Each autumn the pilgrims would come.
They would climb for five days, barefoot and clad only in bubble-wrap, to the Ephemeral Monastery, high in the mountains of Tibet. These hardy souls came seeking answers to universal questions, since they had learned not to trust Wikipedia.
No woman has ever set foot in the monastery, because they have more sense.
The pilgrims would be woken by the Ephemeral Monks at four a.m. each morning to welcome a day that would not start for another three hours, the spiritual equivalent of filming a Christmas special in October. After a meagre breakfast of yak, named after the sound made upon tasting it, they would visit the Gardens of Transience, where they would study the wilting flowers and aging animals, and reflect upon the impermanence of all things.
Then one day a pilgrim offered to buy a bunch of withering roses, to give to a girlfriend who was about to discover the fleeting nature of relationships.
A month later the Monks received a letter from the girl, asking could she buy a dying skunk.
Social media and the smell from the man’s apartment quickly spread the word, and soon the Monks were getting so much mail that they took to waking the pilgrims at three, just to help them to open it.
The Monks reflected themselves, upon their vow of poverty, and decided yeah, right. They have opened a website, WiltedDaisy.com, where along with fading flora and fauna they sell frayed clothing, pre-dented cars and anti-botox, a cream that causes wrinkles.
Their slogan is “get it while you last”.
Other monasteries have quickly set up competing websites, offering everything from balding lions to fallen trees to bottled gout. Indeed, one is selling not dying but extinct items – for example, forty dollars buys you a dodo, though what you actually receive is an empty box and the opportunity to reflect upon the permanence of human gullibility.
So the Ephemeral Monks know that their success won’t last forever. But then, as they’ll be first to tell you, nothing does.