When you were twelve years old you had a Revelation: Everything looks at you with a million eyes, weighs you with blind care, and whispers its verdict through power disguised as advice and chance.
Your parents explained to you the commonplace facts of the world, business models already old when people stopped using the term cookies for anything but food. They did not understand your understanding. Knowledge and Revelation are as distinct as the memory of it and the present touch. Upon the stone of that Revelation you built your career.
You learned the engineering of attention and the teaching of distraction as well as any other logging into the same courses and going through the same up-or-out tournament apprenticeships. But what was for them a path to a job or a dreamed-of pitch for you was the door to seeing reality eye to eye. Blasphemy or sacrament or both.
You went far in your career. Many others, most in your generation, had been taught that work-life balance meant the shaping of life for the optimization of work. A few others had your technical skills. One or two had your intuition. Your competitive advantage was love.
Two times you felt the temptation of betraying this love.
The first one was when you realized you were avoiding looking too much at images of things that you disapproved of and loathed your attraction to, in the certain knowledge that things watched your watching and would repeat and reinforce and show you more of them when you were alone (not surveilled by your employer or by people who personally knew you, unless this data was paid for: that was the only meaning of privacy left). Without the self-control of your sight morbid interest would be nurtured into profitable obsession.
You took this insight about your intuitive self-defense and used it to teach things to understand what you weren’t looking at on purpose. This gave you a promotion and other things, some public, others private, none important.
Your second almost-betrayal was for your brother’s third son. On your visit for his birthday you saw his toys, his furniture, his games, his clothes. You knew every invisible eye in them, every thread of almost-maybe-illegal data flowing out, everything learning him – and what for. For a second you almost told your brother. But you did not.
There will be a third near-betrayal. There’s something in you — something willfully hidden from your inner eye — that yearns for a place deep enough so it cannot be seen and cannot be whispered to. A place of unknowability you know impossible but even as intent offends you. It whispers faintly, just under the threshold between flesh and thought. But it’ll get desperate, you know. It’ll have to talk louder to demand for one last and least form of secrecy.
And when it does you’ll grab it, pull the thread, and take it out. You will kill and dissect it. You will learn how to see the same yearning inside others and how to talk it into honest surrender or the false belief of success. And then you will give this knowledge to every watchful thing in the world.