The very idea of a story 'starting in the middle' is nonsense, because no story comes in a vacuum with nothing to precede it, nor to follow. Consider, by way of relatively random example, Hansel and Gretel. The story begins with their impoverished parents (primarily the mother in most versions, made a stepmother in some) deciding to abandon them in the woods. But how did that impoverishment come about? Was it always so, or was their a falling of fortune in that family? And impoverished or not, what life experiences led the mother to have the sort of characteristics which would lead one to wish such a thing upon her own children? For their mothers had mothers and their fathers had fathers and the circumstances of their lives all necessarily worked so as to bring about this story. And the witch in the woods, what was she doing all this time? When did she decide to build a gingerbread house? Was this a constant lure, or had she only a few victims before these two (and how did she come to be a witch, and a cannibal; or was she human at all)? How did Verona come to be home to Montagues and Capulets? How did the first Jedi become a Jedi? And what use was made of the Force before that?

And what, then, if we trace back through every story and all of this and claim a beginning for our Universe, whether scientific or theological? We are still never assuredly at 'the beginning,' for, what existed before our Universe? If it was nothing, what change in conditions permitted something to come from nothing, or caused a heretofore passive Creator to activate and world-create? Do we occupy some point in a linear progression of time, or are we part of some ever-repeating cycle? We are in the middle, and not even in the beginning of the middle or the end of the middle, or the end of the beginning of the middle. We are nowhere but squarely in the middle of the middle, and our every story for tens of millions of years past and in the future will muddle through the middle of this middle.

Our lives begin. Our lives end. But every such beginning, every such ending, is but the middle of some other story, a benchmark or a bookmark in lives surrounding ours; and every day marks the middle of some unknowing person's life, the point at which the number of days until their death is fewer than those from their birth, and will thenceforth only wane. Which day was the middle day of our lives will never be known until the day of our death. But we can be certain that on that middle day, that long forgotten hinge of our being, some new story began which was destined from its birth to outlive us, perhaps even to last just so long that our death itself coincides with (or even marks) its own middle. And, just so, the end of that story will mark the midpoint of yet another, and another, and another until, to paraphrase the Bard, all our yesterdays will have lighted fools the way to dusty death.

And even then, the story does not end, never ends, for who knows, who can possibly imagine, what will come in the future beyond our own existence, beyond our worlds and stars. Perhaps infinite stories can be told of lone particles of existence dancing in the vast, vast, emptiness of almost-but-not-quite nothing.


For INMEDIARES: a Quest in the middle of things

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