Waverers wave goodbye
Today is move-out day. I watch the Uniformists leave together. They will split up at the train station, but not before each Uniformist gives each other Uniformist a hug and says, “Although we will be apart, we are always one and the same.”
The Creativists will leave separately, each using a different mode of transportation, whether it is running, skipping, jumping, hopping, hopscotching, bouncing on a pogo stick, bicycling, unicycling, tricycling, skateboarding, rollerskating, cartwheeling, sitting on a shopping cart being pushed by a friend, skiing (difficult in this weather), topsy-turvy (imitating the antics of drunk people they have seen in foreign films), or closing one’s eyes as one walks and imagining that one is floating on a magic carpet, rather than walking.
It is good that each religion has its way with coping with goodbyes. For the Uniformists, there is no goodbye because goodbyes can only be between people who are different. The Creativists, on the other hand, are too preoccupied with creating to be sad.
I am helping the Waverers today as they wave goodbye to every individual as ey leave campus (note that the Uniformists are treated as one individual). I help them by delivering beverages. Today is a hot day, so I deliver lemonade, juice, and the occasional bottle of “iced tea” (or hot tea, for the more stalwart/traditional).
“Who are the Waverers?” Fron asked me during walk-in office hours on Thursday.
This was his second question. The first was “What’s the meaning of wearing a U-shirt above rainbow Creativist pants?”
“As an agnostic, I prefer to mix the best parts of each religion,” I said. “Please sit down, have some tea, and tell me about your religious troubles.”
To answer his question, I led him to the window and pointed to a boy standing on the grass. When someone passed, the boy would run over, wave to them, and shout something. The passerby would then look plesed.
“That is a Waverer, Fron.
“The Waverers used to be called the Wavers, because that is what they do. I’m not sure why their name changed. It may be that many people confused waving with wavering, thinking that waving implied wavering—that a person who paid complete attention to other people didn’t have solid ideals to stand on themselves. This is, of course, false, because paying complete attention to other people is an ideal in itself.
“Their name may also derive from their body motion—the Waver/Waverers were often so caught up in waving that they actually rocked back and forth, or ‘waver.’
“But the Waverers embraced their nickname. ‘It is good to waver and be unsure about ourselves,’ they say, ‘because we are not so important. Other people are more important. That is why we wave to them.’ As long as their name does not become ‘Wavererers’, which is positively titillating and grammatically nonsensical, they will be happy.
“Waving is hard work. The Waverers maintain extensive notes about students’ inner lives, culled from Housing forms (many of the Waverers have been Housers at some point), careful observation, memorized conversations, educated guesses from anonymous posts on the ‘Missed Connections’ board, as well as non-anonymous posts on the ‘Looking for soulmates’ and ‘Looking for sexmates’ boards in front of the Department of Soulmates (upstairs). These notes are in padlocked file cabinets only accessible by those who have proved themselves to be worthy Waverers (for the potential of abuse of such private information is enormous).”
“Housers? Does that mean that the Waverer who waved at me Optimized my Housing?”
“No one person Optimizes your Housing, Fron, just as no one neuron in your brain makes you desire to read books, search for deeper meaning, or order cheese from France. The results of Housing Optimization cannot be said to result from the actions of any Houser. But we digress. Why do you ask, Fron?”
Fron explained to me that he had not been to a Uniformist lunch table since the Showdown. It felt very odd to not belong to any group, and he felt lonely on the walk to his last final exam. Rather than review the material in his head, he thought about the U-shirt he had stuffed in the corner of his laundry bag. What should he do with it? He considered donating it, but did not wish to corrupt an innocent mind into joining the Uniformists. He considered modifying the U-shirt, but that align himself with Creativist; although Fron was no longer a Uniformist, neither was he a Creativist.
For the first time, Uniformists ignored him. No longer did they yell, “Hi, you!” as they pass by, and neither did he yell, “Hey, you!” at them.
As he was musing, someone called, “Hi, Fron!”
A girl in a bright green shirt was waving at him.
Intrigued, Fron detoured in order to come closer.
“Where do I know you from?”
“You don’t know me,” she said, “But I know you!”
“Are you Pearl?”
She shook her head.
“I strive to know everyone.”
She gave a little bow.
“It may seem like few people share your vision for beauty in the world, but do not lose hope, Fron. Keep following the luminscent jellyfish inside your head. Now I will be off to greet other friends.”
“Wait! Who are you?”
She gave him a philosophy card1, which said simply “Waverer.”
“Meeting her raised my spirits,” Fron said, “Had I not run into her, my bad mood could have worsened my performance on the exam.”
I nod. It is surprising how a fellow student waving and calling out one’s name can raise one’s spirits, lifting one out of a morning depression. More tangible effects like better grades are also not uncommon.
“But, alas! Every time I meet someone beautiful,” Fron lamented, “She disappears so quickly!”
“Waverers strive to know many people. They do not have much time for each person.”2
“I did not mean to talk about the Waverers,” Fron said, “I came to inquire about the Rhymist.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know any more than was in Junali’s Philosophocler article SHOWDOWN AT THE SCOOP. I’m sure that you know more, having been present at the Scoop during the Showdown.”
“Rhymism. What do you know about Rhymism?”
I pushed my rolling chair over to the Religions file cabinet and looked under “R”.
“I’m sorry. There is no registered religion called Rhymism. There are Rhetoricians, and the Rhomboids, but that’s defunct.”
“In that case, I would like to establish the religion of Rhymism.”
I took out a “FFFR” form, “Form for Founding Religions.”
“Please describe the core tenets of your religion,” I said, “Detail the rituals and traditions on page 2, symbols on page 3, describe its conceptions of life, death, presence or absence of god or gods, the void, time, how to live a virtuous life, the existence of free will, consciousness, and the plausibility of artificial intelligence on pages 4-9, or alternatively, explanations on why these are not the right questions to ask and what are the right questions to ask in Form B, list the important prophet(s) and their roles on page 10, and attach a holy book describing the religion in detail. Sorry, some of the terminology is quaint. You may substitute ‘leader’ for ‘prophet’ and ‘brochure’ for ‘holy book.’”
“I think you’re making it too complicated,” Fron said. “Rhymism is very simple. It’s about harmony. If the true Rhymist were here, she could explain it to you in rhyme.”
“Well, it seems prophets do have a bad habit of disappearing. I do sympathize with you, Fron, but establishing a religion takes some thought. May I recommend Professor Devou’s class, Religion 101? Many founders have been inspired by this class.”
Fron scrunched up his eyebrows as he looked through the form. I imagined he would have the same expression if he were looking at a distasteful essay prompt in a class he desperately wanted a good grade in.
“Could I offer you an alternative?” I asked. “If you are overwhelmed by the level of devotion needed for a religion, perhaps you are an agnostic. At first, being an agnostic is dizzying, like walking on a glass floor on the upper levels of a busy palace. But soon, you may find that wandering through this palace and watching other people’s trajectories as they follow their religions is more enriching than following a religion of your own.”
Fron shook his head.
“Thank you very much, Agnes, but I hope to return to you with an account of Rhymism.”
I nodded. “I will be eager for the increase of diversity of religions on campus.”
I am sad that I cannot help the Waverers with more than just delivering beverages. Memorizing people’s names, faces, and deepest desires takes more devotion than I am capable of as an agnostic. I did, however, take the opportunity to wave to Fron (as well as some of my other clients), wishing him good luck in his spiritual journey.
Finally, the last non-Waverer students dribble out of Philosophocle.
I still have one last question, though, before the Waverers wave me goodbye.
“After everyone has left, who waves to the Waverers? Do you wave to each other?”
Wyverra, the leader of the Waverers, shakes her head. “The Waverers do not wave to themselves. No one waves to the Waverers. We must always remember: it is more important to wave to others than to ourselves.”
I am humbled by the Waverer’s waves as I take my leave. If only there were more such religious groups on campus! Next year, I must do more to promote an atmosphere of religious harmony.