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Excerpt from A Past Outside of Time The Stairs of Responsibility

Novel:Death's Endauthor:liu pubdate:2019-03-10 12:46

All my life has been spent climbing up a flight of stairs made of responsibility.
When I was little, my only duty was to study hard and obey my parents.
Later, in high school and college, the responsibility to study hard continued, but there was also the added obligation to make myself useful rather than a drain on society.
By the time I started to work toward my doctorate, my responsibilities became more concrete. I needed to contribute to the development of chemical rockets, to build more powerful, more reliable rockets so that more materials and a few men and women could be sent into Earth orbit.
Later, I joined the PIA, and my responsibility was to send a probe into space a light-year away to meet the invading Trisolaran Fleet. This was a distance about ten billion times greater than the distance I had worked with as a rocket engineer.
And then, I received a star. During the new era, it brought me previously unimaginable responsibilities. I became the Swordholder, whose duty was to maintain dark forest deterrence. Looking back on it now, perhaps it was a bit of an exaggeration to claim that I held the fate of humankind; but I really did control the direction of development for two civilizations.
Later, my responsibilities became more complicated: I wanted to endow humans with lightspeed wings, but I also had to thwart that goal to prevent a war.
I don’t know how much those catastrophes and the final destruction of the Solar System had to do with me. Those are questions that could never be answered definitively. But I’m certain they had something to do with me, with my responsibilities.
And now, I’ve climbed to the apex of responsibility: I am responsible for the fate of the universe. Of course this responsibility doesn’t belong only to me and Guan Yifan, but we own a share of the responsibility, a share of something that I never could have imagined.
I want to tell all those who believe in God that I am not the Chosen One. I also want to tell all the atheists that I am not a history-maker. I am but an ordinary person. Unfortunately, I have not been able to walk the ordinary person’s path. My path is, in reality, the journey of a civilization.
And now we know that this is the journey that must be made by every civilization: awakening inside a cramped cradle, toddling out of it, taking flight, flying faster and farther, and, finally, merging with the fate of the universe as one.
The ultimate fate of all intelligent beings has always been to become as grand as their thoughts.


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