Do you think that you are the only one who can tell a story? That is just not true. I have a story to tell.
Joseph Campbell famously said "Myths are public dreams, and dreams are private myths." As powerful as myths are, they are not, at their core, true. The story that I have to share is something altogether more real. It is a true story. I have never told this story until now. I'm not in the storytelling business. I have other things to do.
My life has not always been a piece of cake. I have had my struggles. None more intimidating than the one I will tell you a story about now. There was a time, not long ago, when I came to face an obstacle in my life. Not an obstacle like when you walk on one side of a small tree only to find that the leash on your neck is connected to a hand on the other side of the small tree, thereby making forward progress impossible; an obstacle more like "something scary." I was facing this obstacle, not in the sense of sitting in front of it and looking at it, but in the sense of making a picture of it in my head and looking at it in my imagination. It was imaginary and scary. But I knew that it was coming soon.
Time passed. At last, the day that I feared arrived. It was here. The first thing I did was open my eyes. Where was I? I was on the floor in front of the couch, where I always sleep. Nothing new there. The very end of my nose had wedged underneath the fabric skirting around the bottom of the couch and was touching the cool metal brace that held up the cushions. It was cool, and I remember that it smelled like metal. I remember I had just been dreaming about chasing an enormous boomerang, and when I caught it, it was metal. I can't say for sure that those things were connected. I'll allow the experts to speculate at their leisure. What I can say for sure is that when I got up and stretched my legs, it sure felt nice. That's one of my favorite parts of waking up: I always stretch my legs by standing up real high. That's what it feels like, at least. I kind of arch my back and I imagine stretcccchhhhhhinnnnggggg my legs wayyyy down to the floor and my body rising wayyyyyy up towards the ceiling like I'm very tall. Since all my legs remain on the floor during this I suppose that I'm not actually growing any taller while it happens. It just feels like it. Still it's a nice stretch through the legs. It's not like I'm doing any yoga. That's ridiculous!
At that point I was standing up all the way. My nose was out from underneath the couch. Where was it now? It was pointed up, sniffing the air. Detecting. Yes, I'm a bit of a crime solver. If something is amiss at home, I can "sniff it out." Sometimes I make a joke about that: "Seems like something is wrong, I better sniff it out!" Always gets a laugh in my experience. The real funny thing about is it that it's literally true. I use my nose to paint a picture of the world around me. Scent is my palette, and my nose is the artist. I just sit back and enjoy the art. That morning, there was something very distinct in the air. It was trepidation. I was smelling my own trepidation. My own fear, my own ignorance, my own primitive and useless dread of the situation I faced. My own plight had its own scent. It permeated the room. And it was disgusting. I recoiled from what I myself was causing. How could this be? How could I, a modern being with enough self-awareness to realize exactly what was happening, still lack the self control necessary to moderate my own nerves? I was struck by own fallibility. By my own weakness. I lacked the constitution to overcome the challenge I faced. The smell of my own failure was in the air. But right at that moment, I realized that something else was in the air, too: the smell of breakfast.
It was Dave's Delectable Dinners brand chicken and wild rice flavor. Outstanding dog food. I don't remember what happened with whatever it was I was afraid of. I guess it wasn't really that important in the long run.
[Image by Jim Cooke]