insane. Raymond: Please sit, Cornelius. We shall know soon enough. Cornelius: How long is soon enough? Raymond: Soon enough. Cornelius: How much time? Raymond: What is time? Cornelius: Don't play with me. Raymond: What game? Cornelius: I'm tired of you. Raymond: I am tired of life. Cornelius: Why? Raymond: I just am, that's all. Cornelius: That's curious, isn't it? Raymond: I suppose so. Cornelius: You fascinate me. Raymond: Nature fascinates me. So does astronomy, philosophy, and human existence. Cornelius: Astounding. Raymond: What? Cornelius: Nothing. Raymond: Define nothing. Cornelius: I suppose you want me to say that nothingness is vast space composed of elementary particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, and quarks. Is my assumption correct? Raymond: I was just seeing how far you would go, and you went into great depth. Cornelius: Yes, I suppose so. Raymond: But it does not matter now, because I have made up my mind. Cornelius: Have you elected which path to take? Raymond: No. I have concluded that we are nothing. Cornelius: What do you mean? Raymond: We are born from nothing, we live and amount to nothing, and we are nothing when we decease. Cornelius: You are quite the cynic. Have you ever embraced optimism? Raymond: I simply see that world as it is. Cornelius: Do you? Take a look around you. Look at the forest. Do you not see beauty looming in the trees? Do the soothing melodies of the sparrow not scream with beauty? Raymond: Beauty and optimism are two concepts that should not be intertwined. Optimism is the folly that the weak minded rely on to affirm their existence. Cornelius: Why not? Does beauty not invoke a sense of hope or promise? Is that not optimism? Raymond: Beauty is an aesthetic pleasure which appeases the needs of the soul. Optimism should not interfere with the delicate process of apprehending beauty. Cornelius: I see. Then can beauty ever truly be attained? Does emotion not contribute a great deal to this process? Is beauty truly universal? Raymond: You and I determine what is beautiful by using the same process, but we might disagree upon some contingencies over what the exact definition of true beauty is. Cornelius: Ah, I see. Raymond: But do you really see? Cornelius: Why, yes. My eyes do not deceive. Raymond: But the objects that you perceive are they truly existent? Or are they merely faded memories that are floating through our realm of comprehension? Cornelius: Why what is your supposition? Are you saying that there is no cohesive bond between the past, the present, and the future? Raymond: Perhaps. But who can tell? Cornelius: Yes. Who can? Raymond: I asked you. Cornelius: And I asked you. Raymond: What does it matter? Our questions will always remain unanswered. Cornelius: It's better to ask them than to keep them inside, is it not? Raymond: I suppose. Cornelius: I am aching with restlessness, Raymond. Please make a decision. Raymond: What's the point of deciding? Cornelius: Perhaps, if we take action, we might alter our existence. Raymond: I don't suppose action will resolve the issue. Cornelius: Then what will resolve the issue? Raymond: We must find that answer. Cornelius: How are answers found? Raymond: By curiosity. Cornelius: Ah, isn't that curious? Raymond: Isn't that ironic? Cornelius: I don't see how so. Raymond: Well, anyhow, I cannot make the decision. It has already been made for me. Cornelius: Which path? Raymond: I do not know. The answer has not presented itself yet. It will emerge soon. Cornelius: It better come soon. Raymond: It shall. Cornelius: Are you certain? Raymond: I don't know. Cornelius: Are we certain? Raymond: Nothing is. Cornelius: What can we affirm? Raymond: Nothing. Cornelius: What is nothing? Raymond: We've answered that question already. Cornelius: Have we? Raymond: Indeed. Cornelius: Oh my.
Night falls. The forest grows calm and the air still.
Cornelius: It's late, isn't it? Raymond: I suppose according to your definition of late, it is. Cornelius: Well, I am going to get some sleep then. Raymond: Who knows if we are in a permanent state of slumber. Are we merely an illusion or a dream? Cornelius: Good night. Raymond: Is the night good? Cornelius: I'm done with you. Raymond: Likewise.
Silence fills the air. The bushes rustle quietly, and the trees rattle and shake. Exit Raymond and Cornelius.
Enter Cornelius and Raymond. It is early in the morning, and they are arising from sleep. They are still in the same location, but there is a slight change of scenery. Raymond notices this, and has a look of trepidation on his face. Cornelius does not yet realize. Time is irrelevant.
Raymond: Cornelius, do you not notice the change of the paths? Cornelius: Why, no, what has changed? Raymond: Do you seriously not know? Cornelius: No, I do not. Raymond: I am quite puzzled, I must say. Do you not see three paths before us? Cornelius: Weren't there always three? Raymond: No, I am quite sure there were two last night before we went to sleep. Cornelius: There were always three, trust me. Raymond: How can you not apprehend the difference? Cornelius: Are you going mad? Why are you so concerned with the matter? Raymond: Because yesterday, you see, I was to choose between two paths. Now, I must choose between three. Quite an unnecessary complication, to say the least. Cornelius: What difference does an extra path make? You're acting as if this change came suddenly. It has always been as such. Raymond: No. That's the problem. It hasn't always been that way. It couldn't have because from my recollection, there were clearly two paths. Now, unless you can prove otherwise, I am standing by my belief of the two paths. Cornelius: Are there three paths now? Raymond: Why, yes. Cornelius: Then, how can a path just suddenly appear? It must have always been this way. Raymond: But you see, my apprehension of the matter is far different from yours, so who is to differentiate between us? Is there any way to truly reconcile this matter? Cornelius: I am not sure I can answer that question. Raymond: Precisely the point, Cornelius. There are some questions that we are incapable of answering. That is the problem that we have. Cornelius: Yes, but some are ostensibly apparent, so why trouble over them? Raymond: You are missing the point entirely. Cornelius: Am I? Raymond: Yes. I do not know what to say to you. I'm baffled, to be honest. Cornelius: Well, do not be. Just please choose a path. Raymond: If I couldn't decide between two paths, what makes you think that I will decide between three? Have you any sense? Cornelius: I presume that it would be a bit more difficult, but nonetheless practical. Please decide. I think I am literally going insane. Raymond: Yes, I can tell. You have lost all sense. Cornelius: Apparently so. Raymond: Please regain your normal sense of operation. It frustrates me to see you be so incompetent. Cornelius: But I have always been this way. Raymond: No! You have not. I say, I am delusional. Or are you? Cornelius: Or am I? Raymond: Or am I? Cornelius: Who knows? What a conundrum we have here. And it is all over a simple action. Raymond: Superficially simple. But there is quite a complex rationale that goes into such decisions. I have to weigh all of the possible outcomes, think of all the different consequences of my actions, and hope that the path I choose might lead us out of this damned illusion of a forest. Cornelius: So much thought. Quite astounding. Raymond: Yes, I'm afraid that it wouldn't hurt you to think a little. I believe your thought process has given way to vast nothingness. Cornelius: Or, has it temporarily suspended action? Raymond: It would be a permanent matter, trust me. Cornelius: Alright then.
Raymond begins to think out loud.
Raymond: Yes, I suppose, somehow, that the world has been altered, for I do not recall it being this way. But how is it, that these changes are so drastic and so sudden? Or, perhaps, do these changes occur inside of my mind? Why am I so lost in this cruel world? Time, you wretched monster, why is it that you beseech me? Why so many questions? Will they ever be answered? Why does Cornelius not act as he usually does? Am I ignorant, and is that why these changes have occurred? Or, are the past, present and future merging to alter reality? I cannot understand, I will not understand, and quite frankly, nobody will understand. I am pathetic. I look unto this terrestrial path, and simply understand the world superficially. I will never be able to fully grasp the breadth and beauty of life, the harmony and tranquil of nature, and the meaning or purpose of human existence. What a cruel destiny, what a lurid fate! Ah, but I am not alone. Six billion other beings shall share my fate, shall suffer the same agony, and shall dissipate into the unknown, never truly understanding their place in the universe. But, if there was only a way to discover such truths, if only I could solve it! Then, my heart would be contented, and I could rest peacefully. Perhaps, the sad truth is that I shall always suffer. Is that an inevitable part of life? I believe so. For, if one was to live without suffering, then human existence would be a complete lie. We would hide behind a veil of artificiality, never truly experiencing life for what it is. The triumphs would be mundane, and with the lack of hardship, success would not be something attained, but rather something given at birth. Now, I am faced with three paths, which have apparently been as such for all time. But, no, it could not have been so. How could my eyes deceive me? I know that there were two paths; in fact I am quite certain. Or am I? What is certain? Is anybody? What challenges I face ahead of me! Which path to choose, which road to take, which direction to head? Every action supposedly has an equal and opposite reaction, so what will the outcome of my decision be? How I long to know! Why does mystery stir within me? Why does my soul long for the absolute knowledge of where each path leads? Why does indecision cripple progress? But, why bother with all of this? What fruition will come of it? I am afraid nothing. Life ultimately amounts to nothing, no matter what is done. We all die, we all decay, and we all are forgotten. What is the point? Shall I embrace this nothingness? Cornelius: Why, quite a tangent that was! Now, rid yourself of such doubt, and please choose a path. Raymond: It will never happen.
Raymond stands up and looks about the sylvan terrain. He peers down each path inquisitively, wondering what lies down the road. He turns to Cornelius with disappointment and a somber Countenance.
Raymond: The paths lead to nowhere. Cornelius: Well, they must lead somewhere. Why wouldn't they lead somewhere? Raymond: That is your primary fault. The paths do not matter. They are irrelevant, I must say. You see, no matter which path we decide to take, they will all lead to the inevitable. None shall truly lead us out of confusion. It will serve us better to stay where we are. Cornelius: Stop with such folly! We cannot simply stay here for the rest of our lives. Raymond: Actually, we can. Cornelius: Well, you can. I believe that I am going to leave. Raymond: So, this is how it will end? Cornelius: Yes, I'm afraid so. Raymond: So be it. It is as you like. Cornelius: It will be best. I'm sorry to leave you, friend. Raymond: Do not be sorry. It is fate.
Cornelius gathers his belongings and heads towards the paths. He walks with trepidation, seemingly apprehensive about his decision. He carefully chooses the center path, and as he walks further, he turns back continually. Raymond puts down his head, feeling sorrow. He sits on the stump, and waits.
Raymond: What woes come to me! I shall sit and wait, and one day, perhaps the truth shall be unfurled onto me by divine decree. Until that fateful day, I shall delve into the world in which I live, seeking the answers through nature. Maybe my fellow man shall learn to do the same. Only time will tell. However, time is simply irrelevant, and faith is for the weak. So, what purpose does existence hold?
Raymond lies down in a bed of roses and stares at the sky. He shuts his eyes. Exeunt.