Chapter 27: Power, Part Three: The Opposite of Power

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Kim ran into The Atlantean Hotel and sat down in the lobby. She needed to talk to Sister Ash immediately. 

She dialed Ash’s number. No answer.

She dialed Ash’s number again. No answer.

She texted Ash: HI CALL ME NOW 911 SIREN.GIF IMPORTANT!!! No answer.

She called Ash again. Ash answered! “WHAT.” came the angry response.

“Hi,” Kim said. “So I’m in Dubai and everything sucks. I was wondering if--”

“FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF,” Ash yelled into the phone before hanging up.

Kim stared at the dead phone in disbelief. “What the heck!”

She scrolled through her emoji. That had to be something that would help. There was no witch emoji so she pressed Fire + Princess + SOON With Rightwards Arrow + Arrow Pointing Rightwards Then Downwards. 

She hoped this would convey to Ash on some magical level that she needed to speak with her soon. It did more than that. As soon as Kim’s fingers pressed the last emoji, Ash came hurtling down from somewhere above, landing with an unceremonious thud in the chair across from Kim.

“Whoa, that worked better than I was expecting!” Kim clapped.

Ash took a panicked look around to get her bearings. Her eyes landed on Kim in wide-eyed horror. “What the hell did you just do? How did I get here?”

“I’ve been trying to talk to you! I’m annoyed about this challenge!”

“What spell did you just cast?”

“Idk, just some random emoji.”

“You’re C-list, you’re not supposed to be able to cast a spell that powerful.”

Kim waved the question away. “My phone’s been acting weird. Anyways LISTEN. I was talking to the camel and I realized something--

Ash put her hand up to silence Kim. “Excuse me, what?”

“I realized something?”

“No, before that.”

“I was talking to the camel?”

“Yeah can we dig into that a little?”

“No! Forget the camel!” There was a low, sorrowful moan from out in the courtyard. “The point is my realization. I think I’ve been approaching this challenge in the totally wrong way.”

“Okay fine, so?” Ash closed her eyes and rubbed her neck. She tried to stretch it out and winced in pain.

Kim winced too. “Ohhh, did you get hurt when you came flying in here? I’m sorry. That’s my fault. Here.” Kim pressed the Fire + Snake emojis and a very warm snake appeared in Kim’s lap. She handed it to Ash. “Here, use this. Heating pad.”

Ash gingerly accepted the snake and let it coil itself around her neck and upper chest. It actually did feel really good. 

“Okay, so, go on,” Ash said. “You had a realization?”

“Yes,” Kim said. “That’s it. That I was going about the challenge the wrong way.”

“That’s it? That’s your epiphany? That’s what you brought me here to say?”

“Well this is a garbage challenge! I’m running around the world doing all these errands for people and it’s LAME. It could just go on forever with me making endless promises to countless people for the rest of my life.”

“Umm, yeah? That’s the point of the challenge? Power lies in finding your way through that?”

“Okay, well, but I’ve learned a lot: people always want things, just because you have power and money and friends doesn’t mean all your problems are easy to solve, you have to be careful about which relationships you cultivate because some people just want to use you, umm.. what else. We truly live in a global economy? Camels give you money? Basically I’ve learned a bunch and grown as a person, mission accomplished, I’m ready to level up.”

Ash blinked. “What? Absolutely not! No!”

“But...I don’t even know this Azalea Grande person, and I’m trying to help her, but everyone always wants something from me in return. Am I just supposed to go on doing favor after favor for every single person on the planet forever?”

Ash sighed. She sank back in her chair and readjusted her snake. “So, there are multiple things happening here. One is that helping other people is how life is. Stop thinking about these interactions with other people as distractions from your personal journey through life. Those interactions are the journey.” 

“But I just want to be done,” Kim said.

“That’s exactly it. You’re never done. Which brings me to my other point: Power is about seeing beyond an individual’s needs. It’s about developing an ability to weave together the disparate strands of desire that form interpersonal relationships.”

“But the more Power you have, the more people want from you, and you end up owing so many people so many favors,” Kim said.

“It’s not about doing favors for people,” Ash said. “That’s the oposite of Power. You’re letting people tell you what their needs are, but anyone can throw money and K-Stars at a problem until it goes away. Power is about the bigger picture. It’s about anticipating needs, and understanding how and when an individuals’ desire can be connected to something beyond the scope of their vision.”

Kim was silent for a moment, letting is all sink in. This was heavy information. 

“Okay yeah,” Kim said. “I think I get it.”

“So,” Ash continued. “If Azalea Grande needs a singing gig, the question is...”

“What do I need,” Kim said.

“Well, How are your needs aligned? is how I would put it, but yes.”

“Okay,” Kim said, nodding to herself as she processed the information. “Cool. Good talk.”

Ash stood. “Can I go now? You know what you’re doing?”

“Yes,” Kim said. “Something I should have done a long time ago.”

“You have some fun with that,” Ash said. “I’m keeping the snake, btw.” She slid her fingers across her screen and disappeared.

Kim was ready now to finish calling the third corner. She dialed Other Kim’s number. 

“Hi,” Kim said, when Other Kim answered. “I was just talking to a camel and had the best idea.”

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