The native knew what the rifle could do; he had seen it work, and now he was trying everything in his power to make it do that thing. He carefully twisted wads of grass, cuts of bark, and stuffed them into the chamber. He tried using stones, earth, a burning ember; he used incantations and interpretive dance; he prayed; he anointed the rifle with sacred dust, with purified oil.
The persistent native spared no effort or ingenuity, but it was all in vain; nothing would induce the rifle to utter its terrifying lightening and thunder, to emit the deadly magic which could slay from a distance; which could provide meat for his lodge, or cause his enemies to flee in terror.
The native might just as well devote his life to studying the rifle's inner workings, but nothing in his considerable experience of the world will bring him any closer to understanding how to unleash the machine's power. The simple mystery of gunpowder will forever be concealed in a reality separate from his.
I heard that story many years ago, and I sometimes feel that it is a metaphor for my own life,
as I stumble forward in darkness.