“The one who waits” by Ray Bradbury is a multiple layer science-fiction story.
On the first plan this is a narration about an Earth crew arriving to explore and conquer Mars. It seems no Earth mind acknowledges this mission impossible and no doubt crawls into a man’s conscience - everything should be known, put into lab test bottles, classified and appropriated, everything should be under a man’s reign - including Mars lands – which should be “equally divided among the member nations”. “Where is the flag?”
A man has no doubts in what he represents, in what his essence is and in what he is doing. He is self-confident.
And here lies the common and ever existing error of the opinionated Mankind who has no time to wait, no time to listen – everything has become so common and so his “own” – even the treasure of life itself – breathing, feeling, speaking, walking – are considered a man’s “simple” abilities, a capital, invested in him by Someone… But Whom? What for? No time to think about it. Since Mars is waiting… Act!
But Mars is not so evident and simple - Mars has been keeping its secrets for long. The members of the crew fall under Mars spell, to be devoured by Mars “Soul Well”, become part of the Universe memory… “sad and old”. The crew is dissolved in Mars, stays here, in the Soul Well, forever. Tss … tss .. Wait! Just wait in the Well, listen and watch out of it, see what happens next…
The crew has not been the first to come, since the Soul Well is not empty... And sure they are not the last – do you see the lights? – another rocket of the selfish mankind is already approaching the territory of Mars … to reproduce the story.
The underneath layer of the story reflects the attempts of a man to reveal the mystery of Existence.
The humanity, universe memory is inside each of us, and it makes accessible “the old songs” of this ancient and at the same time new and ever young world. This everlasting memory is Earth, known and dear to us. Earth is Home. We have come into existence from Earth. We have come to Mars – unknown, subject to be studied, destined to help us to understand who we are, to return us to ourselves. Our memories link us to Earth, hold and keep us safe and integral.
We do not know who we are – asking this question every moment of our existence we do not know the answer.
Who are we?
"How can I tell you what I am when even I don't know? I cannot. I am simply waiting."
We seem to be abrupt pieces of something huge, vital, mighty which has been split into numerous pieces since ZERO POINT of landing here, on Mars.
Despite we have been breathing, eating, feeling for some decades already (or maybe thousands of years?), still we know that these skeletons, this flesh are not real us. We do not know who we are and we are simply waiting, from inside the well of our flesh, being all “mist and moonlight and memory”. We are simply waiting our hour, ripening.
Though the life is not always friendly and sometimes it seems that ‘’Mars does not want us”, the Earth memories help us out, help not to be lost and we know there will be a day when we no longer wait. It will happen when we realize ourselves coming from a “soul well” – for a quick while Earth memories wake us up – we see how it’s good to do all the things we have been so accustomed to do during all these (thousands?) years of waiting –
... “ it’s good to breathe the air, to feel the sun in the flesh deep and going deeper, and it’s good to feel the structure of ivory, and fine skeleton hidden in the warming flesh, and it is good to hear sounds much clearer and more immediate than they were in the stone deepness of a well”.
We are awake. We are enchanted. We realize that these sensations are mere treasure. And this is what can be called life. Why has not it been evident before? Oh ...yes. We have been waiting to come out of the soul well – to see this marvel of existence. The language we speak is alien to us, though wait… we can distinguish the sense of the words which are balancing on the edge of our tongues. Yes, “coming out of the well” we seem to know this language “falling with slow beauty out into the air”. We walk – and it’s a good walking, after experiencing “a stone deepness of a well” it’s good to be on a fine cliff, and to be happy there!
We feel awarded after the years of intensive and hardworking “waiting”.
The universe soul well combines “things that once had flesh “and it’s difficult to resist the powerful call attracting its numerous tiny parts to recreate the unique untouched primary Integrity.
Where do I end up? Where does another begin? We are all linked, holding each other’s hands. We are all bound. Where is me? Where are you? We are all One, interlaced within what is called the Mankind.
And the story does not end up with us.
Another rocket is coming… leaving red marks on space. We are in this rocket. And we are still simply waiting. To be born. To get free. To get ripe. Help us out! After the years of waiting, let us be ourselves, let us find ourselves, let us realize ourselves parts – maybe tiny but precious ones – of this huge Universe.