Tag Archives: inspirational

5 Books

 

If you were stranded on a deserted island what five books would you want to have with you. Knowing that you could be there for years or potentially the rest of your life. What would you want to read and why?

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

This book was published in 1937.  The image of Middle Earth, the fantasy land that was created by Tolkien in which the Hobbit is set, has always been my psychological sanctuary when times were hard. High school and university saw me visiting quite often. I had a very strong mental image in my head so I did not want to see the movie, sorry movies. I was afraid it would change how I saw my Middle Earth. I did see the movies recently and I was certainly not disappointed at all!

The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Believed to have been penned in the fifth century BC. This book was written by a brilliant strategist on how to fight a war. In its simplest terms, that’s what it was created for. But over the more than 2000 years, it has come to be recognized as a treatise of incredible insights that can be used throughout life, not just war. This is a book that truly makes you think, makes you wonder… What if?

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare

He was active, it is believed, from the late 1500s to the early 1600s.  Comedy, tragedy, love stories. This consummate storyteller could keep me entertained for years. Each time I reread one of his plays I find something more that I had missed in the previous readings. And he’s got a lot works…

The Rubyat by Omar Khyam

A Persian poet from 1100 A.D. what’s not to love?  My mother read this book to me when I was a child. She would read for a few moments and then we would talk. These are moments I cherish in my memory and why this book is so important to me. It is also a beautiful love story that breaches time.

A Thesaurus

Did you hear the one about the young dinosaur who wanted to grow up to be a thesaurus? OK that’s a very old one but it makes me laugh! I love words and I love to know other words for the same meaning. I can spend hours wandering through a book like this and that is the point. Besides if I can’t think of a word, this is the go-to place!

The whole concept of being lost on a deserted island is not all negative. I’ve spent many lovely vacations in faraway places with no electricity, flush toilets or waiters. And I loved it. But I was much younger and more tolerant. I now like running water, I like room service and I like swimming in water that I know I’m not sharing with a whole lot of scary creatures! I have great memories of lighting a fire on my own, (yes, I have done the two sticks and it worked, thank you very much!). I have slept beneath the stars and for the record it is not silent! These are wonderful memories and I’m so glad that I actually did them. But I am more mature these days and I take great solace in my creature comforts. I would like to think that I could still light my own fire . . . But I don’t want to.

 

In the back of my mind is a little place:  a deserted island and a bookshelf with five books on it. Books in which I can lose myself and bask in my own solitude.

What five books would you want with you on a deserted island?

Frozen in Time

Just for a moment,

They are frozen in time.

Their spirits have passed,

Their mark left in grime.

 

A quick sudden frost,

And footprints are left.

To mark someone’s passing,

Do not be bereft.

 

They simply walked by,

On a day in their life.

Mud took a snapshot,

A moment of strife.

 

Locked for a second,

And then frozen in place.

Captured in pictures,

For a moment of grace.

 

Time is immutable,

They tell me that’s true.

But I know the facts,

Truly I do.

 

Time is a moment,

A second in space.

It moves ever forward,

At its own leisure pace.

 

But it can be captured,

And kept for all time.

By the eye of a man,

And a woman of rhyme.

 

 

Once again I am inspired by a picture by Dan. He and his dog Maddie provide me with such pleasure on an ongoing basis. You can visit him at:  nofacilities.com.      You will never be disappointed!

The True Spirit

Mary was angry. Here it was two days before Christmas, she was in a town she didn’t know, a new job she didn’t like, she had no friends and no family close by, and some dirty bum had his hand out looking for money.  And on top of all that, he had the unmitigated gall to be smiling as if he was happy.

Mary wasn’t smiling.  In fact, she was absolutely miserable.  Christmas was just another day on the calendar, it had no real meaning.  People went into stores and spent a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for other people that the other people really didn’t want.  Christmas wasn’t even for the children. It was just another way to teach them about how money makes the world go ‘round.  If you had money, it was a good life.  If you did not then you starved and were miserable, and you should look like you were miserable.

Mary approached the man that she called a bum.  She was frustrated, she was angry, and she needed this person to explain to her how he could be so damn happy! Maybe he was on drugs or maybe he was crazy, but Mary didn’t think so.  Of course, she did drop a twenty-dollar bill into his tin can before she posed her question.

“Are you alright? You are sitting here on a cold sidewalk asking for money.  All around you is obscene wealth.  How can you sit there and smile when you have nothing and so many people around you are spending money like it is water and on frivolous things? You look like you need food and these people are buying toys for people who really don’t want them.  How can you sit there and smile? I’ve seen you everyday for the last week and you smile everyday, you wish people a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanza and I don’t understand how you can actually be happy.”

At this point Mary was almost in tears.  She felt so alone and so unloved that she felt jealous of this destitute individual.  She wanted to shake him to make him see what an awful place the world was but she didn’t. What she did do was pause for a breath and what she saw then took that breath away.

Just a moment before she had been looking at a dirty bum and now, he had taken on a dignity that belied her original perception.  He sat up straighter and his smile became wider.  Even his eyes seemed to twinkle with a secret knowledge. There was a beauty to his face that she had not noticed before. His voice, when he spoke, was strong and melodic.  The words he spoke were the truth.

“But I have everything.  Someone gave me a coat to keep me warm.  He gave me the gift of warmth. People stop and give me their spare change, a cup of coffee, or a sandwich. A small child gave me a penny.  A penny to a small child is like a million dollars to a billionaire. A beautiful woman gave me her scarf to warm my neck.  An old man gave me a warm pair of gloves.  All I have to offer them in return is my smile and my best wishes.  Some people are embarrassed and hurry on but others take it in the spirit in which it is given. Some people give of themselves, and that is what makes me the wealthiest of people.”

Mary thought about what this person had just said to her.  It was starting to make sense.  The importance of the season was not the gift; it was not the thought of the gift. That was all meaningless.  What was important was the giving of one’s self willingly.

The next day Mary went into work.  She felt a little lighter, a little happier.  She looked around her with a new perspective: people were giving of them selves; the gifts they were giving were simply an extension of their spirit.  Sometimes the gifts were expensive, sometimes the gifts cost only pennies and sometimes it was only a word and a hug.  But these people were giving, Mary saw that now.  And Mary started giving as well.

It was Christmas Eve now and Mary wanted to share with the homeless man what she had learned.  She stopped at the bank and took out one hundred dollars.  She placed the money in an envelope and tucked that into the pocket of her coat.  With a smile on her face, she went looking for the homeless man.

But he wasn’t there. Mary walked up and down the street looking for him.  She asked shop keepers if they had seen him but everyone was too busy and said they didn’t remember.  So, Mary continued on her walk home.  She was sad now that she couldn’t share with the man who had taught her so much.  She wondered where he had gone and what he was doing for Christmas.

Just two blocks before Mary reached her apartment building was a small church.  Mary had seen the structure before but had never ventured in.  Today her feet took her over the threshold and into the church.  She sat quietly in one of the back pews and looked up into the beautiful stained-glass windows.  She felt at peace.  As her eyes wandered over the beautiful paintings, a figure seemed to stand out:   it was of man who was seated on the ground and his hand was outstretched as if beckoning.  Her eyes widened in recognition and then she shook her head, it was not possible.

As Mary turned over in bed that night, she replayed in her head what she had learned and she smiled.  She had left the envelope with the money in the church; she knew it was the right thing to do. Never again would she forget just how valuable it is to interact with other people.  Giving of one’s self is as simple as smiling.  He had taught her that.

 

The end

 

 

The Present

The little boy woke that morning,

Santa had been and gone.

The rest of the house was starting to stir,

It wouldn’t be too long.

 

A steaming mug of lovely cocoa,

Warmed his chilly hands.

Anticipation tickled up his smile,

As he thought of other lands.

 

He thought of all the children,

Scattered around the earth.

Then thought of all his presents,

He wondered at their worth.

 

And in that moment, he understood,

What everyone should know.

Could he share this precious gift?

In words he could bestow?

 

Beneath the tree was a single gift,

A box with tattered wrapping.

And inside a single word,

That had the whole world clapping.

 

Do you choose to speak a word?

A single word to heal.

If we could say it all together,

And with honest zeal.

 

The present that we all do need,

The one that we must share,

Is one of love and peace and kindness,

To show we truly care.

 

Marvin: The Forgotten Elf

“Now you take care of your little brother and I’ll be right over there.”

Odelia was used to taking care of her brother for short periods.  After all she was nine years old and quite mature for her age.  Billy was only three and he needed a lot of taking care of.  They were standing in line waiting for their turn. Actually, Billy was strapped into a stroller and for the moment he was quite serene.  However, Odelia knew it would probably be 15 or 20 minutes before it was their turn. A few moments later it began. Like most boys his age Billy didn’t like to wait so he started to squirm and then to whine.

“I don’t wanna wait!”

Odelia had been waiting for this moment and hoping it would take a little longer.  She looked over at her mother but she was still deep in conversation with a sales clerk.

“Okay Billy, I’m going to tell you a secret.” That always got a child’s attention. “But you can’t tell anyone else, ever!”

As expected, the young boy stopped squirming and looked at his sister with rapt anticipation.

“Okay.” He said quietly.

“This happened a very long time ago and nobody knows all the details but this much we know for sure.”

Odelia was a gifted storyteller and she knew her brother very well.  His eyes were glued to her face and he hadn’t moved an inch.  So, she continued with her story. The tale she told was about an elf.

One of Santa’s elves was called Marvin.  He was young and as it so often is with the young, he seemed forgetful.  The other elves tried to instil in him the importance of what they were doing in Santa’s workshop but Marvin was too interested in playing with the reindeer and investigating how some of the toys worked.  Unfortunately, he also had a knack for breaking things.  Soon the other elves pushed Marvin aside and tried to forget about him.  When Santa heard about the troubles, he spoke to Marvin but it didn’t seem to make any difference to the young elf. However, what we think isn’t always what is.

It seems that Marvin wasn’t trying to break things he was just trying to understand how they worked.  He was only trying to help.  When Santa heard this, he decided to give Marvin another chance. He was told that if he broke one more toy he would be banned from the workshop.

Over the next few weeks everything went smoothly.  The toys were being assembled and made ready to be shipped.  Marvin did everything he was asked and nothing that he was not.  Eventually everyone forgot about him.  Now as it often happens, when you’re not watching, trouble will find you.

There was one particular toy that was new to the workshop.  It had bells, and whistles and it had an engine.  Usually that pretty much guaranteed that the children would fall in love with it.  Unfortunately, this toy kept breaking down.  First the wheels were falling off when the Packers tried to wrap it up. Then the steering wheel wouldn’t work when it was tested prior to packaging.  It even started falling apart on the line when nobody was looking.  People started wondering if Marvin was the culprit but nobody could find him.

After a few days it was decided that the toy would be put aside until further investigation could be done.  Obviously, there was something wrong and there was no time to correct it.  Everyone was working to a deadline that could not be shifted.  And still, no one could find Marvin.

The night before the deadline the last package was wrapped and put in place for shipment.  Everyone congratulated themselves on the fine work they had done this year.  There had only been one glitch and he seemed to have taken himself off the line.  No one thought about him, no one worried about where he was or what he was doing.  That was their mistake.

What the others did not understand was that Marvin was different.  He wasn’t one to blindly follow the rules.  He wanted to understand why the rules were in place.  The only way something could be improved upon was to first know its nature.  Marvin wasn’t trying to break things he was trying to understand how they worked.  If you know how something works you can make sure it doesn’t break down.

When the others had taken the cars that kept breaking down and put them in another room Marvin had gone to see if he could fix them.  In the days and weeks that no one missed him, Marvin had corrected every single issue in every single car.  He had also wrapped them and prepared them for shipment.  The others were very surprised when he presented them with what they thought were broken vehicles.

When Santa heard what Marvin had done, he called him into his office and sat him down.  What happened next is not known.  But after a few minutes, Marvin exited with a smile on his face and a lift in his step.  Obviously, he had been vindicated.  From that day forward Marvin had a new job.  It was his responsibility to test each and every item that passed through the line to ensure that it was not easily broken.  It was a task that Marvin took to easily.  After all, if it could be broken, he would find a way to break it.

“Are you next young fella?”

With everyone’s attention now on them Odelia quickly unstrapped her brother. An oversized man dressed as an elf lifted Billy on to the knee of Santa Claus and stepped back.

Billy looked into the face of the big fat man in the red suit and thought about what he had just learned.

“Ho ho ho!  Little man what do you want for Christmas?”

Billy leaned close to Santa to whisper in his ear.

“You were naughty Santa.  You should have been nicer to Marvin.”

With that Billy jumped off Santa’s knee and ran to his sister. He never looked back and he never forgot his lesson.  Did you?

The End

 

 

The Christmas Gift

Well, ‘tis the season! And I’m going to give you my Christmas gift early. This month on each Sunday I will post one of my Christmas stories. Those of you who do not celebrate Christmas please accept this in the spirit in which I give it as we all celebrate each other at this wonderous time of year.

 

These stories will be familiar to many of you but there are those, I’m sure, that have never read them. I hope you enjoy.

Jeremy was bereft. His feet were cold and he felt the sniffles coming on. And yet here he was on the evening of December 24 standing in a freezing parking lot looking at dying trees.  Why? Because his family insisted. He desperately wanted to tell the world to piss off and just go and get drunk in some dive bar.

He hadn’t always been like this. He used to love Christmas. But 11 months and 13 days ago everything changed. The woman who completed him, who made him laugh and more importantly who laughed at his jokes, died. Mattie loved Christmas.  She loved life. She loved him. Until some two bit gangsta’ wanna-be thought it would be fun to drag race on a snow-covered icy street. They said she died instantly. But he didn’t. Jeremy wanted to die or to kill, but instead he lived. He felt the tiny box in his pocket. He had planned to ask her that night. That’s why she was out. They were going to meet.

It had been a horrible few months but everyone seemed to have moved on. Except for Jeremy. Here he was standing in the cold with instructions to buy a lovely full tree for Christmas.  He shook his head, was about to turn around and leave when he heard an odd sound.

He looked around the parking lot but he didn’t see anyone. The sound was low, almost frantic. It was a scratching noise with a hiccup and a sigh. It intrigued him. He wanted to know what was making that sound. Jeremy took a step forward and the sound changed. It was a whine now and a huffing noise. It didn’t sound human and yet it didn’t sound animal either.

A back-firing car startled him.  He felt silly. It was probably just the wind stirring up some garbage. Jeremy shrugged his shoulders; he knew he needed to get on with his life. He could never forget her but maybe he should put her where she needed to be:  deep in his heart where she could be protected, her memory safe.  He would start by taking an active roll in this evening’s activities.

In that moment something else happened.  Jeremy seemed to swim up from the abyss of grief he had been living in for almost a year.  His eyes truly opened. He almost smiled. He was looking for a tree. Now there were tall ones and fat ones and ones that looked a little sad. But he couldn’t seem to find one that he thought needed a home with his family. And then something fell on his foot. It wasn’t very heavy, it was very small and it coughed.

Jeremy peered down at his feet trying to see what this thing was.  There wasn’t a great deal of light but he was pretty sure that he saw it move. Without thinking he reached down and scooped up the small ball of something.

The next thing that happened was unexpected. But perhaps given the day, appropriate.  With the small black bundle at eye level Jeremy poked it. It poked back! And then it opened its mouth and emitted a rather large meow. It was a kitten. It was a small, black, cold, abandoned kitten. It curled itself into a ball and started to purr. Jeremy smiled for the first time in almost a year. He tucked the sleeping bundle into his pocket and bought the tree it had been hiding under.

He got his tree. He didn’t haggle the price, he just paid it and chuckled. He was taking home more than a tree.  He had found the Spirit of Christmas hiding in the small body of a kitten under a tree.

 

The end

Through The Eyes of a Stranger

 

What do you see when you look at me?

Do you see the person I’m trying to be?

Do you see the anger, the angst and the rage?

Or perhaps the compassion, the will to engage.

 

What do you see when you look out at life?

Do you see the hate, the fury, the strife?

Or do you see love, compassion and joy,

The innocence of children, a girl and a boy?

 

I look through eyes that are filled with hope,

With trust and belief, I know we can cope.

All it will take is for strangers to be friends,

And that will be the moment animosity ends.

 

Say What?

I speak English. I can say a smattering of  words in other languages but I am only fluent in one. And I must say I do enjoy this language. I enjoy it’s inefficiency, I enjoy it’s inexactitude. Let’s face it, it’s a bloody difficult language to learn. ‘We park on a driveway and we drive on a parkway’. Does that even make sense? We can use 10 words to say two and we can embellish like a master painter. It’s fun!

I admire people who come to this country with little or no English and they take the time and effort to speak well. I have met people that I did not know were not native born who spoke this language fluently. That impressed me. I think people who grow up here can be lazy. Oh hell, we can all be lazy! We slide into slang and we short form everything. And the double meanings can be hilarious. For example: ‘He wound a bandage around the wound’. And that’s not confusing?

I love to play with words. They are my sandbox. I was taught the rules on how to form a sentence, form a paragraph at a young age. Now, in some cases,  all of that goes out the window with me waving goodbye, jubilantly. Because sometimes the rules need to be broken. I’m not bending, I’m trashing.

While I definitely want to get my meaning across, I am also concerned with rhythm, with cadence. There is almost a musicality to my work. And I am not musically inclined, not by a long shot. But I hear these poems and stories in my head and they tell me where they want to go. Sometimes I go along for the ride and sometimes I fight them tooth and nail. I rarely win.

Now I know this makes me sound like a crazy woman. And maybe I am.(Are any of us actually sane? What is sane? Who decides? Sorry, tiny tangent, back on track.) I don’t know how my mind works but I know it spends a great deal of time moving words around. When I have a focus, an idea, my words tend to eddy around it like an embrace, a hug. I’ve written poems in 15 or 20 minutes simply because everything gelled quickly. Some of my best poems are written in far less time than would be expected. Other words need to percolate for a while. And then others sit for months, years and they won’t gel. And then one day everything falls into place.

Communication is the cornerstone of our species, of all species. Sometimes it is done well and unambiguously, other times it can cause wars. But we need more than just utilitarian communication. We need to sing. We need to reach for the stars with words and paint the planet with our prose. We need to plumb the depths of our psyche with expressions of our feelings, our wants and our desires.  We need to share our words. Together.

OLi’s Tale

Some stories begin at the beginning. That is the natural way of things. But some stories begin before the beginning. And that can be the most interesting of tales.

 

Lizzy had just moved to New York City; she had needed a change and she thought she could find anonymity here. She wanted to wander silently through the crowds and soak up the beauty that was New York but she didn’t want anyone to rely on her or for her to rely on anyone else. Maybe just for a little while. And that is how Lizzy found herself in a small art shop buying a few supplies. She like to sketch what she saw but she didn’t have what she needed.  And of course, she needed something to carry all the supplies she would use. The shop offered perfectly sized canvas bags. It was great and it was, well, boring. But the shopkeeper had a plan. She supplied the paints so anyone could paint what they wanted onto the bag. Lizzy loved the thought but had no idea what to paint. So, she looked around the room and saw a book with a fierce picture of a dragon on the front and the words “MYSTICAL CREATURES”. She thought the idea of a dragon was great but he had to be a little less menacing so she put her head down and started to paint. Eventually she was happy with what she had done and she was just finishing off the tail when a small child approached her cautiously.

“I think he would like to have a purple ribbon around his tail.”

Startled, Lizzy looked up and then immediately looked down. After all, the voice had come from almost below the table from a beautiful little girl dressed in purple.

“I like your dragon but I think he needs a purple ribbon.”

The voice spoke with the confidence of innocence. Lizzy smiled and answered her.

“I agree.  And what is your name?”

“Olivia,” she said. And then with a sudden burst of shyness, she turned and ran from the store, her father in tow. He smiled a tired smile at Lizzy and followed his daughter.

Lizzy grinned. She wanted to credit the little girl with giving her the idea so she started to print her name on the ribbon. O L and then she thought maybe she shouldn’t because she didn’t have permission. She wondered what to do. And then a thought came to her. She already painted an O and an L and she would add an I but in lowercase to acknowledge the small child. And OLi was born.

*******************************************

In a time very long ago and in a place very far away, lived a tribe of dragons and a tribe of people.  The dragons lived on top of a mountain while the people lived in the valley far below. It was an uneasy truce but it had lasted for hundreds of years. And it was expected to last for hundreds more.

But what is expected and what actually happens is very often the exact opposite. In a nest on the edge of the cliff were several eggs. They were quite large. One of them was restless. It seemed to shake and roll about the nest. It really was disturbing the other eggs. Eventually the egg rolled to the edge of the nest and over it. At that point gravity took over and the egg began to roll down the mountain. Now dragons’ eggs are quite strong, they are tough creatures. But it was a very long way down the mountain. There were fields and forests and streams that had to be navigated and it all seemed to happened as if by magic. No harm came to the egg. In time it reached the valley and it started to slow down. Eventually it came to rest at the edge of a red barn at the outer edge of a farm. It wasn’t there very long before a young boy named Christian found it.

Now, Christian had never seen a dragon before but he knew exactly what the egg was. He had grown up learning about the mystical beasts.  They had been taught that they were fierce warriors and would eat little children if they misbehaved. Christian believed they were really just tall tales to keep the children from being naughty. The dragons had never ventured into the valley as long as he had been alive. But there were stories . . . .

Christian looked at the very large egg at his feet. He wondered what to do about it. He knew he couldn’t tell his Father because of course he would just destroy it. As he was looking intently at his latest dilemma, he noticed it start to shiver. It was cold. Without thinking Christian picked it up and took it into the barn.  At the very least he would keep it warm until he decided what to do. It was an old barn that was rarely used but it still had remnants of hay and it was protection from the wind. The egg would be safe here. Christian made a little hollow in a bale of hay and placed the egg in it.  He then wrapped an old blanket around it. He also wanted to make sure no one else could find it. Goodness only knows what would happen if he was found harbouring a dragon! It didn’t bear thinking about.

As he was eating dinner that night Christian was distracted. What did baby dragons eat? The tales never told you that. But he was enjoying his mashed potatoes and peas and he wondered if maybe he would just try to feed it whatever he was having for dinner. He figured he could sneak something into the barn. But of course, it all depended on when the egg hatched. That was something he was looking forward to.

Several days went by and Christian was very diligent about making sure he was in the barn as many times as possible. He found it gave him great pleasure to hold the egg and feel the life inside. It seemed to move, gently at first and then more vigorously. It was also warm, calm under his hand. And then one day it happened. It cracked. Christian wasn’t in the barn but he noticed it as soon as he did come in and he sat down on his hands and knees, face inches from the shell and watched.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the crack started to get bigger. Eventually a piece fell off and Christian looked in wonder and saw an eye. It blinked. He almost couldn’t contain his joy. But he knew that too much excitement might scare the new life so he clapped one hand over his mouth and hugged himself with the other. For a while nothing seemed to happen and then everything happened. A little face poked its way through the shell and shook furiously. A shoulder showed and then two small hands. Ah! Quietly whispered Christian… and then, Wings! Before too long the shell was gone. Or rather bits of it were strewn around a very small, miniature dragon.

Barely daring to breathe Christian put his hands out to the small creature in a gesture of friendship. The tiny dragon burped. Christian smiled. And then it made a noise that sounded a little like “Olly”! It really wasn’t much more than a squeak but now Christian knew his name. He put his hand on the forehead of the small creature and smiled. In return he seemed to purr and when he put his head in Christian’s hands, a friendship was born.

Christian knew he had to keep his young charge out of sight of the others. He was after all a dragon, albeit a very small one. They developed a routine that seemed to work for both of them. First thing in the morning Christian would arrive with fruit and nuts which the young dragon seemed to love. They would play for a while and Christian did bear a few scars from OLi’s teeth but he didn’t mind. The dragon was fed again after Christian’s dinner. Basically, whatever Christian ate, so did OLi. It was interesting to discover that the young dragon’s favourite food, was mashed potatoes.

One day Christian noticed that his little sister had put ribbons on her dolls. They looked pretty and helped her identify which one was which. So, without thinking he pinched one. It was a beautiful purple and he thought it might look good on OLi’s tail.  OLi didn’t agree. If you weren’t a young dragon snapping at a ribbon that is now dangling from your tail, you might find the whole situation quite funny. Christian did. OLi performed some quite amazing aerobatics trying to get away from this purple thing and from another’s perspective it was quite spectacular. Maybe he was learning something. When he finally came down to the ground, he sniffed at this purple thing hanging from his tail and he seemed to have a change of heart. This was his.

Unfortunately, time does not stand still. Even for young boys and their young friends. OLi was growing. He had learned to fly all by himself and while his takeoff wasn’t the best, he was pretty good in the air. He also hasn’t figured out the fine art of fire breathing, which, given that there was a lot of hay around, that was a good thing.  He rarely left the barn but it was pretty big so that was OK. Something else Christian noticed: there were no barn mice or rats. He thought he probably shouldn’t think too hard about it. OLi was in this barn all by himself a lot and he never seemed to be hungry.

The days and nights blurred for Christian. He loved his new friend desperately but he also knew that the valley was no place for a dragon. OLi was becoming quite big, although nowhere near as big as a full-grown dragon he was still becoming more than Christian shoulders could handle. It was time. The young boy had a plan. He would tell his family he was going to stay with a friend for a few days and he and his dragon would climb the mountain. OLi would go home.

It took it several days but Christian and OLi made it to the summit of the mountain. Christian dared not go over the top but he encouraged his young friend to seek his own kind. It’s almost as if the dragon didn’t want to leave. He butted his head into Christian’s arm and wrapped his wings around his hands, his version of an embrace. But he was intrigued by the sounds coming from the top of the mountain and the glimpses he could see of the full-grown dragons. Eventually he did go. And Christian stumbled down the mountain barely able to see with the tears in his eyes. He knew he had done the right thing and he also knew that he would never forget his friend.

As the years went by, Christian often thought of OLi. He wondered if he had been accepted by his tribe and how big he had grown. He would look up towards the mountain top and think of his friend looking back. He never forgot.

Over time memories change. Truths become myths and myths often distort the truth.  People remembered that once upon a time there were dragons. But the general belief was that they had died or left. No one had seen one in so very long. Except of course for Christian but had he kept his secret carefully hidden. The valley grew prosperous. People had time to indulge. And with that indulgence came complacency. Never a good combination. Young men started to wonder about the dragons that no longer existed. Eventually they wondered too much and decided that they would find out for themselves. They decided to climb the mountain. They didn’t make any preparations because they didn’t think there was anything dangerous at the top. They were wrong.

Seven young men in their prime left the valley that morning. No one knows for sure what happened because the four that made it back three days later were so filled with terror that they would not speak of it. But there was a growing concern that the myths were true. A gloom entered the valley. People looked to the skies more often and with trepidation. The air seemed to quiver with anticipation and it wasn’t a good kind.

Christian looked at the pitchfork in his hand. What was he thinking? How could you fight off angry, fire breathing dragons with a pitchfork? The minutes ticked by. He ran a hand over his eyes, shaking his head. He didn’t understand why it hadn’t happened. They had heard the dragons coming. The sky was black with them and red.  Fire. The children ran to the wells to get buckets of water. The adults ran for tools, weapons, anything to protect themselves. But at the last minute one dragon had broken free. He came straight at Christian’s farm. When the others turned to follow him, he took a stand. He breathed fire on his own kind! He protected Christian’s farm, his family!  Why?

The other dragons took flight. Perhaps they had grown tired of their sport and returned to the mountain. All except one. The one that had protected Christian landed in his field and stood there. He wasn’t menacing. He looked almost sad. Could it be? Is it at all possible? Christian put down his pitchfork and moved slowly towards the dragon. He heard the gasps behind him but he ignored them.

“OLi?”  He whispered, “Is it you?”

The dragon put his big head down just the way he had when he was small.  He used to invite Christian to rub his forehead. And now he did it again.

“OLi!”  Christian cried and he ran to his dear friend. It had been so long but he had never forgotten. And apparently neither had OLi. The dragon wrapped his huge wings around his friend in such a tender embrace that people wept. For a few moments they held each other. Christian felt something warm touch his hand and he instinctively grasped it.  Then OLi backed slowly away and with one more nod he took to the sky.  He glanced back just once and then was gone.

Tears streamed down Christian’s face.  “Goodbye my friend,” he whispered to the wind. He glanced down at his clenched fist and slowly opened it. There nestled gently in the palm of his hand was a faded and slightly scorched purple ribbon.

To Plan or Not To Plan

This is a Blast from my Past. I still think it holds true even today. I hope you enjoy it. Previously posted on March 11, 2018.

A friend of mine made a comment the other day that I have been pondering ever since I heard it. He said that ‘a bad plan was better than no plan’.  Now he is a military man so perhaps in that context it might be true.   An intelligent person can always modify a plan on the fly. Thereby changing a bad plan into a good plan.  But using the same rationale: couldn’t one create a plan, on the move, to suit the circumstances of the moment?

My first reaction was that I don’t have a plan. Or rather I make things up as I go along. I like spontaneity and the titillation of not knowing what’s coming next. But then isn’t that idea just a very loose plan?  I’ve been talking myself in circles. On one hand having no plan can leave one floundering with no idea, no concept of how to move forward. On the other hand having no plan could mean that you’re open to create the circumstances you wish while not being constrained by any artificial restraints of your ‘plan’.  Are you confused yet? I am.

Some people enjoy the regimentation of everything being planned to the minutia. Others, myself included, love the instability and challenges that can creep up when you’re not too tightly organized. When I was traveling I made sure I had a plan for getting to my destination and I was aware of my options once I was there but I liked to make any decisions when I opened my eyes in the morning. I liked to be able to change my plans at a second’s notice. I liked the challenge of not knowing what’s around the corner and then reacting to it.

Now isn’t that what life is all about? I am sure my parents had plans for me as a child and worked towards my being a competent adult. I think they did their job well. I of course may be biased in that! But I am a thinking adult. I make my own decisions and I’m capable of reacting to the world around me. I enjoy that aspect. Someone once said that everyone should do one thing a day that terrifies them. I like that idea. I might not do it everyday but I do not shy away from that which frightens me. Except for snakes. Oh my good heavens I am so shying away!!!

Whatever kind of person you are, planner, non-planner or a combination of the two, I think we all have the same goal:  to enjoy life, you’ve only got one!