The Two Dimensional Table

This story isn’t of my creation. It’s old: probably as old as the first spiritual teacher who walked our planet, teaching it to his followers who asked questions of him, especially questions like, “how do we know what you say is true?” and, “if you can’t prove it, maybe that means you’re some kind of a nut!” This story has been repeated many times down through the ages, in many Learning Centers, in many cultures. 

Having said that, I’ll only add that what’s new in this story is my version of telling it. You be the judge whether It’s true, or, like so many have derided, the man was nuts.

There once lived a man who had a large, flat table in his study. The table was framed in expensive mahogany and, judging by the frame’s ornate design, one could tell that it was of ancient origin and very painstakingly and lovingly carved.  On that table, the man–the owner of that flat table, had created a very bustling civilization: men, women and animals of every kind. The men on that flat table had created roads that connected their homes to their neighbor’s homes that allowed them to travel to the right, to the left, sideways–the full length and breadth of the table. It was all very beautiful! There was just one restriction: they were all living in a two dimensional world!

The man–the owner of that table, came to love is creation very much and wanted to give them even more than they already enjoyed, more than just having to live on that two dimensional table, so one day he appeared to one of the men and asked him if he had ever looked up.

“What’s up?” asked the man. “I see forwards, I see backwards, I see to my right and to my left, but, what’s looking up?”

Ever so gently the Creator of that table took the man and lifted him up and brought him into his world. Surprised and little bewildered at first, the man took a moment to look around and orient himself to his new environment.

“Wow!” the man finally exclaimed, still at awe but loving what he saw. “I can see forwards, I can see behind me, to my left, to my right, and best of all I can now see up! This is truly a wonderful, wonderful three dimensional world that I am experiencing!”

With great enthusiasm and excitement he told his Creator, “I must go back to my two dimensional world and tell everyone how wonderful it is to to look up. Maybe I can show them how they, too can look up!”

The Creator–the man who owned the flat table, blessed the man with the ability to  teach and with encouragement and patience. Then, just as gently as he had picked him up, he placed him back into his familiar two dimensional world.

“People, gather ’round!” the man cried. “Gather around, all of you: old, young, women and children, gather around because I have some good news to tell you!”

“You been smokin’ that weed of yours again?” an elder of the tribe jeered.

“No, it’s true!” the man insisted. “We no longer have to live in just a two dimensional world. We can also look up and experience a  three dimensional world!”

“You’re scarin’ our children with your nonsense!” a women shouted.

“You keep talkin’ like that and I’ll have to arrest you for blasphemy!” added the local constable.

Finally, even after all the encouragement the Creator had blessed him with, the man threw up his hands in frustration and retired to a hidden cave far removed from his two dimensional civilization, and there spent the rest of his days reflecting on the wonders that he had seen while in the third dimension.

You be the judge. Was the man “just smokin’ weed” — disillusioned, a threat to society, or are we the ones who are nuts?


About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
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