“But isn’t it too utilitarian to say that the reason to live on this earth is to do things?” Pavel questioned.
“What is wrong with utilitarianism?”
“It seems kind of cold. And it can be used to justify technology, which you seem to be against.”
“Perhaps you are confusing efficiency with utility. Usefulness helps one attain what is valuable. One values what one wants, which may or may not be what one should have. Efficiency is more technical and materialistic, less about values.”
“What do you value?”
“Truth and rightness. And you?”
“Your answer is better.” Elena felt unexpectedly sad and walked on with her head down.
“What is the matter?” Pavel asked.
“I don’t know.”
Pavel touched her shoulder. Elena looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
“It’s ok. Hey, look. There’s a squirrel.” Pavel took the twig trap he’d made off his back. He placed it under the tree and took out some pine nuts from his pocket while Elena sliced a piece of apple for bait. He set the trap with the twig around which he had wound a long tied-together strip of cloth made from Elena’s dress. They hid behind a bush and waited the usual amount of time until the squirrel went in and was trapped.
While Pavel stabbed him through the twigs, Elena said, “Utilitarian distractions make a sad person feel better.”
“What an analyst you are. Can’t you just feel things without thinking about them so much?”
“No. You have to make sure your feelings are justified.”
“Because people can be overly sentimental and deceived by their emotions into doing wrong things.”
“Like spoiling people and getting into illicit relationships. You have to think about consequences.”
“Too much thinking can make you miss a moment. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. Unthinking reflexes also help you catch dinner.”
“You had to intelligently make a stage for your reflexes to be most effective. You couldn’t just blindly start running after the squirrel, or yell at him to come to your knife. The mind has to be in control and protect the gut, as you put it.”
“I think the heart is stronger than the mind. The mind will eventually wear out and the heart will have its way. That’s why you cried a while ago. Your mind couldn’t stop it.”
“The squirrel could.”
“Squirrels must be stronger than hearts, then, right?” Pavel joked.
“Probably because of the strength of the gut.” Elena thought a moment, “If one is starving, food is all they care about. Once satisfied, they can afford to think about and feel other things. Maybe people are different in if one’s conscience or one’s heart is stronger.”
“I still think the heart is stronger, if one is not starving to death. The brain or conscience takes over if the heart is injured.”
“Or if the heart is stupid. Maybe some people’s hearts are naturally smarter and they can listen to them.”
“I’ll have to think about that.”