“I'm looking for the thing that will fill the hole in my soul. I have everything— riches you will never comprehend. Men and women love me, the people want to be me, and I have endless companions. I can afford to adorn them with rare jewels and house them in my massive castle. I have a whole wing filled with wine older than my grandfather. I have a closet larger than town square. I have everything I want. “You have nothing compared to me. Your horse has one leg in the grave and my steed makes it look dead already. Your own home is crumbling and one day, it will crush you. The fireplace is more ash than flame and your carpet has withered. Your clothes are tattered, tarnished with the filth of a poor man's life. You survive, but I live. You will never understand my wondrous life. You clean up shattered pieces and try to save your life's wreckage but you will never be as close to this feeling as I am. But, how could you? You've been dealt a hand full of holes. You've lost. I truly pity you and these creaky floorboards and the crying ceiling and that moth banging on the windowsill.” The man goes to the window. Loving hands scoop the small creature and carry it to the door. He releases it and it flies to the sky. “It won't survive.” “Probably not.” “It wouldn't have lived much longer in here either.” “…“ “Why did you release it?” “Because that's where it wanted to finish life. In the sky, where it is free.” “I want to die embraced with warmth. The moth is a stupid creature, choosing cold over comfort.” “Why do you so strongly hate that which you cannot understand?” “I, well—,” “Do you want to feel complete? Think. Do you really have everything you want?” “What more could there be to gain?!” The man counts on his fingers. “Money, pleasure, friends, jewels— I have it all!” “Do you have love?” “Of course! I love tea.” The kettle is removed from the fireplace by the other man. He pours the boiling water into two cups, swirling crushed tea leaves. “I love my mother and father. I love my kingdom.” “Do you love yourself?” he asks while handing him a glass. “Of course…” The wealthy man pauses. “Well… What constitutes self-love?” “Self-love is not just treating yourself to your desires. It is to be confident, to seek validation from only yourself, to be virtuous, to know what you truly want.” “How will I know?” “First, realize the moth knows its wants better than you.” “Are you comparing your king to a moth?” “Second, realize you are just an animal serving its animalistic desires.” “Hey—“ “You need people to love you in order to love yourself. You lack the esteem to consider yourself lovable. You bring down others so you can rise up. You surround yourself in material value and gorge because you have no sense of reason. Your friends are slimy and they will leave you the second you cannot provide.” The man pauses his speech. He takes in the other man, glass in hand, eyes bent wide, brows furrowed. “You have to want to be good. Do good, spread good, follow your morals, be ethical. If you look deeper and inspect the waves of your mind, you will find completion.” The man drinks his last sip of tea. “I must leave.” He sets the cup down and the discarded tea leaves settle. “What will you do next?” He leans in to look and see the way the leaves have fallen. The man crosses floorboards worn from pacing feet. He takes a final look at shards lovingly collected and a carpet that has nourished. He grabs a copper handle that has worn away to gold, then opens the door. “I'll learn how to love.” He closes the door. In the stable, his horse has its head turned and resting on the back of the other. He gently wakes them. They exchange goodbyes and the man adds his fur coat to the blankets piling the aged horse, covering frost-tipped ears. They make it back to the main road. By now, the crowd has dispersed, and only the sound of wind and thumping gallops follow. The snow glistens from the rising sun, painting the man and his horse in orange and red. Something glows from the light on the horse's mane. He gingerly picks it up, delicate like glass. Its wings look shattered and broken, twitching as he cups it in his palm. “The moth died for what it wanted.” He leaves its body to rest in a bright place under the sun.
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