A Forgotten Dream
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a brilliant man. He was a philosopher and poet. His favorite philosopher was Emmanuel Kant. He went all the way to Germany to meet him. Sadly, Coleriedge did not write as much as he could have. He was very weak and sick. He suffered from a disease called neuralgia. He had to take a medicine called laudanum. It was highly addictive. It was made from opium diluted in alcohol. The medicine put him in a stupor and made him very lethargic.
One day, he had a beautiful dream. It was mid-afternoon and he had drifted off to sleep. He dreamt a poem about a far away land. He composed the entire poem in his sleep. It was about a beautiful palace in a place called Xanadu. He saw dome of ice full of caves and caverns. When he awoke, the poem was complete and he began to write. Miraculously, he remembered the whole poem. It was such a vivid and moving dream that he remembered the whole poem. He didn’t have to think. He didn’t have to change a word. The poem just wrote itself.
Suddenly, he heard a knock. Someone had come to the door. The poet got up to answer the door. The visitor had some urgent news. Some very pressing matter had come up. The visitor could not be put off. Very urgent business had to be attended to.
“Good day to you, Mr. Coleridge,” said the visitor. “I’m sorry to disturb you.”
“What can I do for you?” the poet asked.
“I’m afraid it’s quite urgent,” the visitor explained. “You’re overdrawn at the bank.”
“You’re joking!” the poet exclaimed. “You mean I’m in debt.”
“I’m afraid so, sir.”
“Can’t I sort it out later?” the poet demanded.
“I’m afraid not, sir,” the visitor replied. “It’s quite a serious matter.”
“Oh very well,” the poet said, issuing a sigh. “Will it take long?”
“An hour or two at most, sir.”
“I’ll be right with you,” the poet said, getting his coat.
Coleridge fetched his coat and accompanied the man. He was gone for the space of three hours. When he returned, he resumed his seat at the writing table. He grabbed his writing quill and began to write. Unfortunately, he could only remember a few more lines. The rest of the poem was gone from his memory. He decided not to add anything. The poem was perfect as it was. He wanted his vision to remain pure. Many people consider “Kubla Khan” his best poem.
Coleridge attended many parties. He made many marvelous speeches. People came from all over to see him. He was a gregarious man full of charisma. He was a wonderful talker and knew how to hold people’s attention. Sadly, he did not write much. He was a better talker than writer. He had a great following. People came from as far away as America to hear him speak.
A Hard Nut to Crack
A squirrel found an acorn. It had a hard shell. Try as he might, he couldn’t crack it. It was just too tough. He pondered over the problem. He thought and thought about it. He tried stepping on it, but it didn’t work. He tried dropping a rock on it, but the rock cracked. He even tried dropping it from a cliff., but it just bounced. He needed help. He needed an expert opinion, so he consulted a nutcracker.
“Have you tried using a nutcracker?” asked the nutcracker.
“Yes,” said the squirrel, “but it didn’t work.”
“Well, why did you come to me?” asked the nutcracker.
“Because it’s a hard nut to crack,” explained the squirrel.
“That’s a good expression,” said the nutcracker.
“What expression?” asked the squirrel.
“It’s a hard nut to crack,” the nutcracker replied. “That’s what I say when I have a problem. That’s a hard nut to crack.”
The nutcracker passed the squirrel a hammer. The squirrel hammered away at the nut until the hammer broke. The nutcracker passed him a saw. He started sawing the nut. Then the nutcracker passed him a drill and he drilled the nut. The drill got very hot, but there was no hole.
“Oh nuts!” cried the nutcracker. “It’s just too darn tough.”
“It’s a hard nut to crack alright,” said the squirrel. “I’m going nuts.”
“Nuts to this,” said the nutcracker. “We’re wasting our time.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said the squirrel.
“Why don’t you just find another nut?” asked the nutcracker.
“Are you nuts?” asked the squirrel. “Do you know how much trouble I went through to find you?”
“I’m not talking about me!” the nutcracker exclaimed, angrily. “I’m talking about the nut, you nut!”
“But I’ve invested a lot of time in this nut,” said the squirrel. “I don’t want to give up on it.”
“But it’s a hard nut to crack,” the nutcracker advised.
“But I should learn to solve problems,” the squirrel insisted. “After all, there will be other nuts to crack.”
“You’re right,” the nutcracker agreed. “We shouldn’t give up so easily.”
“I know,” said the squirrel. “Why don’t we roast the nuts? It might make them softer.”
The squirrel and the nutcracker sat by the fire. The roasted the chestnut all over. Soon it became soft and brittle. The shell cracked. The squirrel broke it open. He munched on the nut inside. It was soft and chewy. It was sweet and delicious. They found some other nuts. They were hard nuts to crack too. They took a crack at cracking them. They nearly went nuts trying to open them. They cracked open walnuts, chestnuts and hazelnuts. They had finally cracked it. Perseverance is the key.
A Light in the Dark
A fairy was flying beneath the light of the moon. She loved the full moon. It was so bright. It made her job so much easier. It helped her to see where to sprinkle her fairy dust. She didn’t have to squint in the dark. She didn’t need a lamp. She could see clearly who needed her fairy dust. But then the light went out. She had flown into a dense dark forest.
There was an old couple living in the forest. The light had gone out of their lives. The forest was dark in their neck of the woods. There were too many trees to let the light through. They couldn’t even see the face of the Man in the Moon. Not even the full moon could make it bright enough to see at night. Not even sunshine could bring any sunshine into their lives. The old couple was very despondent. They had no sunlight in their lives. They did not even have any moonlight in their lives. All around was darkness.
“I’m so miserable, Hector,” said Mrs. Crow.
“Me too Martha,” said Mr. Crow.
“What are we going to do?” asked the old crow.
“I’m going to start eating the leaves,” said Mrs. Crow. “There are too many as it is.”
“But you might kill the trees,” Mr. Crow protested. “Where would the animals sleep then?”
“They sleep too much anyway,” said Mrs. Crow. “It’s just too dark all the time. That’s why they’re always so sleepy.”
The fairy listened to them talk. She could see their unhappiness. She knew they needed her help. She knew all they needed was a bit of her fairy dust. The fairy swung her wand around and around. Soon a powerful wind whipped up. The wind sucked all the fairy dust out of her pouch. Around and around the dust blew. Then the wind died down. When the wind stopped, it started raining fairy dust everywhere. The ground was soon covered with a layer of fairy dust.
Some of the dust landed on some fleas. They didn’t like it very much. They started dusting themselves off, but it was no use. Suddenly, the fleas felt hot. It was like their bottoms were on fire. When they looked at their bottoms. They could see they were red hot. Their bottoms were glowing. They tried blowing on their bottoms, but that only fanned the flames. Soon their bottoms were glowing like a bright light.
“What’s that?” asked Mrs. Fleabrain.
“I’m not sure,” said Mr. Fleabrain.
“Have you got the hots for me?” asked Mrs. Fleabrain.
“You must be kidding,” said the husband.
When the dust settled, the fleas realized they weren’t fleas anymore. They were flies, full-grown flies. In fact, they were fireflies. When the news got around, they started glowing with pride.
“Look Martha,” said Mr. Crow. “Look at those flies. They’re all on fire!”
“I can see that,” said. Mrs. Crow. “Why it’s a miracle!”
“We have seen the light!” Mr. Crow declared.
“At last, we have some light in our lives,” said Mrs. Crow.
Things were never the same after that. Everyone was jubilant. The animals were rejoicing and celebrating. Hope had returned to the forest. Everyone was feeling happy and glad. People started enjoying their work again. In fact, it wasn’t like work anymore. Work was more like play. Everyone could see much better. The light made their lives richer and happier.
All His Dreams Came True
Once there was a mountaineer. He lived at the foot of a great mountain. Each morning he would rise early. The mountain would call out to him. The wind would beckon him. He could hear the whispering pines. His ears could discern the sound of the babbling brook. He could even hear the rustling leaves. All were beckoning him. All were bidding him to rise early.
He would look up at the mountain. He would stretch and yawn. Then he would begin his climb. Slowly he would clamber from ledge to ledge. He would cross rope bridges, and traverse narrow ledges. He would hang from mountain crags. There was nothing to fear. For him, it was child’s play to hang from a great height over the village below.
It would be midday before he would reach the summit. There he would sit for a minute to survey the world below. He could see the farms stretching as far as the eye could see. He could see far off villages and distant plains. The villages were tucked away in mountain valleys and looked like pearls inside oyster shells.
Then the old man would rise. He would go to the wishing rock. This is why he came. It was part of his daily pilgrimage. Here he would come to make a wish. The rock was like an arch. It was leaning against a crag. First, he would make a wish. Then he would pass through the portal. He always made the circuit three times. Then he would sit down. He would close his eyes and wait. And there before his very eyes, a fairy would appear.
“What is your wish?” the fairy asked one day.
“I wish I had a wife,” the mountaineer declared.
“Why do you want a wife?” asked the fairy.
“So I can have children,” the old man replied.
“Why do you want children?” asked the fairy.
“So I can have company,” the old man replied.
“And why do you want company?”
“So I won’t have to make any more wishes.”
“I know what you really wish for,” said the fairy. “You wish you had everything you waned, so you wouldn’t have to make any more wishes.”
“That’s very true,” said the old man. “How did you know?”
“Because my wish is the same,” said the fairy. “I hope all your wishes come true, so I don’t have to grant you any more wishes. I’m tired of granting your wishes all the time.”
“I’m tired of wishing, fairy,” said the old man. “Please make my wishes come true once and for all.”
“Just think,” said the fairy. “You’ll never have to climb this mountain again.”
“That’s my first wish,” said the old man.
“Well, I’ll grant you your wish,” said the fairy. “And you can have your bride, but those are your last wishes, is that clear?”
The mountaineer’s wishes did come true. He was overjoyed. He got everything he could ever wish for. There was no need to wish for anything more. His bride was lovely. She soon bore him children. He had nine beautiful children. His children gave him eighty-one beautiful grandchildren. As it happened, all the children and grandchildren wanted dogs. The old man was never lonely again. It turns out that wishes really do come true.
“Cockadoodledoo!” cried the rooster. It was early in the morn. The sun was up and so were the early risers. The farmer poked his head out the window. The air was fresh. He took in as much fresh air as he could. He breathed deeply. He could see the hen sitting on her brood. She appeared to be brooding. She wasn’t in a very good mood at all. In fact, she was downright moody. Anytime anyone came near, she would cluck angrily and peck at them with her beak.
Just then she hatched a plan. The plan was to hatch some chicks. She decided to keep them as warm as she could. One of the eggs started to move. She could hear a pecking sound. Just then, the egg started to crack. The egg hatched and out jumped a little chick.
It was a cool spring morning. Frost was still on the ground. The little chick began to breathe. You could even see his breath. His breath filled the air. It settled on the morning frost. It spread across the yard. Soon a mist began to form on the ground. It was the most magical mystical mist anyone had ever known. It spread like quicksilver. There was mist everywhere. No one could have missed the mist.
“Come and see this Helen,” called the farmer.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said his wife.
“Have you ever seen mist so silvery?” he asked.
“Never in my life,” said his wife. “Where did it some from?”
“That little chick,” said the farmer. “Can’t you see his breath? A mist is forming from his breath.”
“Look Jack!” Helen exclaimed.
“What is it?” asked Jack.
“Flowers,” she observed. “There are flowers growing in the mist.”
“It’s magical,” said Jack.
“What should we call them?”
“How about baby’s breath?”
“Why that’s perfect,” he declared.
Each spring, a hen gave birth to a brood of chicks. And each spring, a hen would hatch a plan. The plan was to hatch some chicks. One of the chicks would breathe deeply. You could see its breath. Its breath would become a mist. A mist would form on the ground. Soon flowers would appear in the mist. The flowers would grow in the silvery mist. The flowers were as white as a bride’s dress.
Princes would pick the flowers for their brides. The brides would put the flowers in their hair. The flowers would match their dressers and their wedding veils. The flowers were a blessing. They blessed the couple with a child. How could they not? They grew in the mist. The mist was formed from baby’s breath. And the name of the flower was the same. The bride who wore baby’s breath was blessed. She was soon with child.
Bats in His Belfry
The old bell ringer lived all alone. No one visited him. Everyone thought he was mad. Everyone said he had bats in his belfry. It wasn’t just a rumor. It was true. He could see them every time he rang his bell. ‘Ding dong!’ the bell rang. ‘Ding dong ding!’ This always stirred the animals up. It always made them come out of hiding. It always infuriated them. They were tired of all this bell ringing.
“What’s that noise?” asked the bat. “It’s driving me batty!”
“I’m feeling a bit antsy, myself,” said the ant.
“I can’t stand it,” said the cuckoo bird. “I’m going cuckoo!”
“I can’t get any sleep,” said the ant.
“Neither can I,” complained the bat. “I didn’t sleep a wink last night.”
“What are we going to do?” asked the cuckoo bird.
“We have to stop all this bell ringing,” the ant insisted.
“But how?” asked the cuckoo bird.
“I have an idea,” said the bat.
The bat had a novel idea. He decided he was going to spread a rumor. He decided to pass the word that the bell ringer had bats in his belfry. That way, everyone would move out of town. No one liked bats. Sure enough, that’s just what happened. The bat told the blue jays about the bell ringer. They told the squirrels. The squirrels chattered about it among themselves and then told the chipmunks and on the rumor spread.
The blue jays were the best tattletales. What’s the fastest way to spread the word? What’s faster than a telephone and a telefax? Tell a jay! They talk like a bunch of jays. Soon they had spread the word to everyone but the door mice, so they knocked on their door.
“Have you heard about the bell ringer?” they asked.
“No, what’s the news?” asked the door mouse who answered the door.
“He’s got bats in his belfry.”
“Really, I hate bats,” said the door mouse. “There goes the neighborhood. I’m moving!”
“Me too,” said the squirrel. “I’m going squirrelly with all this noise.
So the animals all moved away. In no time, this neck of the woods was empty. The bell ringer had no one to talk to. He had stopped ringing the bell. For the first time, it was quiet in the town. The night was calm and still. Everyone slept peacefully. Even the bell ringer slept like a dream. Soon word traveled that peace was restored to the town. The town animals moved back to the town. They were happy for the first time in a long time. At last they could have some peace.
Bee My Honey
There’s a wonderful love story. It’s about a pair of honeybees. They met one day in the meadow. They were flying from flower to flower. They were feeding on all the sweet pollen. They wanted to make an offering to the queen bee. They wanted to give her some royal jelly. The queen loved royal jelly. She loved to spread it on her peanut butter sandwiches. It gave her lots of energy.
“What are you doing?” asked Bee.
“I’m collecting pollen,” said Honey.
“Why?” asked Bee.
“I want to make some royal jelly,” Honey replied.
“Really?” said Bee “Me too. That’s amazing.”
“We have the same job.”
“I guess we do,” Honey agreed.
“Wow!” Bee exclaimed. “We have lots in common.”
The honeybees carried on with their work. They gathered lots of pollen. They took it back to the beehive. They worked through the night. They had a special recipe. They had a special formula. They knew how to turn pollen into royal jelly. They had to guard the recipe carefully. No one could know their secret. The royal jelly was only for the queen. No one else could have any. Royal jelly was only for royalty. You had to be a queen bee to bee a real somebody.
“To bee or not to bee,” said Honey.
“You’re not sure you want to be a bee?” asked Bee.
“No, I’m tired of beeing a bee,” Honey replied.
“I know what you mean,” said the busy Bee. “We do all the work and get no credit.”
“Exactly,” Honey agreed. “We make the royal jelly and the queen eats it all.”
“I know,” said Bee “Why don’t we elope?”
“You mean it?” Honey asked.
“Sure,” said Bee. “We’ll run away together. At last, we can bee together. Will you bee my honey?”
“I’m Honey, aren’t I?” said Honey.
“Great! We’ll be honeybees.”
The two bees lived happily ever after. They were always buzzing around. They stopped making royal jelly for the queen. Instead, they started sharing it around. They did not believe in the caste system. They bee-lieved everyone was equal. They decided to just let it bee.
Birth of a Queendom
Once there was a happy kingdom. It was like heaven on earth. It had a good king and a kind queen. The peasants were happy. The animals were content. But the king needed an heir. It was a commonwealth. Everyone shared the wealth. But the king needed an heir. The kingdom needed a future king. There had to be a king of the dom. Otherwise there would be no kingdom.
The king and queen were having a child. It was their happiest hour. All their subjects had come to see the birth. There was great reveling and rejoicing. Everyone was celebrating. It was early spring. Dew was still fresh on the royal lawn. A mist rose from the lawn. The children danced in the mist. The king held up his newborn child. A loud cheer rose from the crowd.
“My people!” cried the king. “I give you your new princess!”
“Long live the princess!” shouted the people.
“After I am gone, she will rule,” declared the king.
“Long live the king!” shouted the subjects.
“But there is a problem, your majesty,” said the king’s advisor.
“What problem?” asked the king.
“Your heir is a girl,” said the king’s advisor.
“So?” said the king.
“But sire,” said the vizier. “Without the king, there can be no kingdom. How can we have a dom without a king?”
“The queen will rule in my stead,” said the king. “And when the princess is old enough, she will rule.”
“Long live the queen!” shouted the subjects.
“But what will become of the kingdom, sire?” the vizier demanded.
“The kingdom will be dissolved,” the king declared.
“What will happen to it?” asked the vizier.
“It will become a queendom,” said the king.
The king held a mask that night. People came from far and wide. Everyone wore a mask to the masque. Everyone was in disguise. But this mask was special. No one came as an emperor or king. No one came as a Caesar or a conqueror. This time people dressed up in female clothes. Most were dressed as empresses or queens.
It was a whole new world. It didn’t matter whether you were a prince or a princess. It didn’t matter whether you were a king or a queen. If you were a prince, you were the prince of a princedom. If you were a princess, you were the prince of a princedom. If you were a king, you were the ruler of a kingdom. If you were a queen, you ruled over a queendom. Everything had changed. Everyone was more open-minded. People realized you could change everything with a name. If a place didn’t fit the name, the name had to fit the place. It was easy. Since there were no queens of kingdoms, they just had to change the name. Is there any reason kings should be the only rulers of a dom.
Fighting Like Cats and Dogs
There was a kindly zookeeper. He took pride in all kinds of stray animals. He cared for them and loved them. One day, he found a dog. The next day he found a leopard. He decided to take the two orphans in. He washed, fed and cared for them. He placed them in the same pen together. He watched them frolicking and playing. He could see how well they got along. He thought it strange. ‘Canines and felines are eternal enemies,’ he thought. ‘How is it these two are such good friends.’
The dog and leopard were like siblings. They washed each other. They ate together. They even slept together. The two animals grew closer by the day. They were hardly ever apart. They did everything together. One day the dog had a cut. He was limping badly. The leopard saw the dog favoring his leg.
“What happened?” asked the leopard.
“A little girl was feeding me through the fence,” the dog explained. “I was too anxious. I lunged for the food and cut my leg on the fence.”
“You should be more careful,” the leopard advised.
“You know it’s strange,” said the dog.
“I have looked up to you. I have admired and respected you. I have even wanted to be like you. And because of that, I have grown wild. I am not careful. I have become reckless and full of daring.”
“And I have watched you. I have loved and adored you. I have wanted to be like you. And because of that I have become cautious.”
“Have you noticed?” asked the dog. “We don’t fight like cats and dogs. I am like you and you are like me. We have become more like each other. I am now a cat and you are now a dog.”
“We are mixed up, aren’t we?” the cat agreed.
“It’s all your fault!” the dog said.
“Yes,” the dog snarled. “If you hadn’t wanted to be like me, none of this would have happened.”
“And if you hadn’t wanted to be like me, you’d still be a dog,” the leopard growled.
The two animals snarled and growled at each other. They barred their teeth. They began nipping and biting each other. They took swipes at each other with their paws. Soon they were both standing on their hind legs. They clawed at each other. They snapped and nipped. The dog had the upper hand. The leopard was wounded. The dog had drawn first blood. The leopard gave a loud growl and fell to the ground.
“What’s wrong?’ asked the dog.
“You have become vicious like me,” his friend replied.
“And you have grown soft like a dog,” observed the dog.
“What should we do?” asked the leopard.
“Why don’t we just try being ourselves?” the dog suggested. “We should be happy with who we are and what we have.”
Forget Me Not
An old woman lived in a quiet village. It was far from the hustle and bustle. She lived next to the forest. There were lots of birds and animals. Her garden was full of playful squirrels. Birds sported and played in the birdbath. And geese and swans paddled around in the pond.
The old woman kept a flower garden. In the spring, tulips sprung up. In the fall, daisies fell over. This was the cycle of life. In her garden, she had roses, hyacinth, magnolia, and morning glories. But her favorite of all were the forget-me-nots. They were always clamoring for more water.
“Please give me more water,” they called to her.
“But I just watered you,” the old woman would reply.
“That was two days ago!” the flowers protested.
“Two minutes ago, you mean,” said the old lady.
“It might seem so to you,” said the flowers. “But we’re thirsty.”
The old lady was very forgetful. She couldn’t remember anything. At first, she couldn’t remember the month of year. The she forgot the day of the week. Now she didn’t even know the time of day. She couldn’t recall a thing. She always neglected her chores. It wasn’t that she was lazy. She loved to keep busy. The problem was she just couldn’t remember. ‘Did I trim the hedge?’ she asked herself. ‘Did I cut the grass?’
“Did you water the flowers?” asked the forget-me-nots.
“Of course I did,” the old woman replied.
“How do you know?” asked the flowers. “Do you remember trimming the hedge?”
“Why no,” said the old woman.
“Then how do you know if you watered us?” asked the flowers.
“I don’t know,” said the old woman.
“Forget me not!” exclaimed the most vocal of the flowers.
“Forget me not!” shouted another.
“Forget me not!” said the shiest of the lot.
The forget-me-nots were singing in chorus. “Forget me not! Forget me not!”they shouted.
The old woman felt terrible. She hadn’t meant to neglect the flowers. She had just forgotten all about them. She wanted to fix the situation. She wanted to make amends. She drew some water from the well. She pumped the handle of the pump. She pumped and pumped. But by the end of it all, she couldn’t remember why.‘What was I about to do?’ she asked. ‘Why am I holding a watering can?’
“Forget me not!” said the flowers. “Forget me not!”
“Oh, now I remember,” she said. “I have to water the forget-me-nots. I mustn’t forget. They won’t let me forget for a second. They’re always reminding me. Forget me not! Forget me not!”
Frozen in Time
The moments were creeping through the passage of time. But progress was slow. The Father of Time had closed the gate. He wasn’t letting a single moment go by. The moments were waiting at the gate. They had to wait for several moments. Some of them were rather slow. None of the moments could make any progress. The Father of Time wouldn’t let a single moment go by. He was afraid of getting old. He wanted to stay young forever. That’s why he closed the passage of time.
“Please let us pass,” begged one of the moments.
“I can’t,” said the Father of Time.
“Why not?” asked another moment.
“I do not want a moment go by,” he said.
“But why?” asked a more momentous moment.
“Because I am getting older by the moment,” he explained.
“I can see why you don’t want to get any older,” said a moment of greater moment.
“Why is that?” asked the Father of Time.
“You’re already old enough,” he replied.
This comment upset the Father of Time. He was terrified of getting old. But this moment was telling him he was already over the hill. The Father of Time was a powerful sorcerer. He wanted to stop the passage of time. That’s why he decided to cast a spell. It was a cold spell he cast. He wanted everything to be frozen in time. Everything was frozen solid. Nothing moved. A great cold descended on the land. A cold north wind blew in. Everyone was feeling the cold. No one could take the cold. Many birds decided to fly south for the winter. Even the leaves began to leave. That is why the fall is called fall.
“Where have all the leaves gone?” asked the baby squirrel.
“It is time for the leaves to leave,” explained the mother.
“Why?” asked the little one.
“It is summer’s fall,” his mother explained. “This is the cycle of life. Birth, growth, harvest and rest.”
“How long to we have to wait for the spring to spring?” asked the baby
“Spring will spring when the groundhog sees its shadow,” explained the mother.
With the fall of summer, there followed the spring of winter. Soon the spring would spring. With the coming of spring, the spell would be broken. Things would no longer be frozen in time. Time would no longer stand still. The cold spell would be dispelled. The sorcerer’s spell would be lifted. The gate to the future would be opened. The passage of time would spring open. The Father of Time would allow the moments to pass. The moments would then race through the passage of time. The leaves would no longer leave. The leaves would return. The spring would spring. And all the animals would rejoice. Soon the groundhog would stick his head out of his hole. He would behold his shadow on the first day of spring. Then he would spring from his hole. That is the day spring will have sprung.
Let There Be Light
The full moon was shinning. It had a borrowed light. It had borrowed its light from the sun. The cascading waterfall was glowing. It had a borrowed light. It had borrowed from the light. The waves were sparkling. They had a borrowed light. They had borrowed their light from the lamps along the shore. The wings of the gulls glittered. They shone with a borrowed light. They had borrowed their light from the moon and stars.
Everything was shinning in a symphony of light. All the notes were playing in harmony. Nothing was out of tune. The moon shone with the light of the sun. The waterfall glowed with the light of the moon. The waves sparkled with the light of the lamps. The wings of the gulls glittered with the light of the moon and stars. Everything shone with a borrowed light. Everything depended on something else to make it shine.
“I wish I could shine,” said the mermaid.
“You do shine,” said the porpoise.
“How?” asked the mermaid.
“You shine at everything you do,” the porpoise replied.
“But how?” she asked.
“You swim so well. You shine at swimming. You shine in the moonlight. You shine when you bask in the sun. You shine when you reach for the stars. The moon and the sun and the stars applaud you. When you shine, they shine. And you shine at everything you do.”
“You have a way with words,” said the mermaid.
“Stop,” said the porpoise. “You’re making me turn red.”
“Then I must be making you shine,” said the mermaid.
Everything shone with a borrowed light. God’s light was generous. Each light was happy to share its light with another. The sun lent its light to the moon. The moon borrowed its light from the sun. The moon leant its light to the waterfall. The waterfall borrowed its light from the moon. The lamps leant their light to the waves. The moon and stars leant their light to the wings of the gulls. And the gulls shone with a borrowed light.
“Do you see how everything shines?” asked the mermaid.
“But what makes it so?” asked the porpoise.
“We need each other to really shine,” the mermaid replied.
“You mean I need you to shine?” asked the porpoise.
“Of course. Do you think you could shine without me?” I praise you and make you shine. You shine with a borrowed light. You shine with my light.”
“So you shine with my light?” asked the porpoise.
“Of course. You praise me. You give me light. I shine with a borrowed light. I shine with your light.”
“Stop, you’re making me blush again.”
“No, I’m making you shine.”
There was peace on the sea. There was peace in heaven. There was peace on earth. There was peace everywhere. Everything shone with a borrowed light. Everything shone with a shared light. Everything was happy to give and receive. May we all be happy to give and receive. Maybe then, there really peace on earth.
Living on Borrowed Time
Once there lived a lonely old man. He was so old he should have died long ago. He was living on borrowed time. He owed a lot of time to the Father of Time. He was deeply in his debt. He planned to pay him back, but there just wasn’t enough time. He was already living on borrowed time. What he needed was more time. That was the problem. He needed more time, but he had to borrow more time to get it. The more time he borrowed, the more time he needed to borrow. He was always in debt.
Time never stood still. In fact, time waited for no man. The old man was always in a hurry. He was trying to catch up with the times. But time kept racing by. Soon the old man was behind the times. His clothes were out of fashion. His collars were too long. His ties were too wide; his jackets too long; and his shirts too bright. He was not very up with the times. The times had passed him by. In short, he was behind the times.
He kept racing against the clock. He kept racing against time. He knew he was living on borrowed time. He knew he had no time to spare, so he was trying to use his time well. He was spending time trying to save time. But that was the problem. He was spending too much time trying to save a minute. The more time he saved, the less time he saved.
“Could I take out another loan?” asked the old man.
“But I just gave you some time,” replied the Father of Time.
“I know,” said the old man, “but I’ve run out and I need more.”
“Do you see this hourglass?” asked the Father of Time.
“Yes, said the old man.
“Well, that’s how much time you have left. Each time you borrow time, I turn the hourglass over. I give you more time.”
“I know,” said the old man. “It’s very generous of you.”
“You can’t borrow any more time,” he said.
“But why?” asked the old man.
“Because you’re borrowing time from your next life,” said the old timer. “If you keep living on borrowed time, your next life will be even shorter.”
“But what if lived on borrowed time in my next life?”
“Then you will be borrowing time from the life after that.”
The old man thought for a while. He knew he was wasting his time, but he just couldn’t help it. It was just no use. He had to face it. His time had come. It was time to face up the music. He just couldn’t keep living on borrowed time. He was getting older by the minute. He was growing weak. He could no longer race against the clock. He could no longer keep up with the times. He was already behind the times. He had to accept the end. His time had come. It was time for him to meet his maker.
The old man decided to spend his time well. He stopped racing after the clock. He stopped racing against time. He suddenly realized he had more time on his hands. He actually had time to spend for a change. No longer did he have to depend on borrowed time. He now had time to smell the roses. He had time to listen to music. He had time to touch the pretty flowers. He had time to behold the sunsets. He had time to experience the good life. He had time to steal a tender glance. At last he was stealing away time. Now he had time to spare.
The old man glanced at the hourglass. Time was running out. But there was no hurry. He had time to savor the moments. He had time to think. No longer was the old man living on borrowed time. His time was his own. He could spend his time any way he liked. He was making the most of his time. The end was near now, but he could afford to wait. There was no hurry. His time was his own.
Riding a Heat Wave
It was a hot summer day. The rabbit was in her hole. The squirrel was in his tree. The toad was sitting on a toadstool. They were all trying to keep cool. The problem is they didn’t feel cool. They were riding a heat wave. The noise didn’t help. The animals were making a racket. The partridges were drumming as they flew through the trees. The woodpeckers were also part of the percussion section. Meanwhile, the cicadas were making their own racket. Everyone was trying to beat the heat.
The other animals preferred peace and quiet. The noise only made them feel hotter. They lay awake all night. And they couldn’t sleep any better during the day. The drone of the cicadas made them feel restless. They could never seem to get any peace.
“What’s that racket?” asked the rabbit, poking her head out of her hole.
“It’s a cicada,” said the toad.
“What’s a cicada?” Asked the squirrel.
“What do you think is making all the racket?” asked the rabbit.
“Well, it’s driving me squirrelly,” said the squirrel.
“It’s making me as crazy as a March hare!” declared the rabbit.
“I’m getting a bit jumpy myself,” said the toad.
“We need to talk to the gray owl,” said the squirrel. “He’s old and wise.”
“He doesn’t give a hoot!” said the rabbit.
“That’s because he’s used to it,” said the toad.
“Hoot! Hoot!” said the owl.
“You see,” said the squirrel. “He does give a hoot.”
“Of course I do,” said the owl. “I’m an owl. Owls do hoot, you know.”
“Please owl,” begged the rabbit. “Can you help us?”
“But how?” asked the owl.
“How can we stop the noise?” asked the toad. “It’s making us jumpy.”
“You’re bound to be a bit jumpy,” said the owl. “You’re a toad. He’s a squirrel. And she’s a rabbit. It’s in your nature to be jumpy.”
“But we want to be more calm,” said the squirrel. “What should we do?”
“Learn to accept the way things are,” said the owl.
“But how?” asked the squirrel. “The noise is driving me squirrelly.”
“As nature intended,” the owl observed.
“And I’m nearly as crazy as a March hare,” the rabbit declared.
“You are a hare, are you not madam?” asked the owl.
“I’m getting a bit jumpy myself,” declared the toad.
“You are bound to be,” the owl advised.
Clearly, the owl did give a hoot. It was his nature. As for the partridges, woodpeckers, and cicadas, they kept on trying to beat the heat.
Sailors from the Stars
The astronomer stared through the telescope. It was the eyeglass of eternity. He could see the far reaches of the farthest reaches with it. He could see to the far end of the end of time. He could even see the Big Bang making a bang. He could see the birth of the stars and galaxies. He could see the whole sea of space.
“What are you looking for?” asked a skeptic.
“I’m looking for sailing ships,” Galileo replied.
“Aren’t you pointing that thing in the wrong direction then?” asked the skeptic.
“What do you mean?” asked Galileo.
“You look for ships on the sea,” said the skeptic.
“So I am,” said Galileo.
“What are you talking about? The sea is down here, not up there!”
“I search for ships in the sea of space,” said Galileo.
“There are no ships in space, you fool!” shouted the skeptic.
“Indeed there are,” Galileo objected. “They are called space ships.”
“There are no such ships and no such sailors,” urged the skeptic.
“Many sailors have discovered new worlds. They sailed to new worlds because they had technology. The natives in these lands did not sail. They did not have the means. The E.T.s are sailors too. Only they sail the sea of space. They are looking for new worlds too. Our ancestors sailed to new worlds. They had the technology to do so. Are not we sailing through space. Are not we visiting new worlds? We are aliens too. Why is so hard to imagine aliens visiting our world from above? I am looking for sailors. I am searching for ships in the sea of space.
Galileo gazed through his telescope. He could see a falling star. He made a wish. He wished he could meet a sailor from another world. He wished he could see a ship sailing the sea of space. Suddenly there was a flash. The sky lit up. There was a great light in the heavens. The falling star was still falling. It was falling from the sky. It was falling toward the earth. Galileo had wished upon a star. Now his wish was granted. It was not a falling star at all but a sailing ship. It had traversed the sea of space. Sailors had come from afar to see his little world. Soon the natives of earth would greet these sailors. They would welcome them to their shores. One day we will discover new worlds of our own in space. Many natives will be there to greet us too. Few of them will believe their eyes. And few will believe them when they tell their tale.
The Big Dipper
Everyone knows the moon is made of cheese. But who made it? The Man in the Moon made it. But how did he make it? First, he dipped the Big Dipper into the Milky Way. Then he drew out some milk. He drank some and he saved some. Then he dipped the little Dipper into the Milky Way. He drank some and poured the rest into the Milky Way. The milk stayed there for several days and nights. During the day, the milk got warm. It started to curdle. The Man in the Moon started stirring it. Finally, it turned into cheese.
The Man in the Moon liked it a lot. He kept making more and more. Finally, he had a great big ball of cheese. It smelled so good. The Man in the Moon couldn’t resist the smell. He took little bites out of it. Soon there were lots of holes in the cheese. The earthlings called them craters. They could see them through their telescopes.
The Man in the Moon had made so much cheese. The moon had gotten very big and round. The bigger it got, the stronger it smelled. The smell of cheese was very strong. It wafted out of the heavens. It drifted all the way to Earth. It even attracted some field mice. They came out of their holes to investigate. They gathered in the field. They sniffed and sniffed. They ran around and around. They searched everywhere for some sign of cheese, but no one could find any.
“Where is the cheese?” asked a little mouse.
“I don’t know son,” his father replied. “We’ve looked everywhere. We’ve searched high and low, but we can’t find any cheese anywhere.”
“You said you’ve searched high and low?” asked the owl.
“Yes,” said the father mouse.
“How high?” asked the owl. “You can’t have searched that high. You may have searched the hills and mountains. But have you searched the heavens?”
“What do you mean?” asked the father mouse.
“That smell is out of this world,” said the owl.
“You’re right,” said the father mouse. It is an unearthly smell.”
“Exactly,” said the owl. “So why are you looking for cheese down here? You have to search the heavens.”
Father mouse searched the heavens. He sniffed and sniffed. He could smell milk very palpably. ‘It must be the Milky Way,’ he thought. He kept sniffing. He suddenly smelled something sour. “That’s sour milk,’ he thought. ‘It must be coming from the Big Dipper. He sniffed again. This time he smelled something strong. It was a sharp smell, but sweet. ‘Why that’s coming from the moon!’ he thought. ‘We’ve always wanted to build a stairway to the stars,’ he thought. “Why not build a tower to the moon?’
The Black Sheep
Once there was a sheep. Her wool was white as snow. She was so beautiful. All the animals envied her. None could stand to be in her presence. Their beauty paled in comparison to hers. They couldn’t hold a candle to her. She was so lonely. She had no friends. She wanted company so badly.
One day she was out wandering in the fields. She came across a handsome sheep. His wool was black. He was a black sheep. He was lonely too. Everyone thought he was different. No one had ever seen a black sheep before. No one wanted to talk to him. Hardly anyone dared to be seen with him. He was all on his own.
“Hello,” said the white sheep.
“Good morning,” said the black sheep.
“You’re black,” observed the white sheep.
“No one likes me because I’m beautiful,” said the white sheep.
“No one likes me because I’m different,” said the black sheep.
“Then we’re the same,” said the white sheep.
“We’re not the same,” the black sheep protested. “You’re white and I’m black. You have no idea what it’s like to be black.”
“And you have no idea what it’s like to be white,” said the white sheep.
“But you’re so beautiful,” observed the black sheep.
“Then why does everyone shun and avoid me?” she asked.
“Because you shame them with your beauty,” he replied.
“If my beauty repulses people, then I’m repulsive,” she declared.
“It’s better than being ugly,” the black sheep argued. “I’m repulsive because I really am ugly.”
“You’re not ugly,” said the white sheep. “Your wool is black as tar. You’re repulsive because you are different.”
“You’re right,” said the black sheep. “We are the same.”
“What makes you think so?” asked the white sheep.
“We’re both repulsive. I thought it was because I was ugly. You thought it was because you were too beautiful. But we’re both wrong. We’re repulsive because we’re different. That makes us the same.”
The white sheep and the black sheep were no longer lonely. And they made lots pf little lambs together. Black and white lambs were everywhere.”
The Blind Can See
Once there were seven blind men. They lived in a tiny village. One day they had a visitor. It was such a nice surprise. They had never had such a visitor before. The villagers flocked to see the new visitor. Even the seven blind men were curious to see who this stranger was, so they also followed the procession.
“There is an elephant here!” the town crier cried.
“What’s an elephant?” asked the blind men.
“See for yourself,” cried the crier.
“Can’t you see?” asked the blind men. “We’re blind.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t notice,” said the crier.
The blind men couldn’t see. Their eyes wouldn’t work. They used their hands instead. They wanted to see the elephants. Others had blind man canes. They felt their way along. They walked and walked and let nothing stand in their way. Then suddenly their canes felt something. It was big and hard like a wall. The blind men had chanced upon the elephant.
“Is everyone here?” asked Neeti. “Naresh? Sribas? Ranjit? Govinda? Jeetendra? Gadadha?”
“We’re all here,” they replied.
“Let’s see the elephant,” said Neeti.
“The elephant is a pillar,” said Naresh, touch the leg.
“No, it is a rope,” Sribas declared, petting the tail.
“Nay, it is a tree branch,” Ranjit insisted, fondling the trunk.
“It is like a fan!” Govinda exclaimed, feeling the ear.
“It is like a solid wall,” Jeetendra argued, caressing the belly.
“It is solid as a pipe,” said Gadadha, tapping the tusk.
“It is soft as a sponge,” Neeti announced, touching the tongue.
Each of them saw a part. None of them saw the whole. Each one thought he was right. Each of them was only partly so. They argued and fought and became very angry. A wise man was observing them. He decided to settle the dispute.
“What is the mater?” asked the sage.
“Each of us sees a different elephant,” they replied.
“Of course,” said the sage. “Each of you is blind. You see only a part and not the whole.”
“But how can we all be right?” asked Neeti. “How can an elephant be all these things? How can an elephant be a pillar, a rope, a branch, fan, wall, pipe, and sponge?”
“In my religion, the truth comes in seven forms,” said the sage. “You are seven. You have expressed seven truths. Each of you is right. But each of you is only partly so. There is no need to argue. You are all right. But there is no reason to feel proud or inadequate. None of you knows better than the other. None of you sees the whole.”
“But you see the whole, master,” said Neeti. “Therefore, you are not blind like us. You see truly. You are a true seer.”
“But I am blind like you,” he protested. “There is so much I do not see. What is on the other side of that mountain?” I do not know. Can you tell me?”
“You are right, master,” said Neeti. “We are all blind. We see only a part.”
One man does not have to be right. Many can be right at the same time. One answer may not be enough. The truth may be broad. There are many religions. Each may be right. Each may be only partly right. The religions are like the seven blind men. Each sees only a part. None sees the whole. Only God the Father sees all. Can men presume to speak for God?
The Blue Whale
The blue whale was feeling blue. He was tired of feeling blue. His whole world was blue. The sea was blue. The sky was blue. He was blue. Who wouldn’t feel blue in those circumstances? He needed some color in his life. He needed something to brighten his world.
Just then a seagull came along. He could see the whale was feeling blue, so he decided to cheer him up. He took a dive. He flew straight down into the water. He swooped down on the whale’s back. Just then, the whale sent up a spout of water. The seagull was carried high in the air. The waterspout carried him straight up.
“This is great whale!” exclaimed the gull. “What a ride! It’s just like a fun park!”
“Are you really having fun?” asked the whale.
“Fun?” asked the gull. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”
“That makes me happy,” said the whale.
“You mean you’re not feeling blue anymore,” asked the gull.
“Not at all. You’re white. And my waterspout is foamy and white too. And I just saw a big fluffy cloud and its white as well.”
Just then some more clouds appeared. It started getting cloudy. The wind was blowing and the clouds raced across the sky. The wind brought some other birds. Soon there were swallows, cormorants and other seabirds. They came in array of colors. No one was feeling blue now. Even more seals and dolphins had come to play. They loved watching the waterspout. It was a great fountain. Many of the birds played in the waterspout. It was cool and refreshing.
“That was fun,” said the swallow. “But I swallowed some water.”
“Let me try,” said the cormorant. “”It’s so much fin!”
“It’s like a fun park here,” agreed the dragonfly.
“I love the fountain,” said the flying fish. “Watch this! I’m going to fly through the fountain.”
“It’s so colorful!” said the dolphin.
“I know,” agreed the seal. “No one’s feeling blue now. Everything is so full of color.”
The blue whale was no longer feeling blue. He was overjoyed. There was so much color in his life. His spirits were too bright to be blue. He sent another waterspout up in the air. The sun shone through the spray. Just then a rainbow appeared. Everyone saw it. The rainbow was very colorful. Everyone was in the pink. No one felt blue anymore.
The Chand Chakoras Birds
Everyone has heard of lovebirds. The Chand Chakoras are the most loving lovebirds there are. They like to play and sport on the clouds. They chase each other through golden shafts of sunlight. They dive through clouds. They dash across rainbows. And when they get thirsty, they drink in all the colors of the rainbow. They get their passion from indigo, their melancholy from aquamarine, their envy from green, and their love from red. They get their feminine side from pink, their sweet dispositions from orange, and their timidity from yellow. At night, they bathe in the moonlight. They love the night more than the day any day. The night is full of romance. In the day, the soul sleeps. But at night, the soul springs to life. Theat’s why all lovebirds love the night. And the Chand Chakoras are no exception.
The Chand Chakoras are as white as swans, their feathers as soft as fleece. They look like angels in the moonlight. They race through the heavens. They chase each other in the moonlight. They dance on clouds. They romance each other with their feathers. They are always dancing on clouds. They bathe in the moonlight. And they feed on moonbeam nectar. That is why their feathers are slivery white.
“Look at those lovebirds,” said the boy.
“I envy them,” the girl observed.
“Why?” asked the boy.
“Isn’t it obvious?” asked the girl. “They’re dancing on clouds. They are sailing in the moonlight. They are drinking in a rainbow of colors. They feed on moonbeam nectar. I wish we were like them.”
“But we are,” said the boy. “We are skating on ice. And the sky is reflected in the ice. As above, so it is below. As below, so it is above. We are dancing on clouds too. We are gliding on moonlight. We are sailing on moonbeams.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“There is only one love story,” said the boy. “And each of us is playing a part.”
The girl and the boy skated on the pond. The moon bathed them in silver light. They skated and glided. They made loops and figures eight. The boy raised the girl in the air. He spun her around and around. Suddenly, she turned into a bird. Her gossamer feathers shone in the moonlight. The boy wanted to join her. He also went into a spin. He raised his hands above his head. He spun faster and faster. Suddenly, he disappeared. He simply vanished from sight. His skates were still spinning on the ice. But he was gone. He seemed to have turned into a beam of light. Then he just as suddenly reappeared. He had shape-shifted. He was now a bird, a Chand Chakoras bird.
Every night, somewhere in the world someone falls in love. Every night, there are two lovebirds. Love is a magical event. If you ever saw it, you would know for yourself. It’s not everyday you see two people turn into lovebirds. It’s a rare sight in this world. It’s as rare a sight as spotting two Chand Chakoras birds in the sky. But sometimes you see such rare birds. You might be holding hands on a mountain promontory. You might be hugging beneath the stars on a starry starry night. You might be sharing an umbrella in the rain. You might be watching a sunset. But suddenly, out of the blue there will come to Chand Chakoras birds. You will know them by their kiss. They will be feeding each other moonbeam nectar. They will be sharing all the colors of the rainbow.
“I never thought it was possible,” said the female Chand Chakoras.
“What?” asked the male.
“Falling in love,” she replied.
“That’s because you never tried to fly before. You should never be afraid of love. You should never be afraid to fly.”
“I’m glad I’m a lovebird,” said the girl.
“I’m glad we’re lovebirds,” said the boy.
The two lovebirds sailed away on a moonbeam. They sailed straight for the stars. No one ever saw them again. Some say they found true love. Some say they found immortal love. Some say they became stars in the night sky. Some say they can see them at night. Others say they appear every full moon. Behold the sky on the night of a full moon and look for the twin stars. It will look like they’re twinkling at each other. But they’re not. They’re kissing. They’re feeding each other moonbeam nectar. If you’re lucky, you might taste them too.
The Feather Pen
The prince had many ideas. He wanted to record them. He wanted to write them all down. It was important for him to keep a record of them. The trouble is he had no writing instrument. He had so many ideas he had already forgotten half of them. The situation was getting desperate.
One day he was out riding with his servant. They were riding across the meadow together. The prince stopped his horse and looked up. He could see a hawk soaring through the air.
“What are you doing, master?” asked the servant.
“I’m watching that bird,” the master replied.
“But why, master?” the servant asked.
“I want a feather,” the prince replied.
“Why?” asked the servant.
“I want to write down my thoughts,” the prince replied. “I want to give my words wing. I want my words to take flight.”
“But how are you going to do that, master?” asked the servant.
“I’m going to learn to write with a feather,” he replied. “Then my words will take wing. My words will begin to soar. My thoughts will finally take flight.”
The prince dismounted from his horse. He watched the bird circling above. He watched as the hawk swooped down on its prey. The bird was carrying food to its young. He set off in search of the bird’s nest. He began climbing a cliff. Before long he was halfway up. He looked down from a great height.
Finally, he found the nest. Some baby hawks were in the nest. They were crying for food. Their mother would soon return. The prince searched the nest for a feather. He wanted to give wing to his words. He did not have much time. The mother would soon be back. He had to find a feather before she returned. At last he found one. It was light as a feather. He could hold easily and nimbly in his hand.
Just then the mother hawk appeared. She cried out angrily at the intruder. She swooped down on him. She pecked at him fiercely with her beak, while scratching him with her talons. The prince was taken off guard. Suddenly, he lost his balance and fell from the cliff. The feather flew from his hand. Luckily, the servant, who was faithfully standing below, caught it. The prince had fallen from his high horse.
Soon his servant would learn to write. The feather would give flight to his words. His words would finally take wing. He would become famous, his name known far and wide. Many people would read his books. He would be as wealthy as a prince. He would erect a castle on the edge of the cliff. Here, he would teach his words to fly. Here, his words would take wing. His words would leave the nest and go out into the world. Soon the people would turn to him for council. They would venerate him and call him prince. He would be given a title. The peasant would become a prince. This is what they call a The Flying Squirrel
There was a squirrel that loved birds. He loved to watch them fly. He envied their ability to fly from tree to tree. He wanted to fly like them. One day, he decided to take a chance. He really went out on a limb. He stood on the end of a limb, took a deep breath, and jumped. It was a long jump. He leapt for all he was worth, but he wasn’t worth much. In fact, he was quite poor at jumping. He fell straight to the ground. But he was no quitter. He picked himself right up and was determined to try again. He was determined to learn how to fly.
“Look, the squirrel is trying to fly,” said the chicken.
“I’ve been trying to do that for years,” said the peacock.
“Me too,” said the chicken. “I can barely get off the ground and I’m a bird.”
“The squirrel is foolish,” said the peacock. “We can’t fly and we’re birds. What makes him think he can fly?”
“He’s too ambitious,” said the chicken.
“Yes, he is rather overconfident,” said the peacock. “We peacocks say he’s cocky.”
“That’s true,” said the chicken. “You’re a peacock and I’m a cock and he’s trying to be one too.”
“Isn’t it silly? He’s hopeless.”
They thought the squirrel couldn’t hear them. They didn’t know he was listening. He was lying on a bed of sunflowers in a tree overhead. He had heard everything. He had his ear to the wall. He was angry. He decided he was going to show them. He went on a diet for a whole week. It was the fastest fast he had ever been on. He wanted it to be longer, but it had to be a fast fast. He had to lose weight as quickly as possible. After that, he went out on a limb again. He stood on the end of the limb and waited for a strong wind. Then he jumped.
“Do you see what I see?” asked the chicken.
“I sure do,” said the peacock. “He’s trying to fly again.”
“Do you think he’ll make it?”
“I don’t know,” said the peacock. “Let’s make a bet.”
“I bet he can’t,” said the chicken
“I’ll bet he can,” said the peacock.
The squirrel made a big jump. It was a leap of faith. He sailed through the air. He spread his legs and rode on the wind currents. He sailed from tree to tree. It was a long jump, but he was a skillful long jumper. He was quite an athlete. No one was any longer in doubt. He was a flying squirrel. He taught his children to fly. Not all squirrels can fly. Only the children of flying squirrels can do it. We pass our dreams on to our children.
rags to riches story.
A greedy groundhog lived in the forest. He wanted to own everything. He had lost of property. He owned lots of real estate. His name was on everything. He owned the squirrel’s house, the rabbit’s house, the chipmunk’s and the field mouse’s house. This explains how he got his name. Now let’s listen to what the rabbits have to say about it all.
“Have you met the new landlord?” asked the rabbit.
“No, what’s he like?” asked the bunny.
“He’s so greedy,” said the rabbit. “He’s a real hog!”
“How is he a hog?” asked the bunny.
“He owns the ground under our feet,” said the rabbit. “He hogs everything. He’s a real groundhog.”
“That’s it!” said the bunny. “That’s what we’ll call him. We’ll call him the groundhog!”
“What a great name!” said the rabbit.
The next day, the rabbits were woken up by the sound of someone hammering. The rabbits peered out of their rabbit holes. They could see the groundhog. He was putting up a sign. It was an announcement. The sign indicated that he was raising everyone’s rent. The hammering woke up the other animals too. Soon, the squirrels, badgers, chipmunks and mice were all awake. All the animals were peering out their doors. Everyone could read the sign. It was in plain view for all too read. They all made their own signs and started protesting. Each animal carried a different sign.
“He’s gained too much ground!” said the rabbit’s sign.
“He’s got the whole nine yards!” read the chipmunk’s sign.
“I’ve heard of landlord’s before, but he thinks he’s the Lord of Creation!” the squirrel’s sign announced.
“He’s hogging all the land!” said the bunny’s sign. “He’s such a groundhog!”
“Let’s move out!” said the Toad’s sign. “Let’s get hopping!”
“I’m hopping mad!” the frog’s sign read.
The protest worked. The groundhog saw his mistake. He had been too greedy. He could see that. He was asking far too much. He didn’t want the animals to move. If they moved, he’d have no rent. He needed tenants. He needed them to stay. He decided to lower the rent. Prices were so low other animals came. The landlord had more tenants. He built more homes. He collected more rent. He made even more money. Everyone in the town began to love him. Everyone wanted to live in the town. It was such a happy place. The groundhog decided to change his name. He consulted the animals. It turned out they already had a name for him. They called him the groundskeeper.
The Harvest Moon
The forest animals were very clever. They could even tell time. In fact, they were always telling each other the time. That’s why everyone knew what time it was. Their friends were always telling them. How did they know? The moon told them. The animals were told the time by the moon. In fact, they had told time by the moon for many moons. Nobody could remember how many. It was so many moons ago.
Every month, there was a new moon. The new moon was followed by a quarter moon. The quarter moon was followed by a half moon. After the half moon, there came a three-quarter moon. And finally, there came the full moon. That’s how the animals learned to tell time. They always knew what time of the month it was. No one had to ask anyone the time. Everyone was always telling them the time. It was plain for all to see. It was staring them right in the face. All they had to do was look up at the face of the moon.
“What time is it?” asked the bear.
“I just told you,” complained the town crier.
“I didn’t hear you,” said the bear. “You hardly ever speak to me. You don’t want to give me the time of day.”
“That’s not true,” said the crier. “I tell you the time all the time, but you’re always sleeping your life away.
“It’s called hibernation,” said the bear.
“Well, I call it laziness,” said the crier.
The animals had to keep track of time. It was very important. Everything had to be on time. No one could afford to be late. There wasn’t any time to waste. Time was precious. They had to save as much time as they could. There had to be enough of it to go around. Everyone was into timesharing. No one was in a hurry. Everyone was trying to save time.
It was nearly time for the harvest. The harvest had to be on time. No one could be late for the fest. Without the harvest feast, there wouldn’t be enough food on the table. The food supply was running low. Everyone was waiting for the harvest. The sun was becoming a richer shade of yellow by the day. The days were getting shorter. The shadows were growing longer. It was almost time. They were just waiting for the sign.
While the sun was turning a richer shade of yellow, the moon was getting redder. The new moon had come and gone. The quarter moon had passed. The three-quarter moon had also come. Everyone was waiting for the full moon. This would be the harvest moon. It appeared every harvest. There was no mistaking it. Everyone always knew what time it was. The harvest moon was redder than the other moons. It was crimson as a rose. Everyone knew what it meant. It was time for the harvest. It was time to kill the fatted calf. It was time for the autumn feast.
“I’m starving!” the badger declared.
“Stop badgering me,” his mother insisted. “We have to wait.
“Is the harvest late?” asked the badger.
“Everything has its season,” his mother replied.
“Then why am I so hungry?” he asked.
“Because you do not obey the cycle of nature,” she advised.
The animals gathered for the feast that evening. There were bonfires everywhere. Everyone was staring at the sky. The sun had set. Twilight was upon them. They were just waiting for the moon to show its face. Suddenly, a lookout called from the tree. He had watched for the moon for many a moon. He had spotted it on the horizon. The hours passed. The moon slowly made its appearance above the horizon. It loomed large in the gathering duck. Finally it appeared above the trees. Everyone rejoiced. This was the harvest moon they had all been waiting for. The moon was crimson just as they had expected. It was time for the slaughter. It was time to kill the fatted calf. It was time for the harvest.
The animals were jubilant. Everywhere there was dancing and singing. The flames leapt higher and the fire grew hotter. The moon was bathed in the red light of the fire. The prophecy was self-fulfilling. They had expected the harvest, so it came. They had wished their wish would come true and it had. They got their wish. The harvest moon was no redder than the rest. It was the fires that made it glow.
The Hermit Kingdom
There was a dark corner of the forest. Nobody liked to go there. It was hidden away from the rest of the word. It was a hermit kingdom. Only the loneliest souls lived there. Hardly anyone wanted to live there. Only those who liked to be alone moved in. Houses were always up for sale. Property values were always falling. It was the cheapest place in the forest to live.
This is where Loner lived. He lived in the hollow of a tree. He was a snail. He liked to hide away from the world. For him, it was his own little hermit kingdom. Only the loneliest souls lived there. Hardly anyone wanted to live there. Only those who liked to be alone moved in. Houses were always up for sale. Property values were always falling. It was the cheapest place in the forest to live.
This is where Loner lived. He lived in the hollow of a tree. He was a snail. He liked to hide away from the world. He preferred to hide in his shell. He made his home in an old maple. Its branches stretched to the treetops. It stretched its limbs like an old man. It stretched and yawned. It stretched so hard it tore a hole in its trunk. That’s where loner lived. He lived in the middle of the tree. It was cozy and warm. There were blankets of birch bark. There were sheets made of leaves. There were soft feather pillows. There wasn’t even a draft. Loner made sure of that. He didn’t want any company, not even the wind. Whenever the wind called, he closed the door. No one was welcome, the wind least of all. He thought it was rude to come uninvited. And the wind didn’t wait for an invitation. It just blew in whenever it felt like it.
Loner had always been alone. All his friends were leaving. Even the leaves were leaving. They had decided to move on. They had put their trees up for sale and had moved out. For sale signs were everywhere. No one knew why the leaves wanted to leave. The animals were completely in the dark. No one could enlighten them. No one could shed any light on the mystery. They would always be in the dark. That’s why it was so dark in that neck of the woods.
“Why is everyone moving out?” asked Loner the snail. “I’d never put my house up for sale.”
“That’s because you’re attached to your house,” said the caterpillar.
“I can’t help it,” said Loner. “I was born here. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my house.”
“And there you’ll stay,” said the caterpillar. “You’ll never grow. You’ll be a little slug for the rest of your life.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked the snail. “You don’t even know who you are. One day, you’re a caterpillar. The next day you’re a chrysalis. The day after you’re a butterfly.”
It’s the same for all of us,” said the caterpillar. “We are all reborn. In your last life, you were an armadillo. In the next life, you’ll be a turtle. For you, progress is slow. You are always attached to your house. Not me. I am free. I keep moving house. I keep growing. At first I was earthbound. At that time, I crawled upon the earth. Then I became a chrysalis. Now I am a butterfly. I have no attachments. I am free. I have no home. I fly from place to place.
“Will I ever be free?” asked the snail.
“When you learn to be,” said the caterpillar. “Learn to be unattached. Leave your home. Come out of your shell. Explore the world.”
“But I might be eaten,” said the caterpillar.
“Then you will be free. You will reborn as a caterpillar like me.”
The snail decided to be brave. He decided to come out of his shell. He decided to explore the world. He began to crawl. He began to slither and slide. He explored the forest far and wide. Then a bird ate him. But that was not the end of him. He was reborn as a snake. As a snake he learned to grow. He kept shedding his skin. He was always on the move. He was always changing. He was always expanding and growing. Each time he grew, he left the past behind. He was always shedding his skin. He kept leaving his old self behind. He was no longer attached. For the first time in a long time he was free.
A carpenter lived in the middle of nowhere. No one knew quite where he lived. There were no signs giving directions. There were no mileage signs. No one knew how far it was to the next village. It was really no place in particular. Hardly anyone came to visit.
It is said the carpenter was old. It was said he was long in the tooth. No one knew whether this was true for sure. No one could count. There were no ages. No one knew how old anyone was. There was no way to measure age. No one could count on anyone to count. All that anyone could say is that the carpenter looked old.
There was a time when the carpenter was building a house. He had built many houses in town. Some of them were still standing. But most were falling down. Some of the houses were leaning and some of them had a lean on them. Some of them were cockeyed; others were crooked. Hardly any of them were standing straight up. None of them were made to measure. The trouble was he had no measuring tape and no yardstick. He did not even have a measuring system. There were no inches or yards. No one had invented them yet.
One day the carpenter was working on his house. He had built houses for everyone else. It was high time he built one for himself. He was sawing a board when he spotted something. A worm had poked his head up through a knot in the board.
“Who are you?” asked the carpenter.
“I’m an inch worm,” said the worm.
“What’s an inchworm?” asked the carpenter.
“Well, I’m exactly one inch long,” explained the inchworm.
“What’s an inch?” asked the carpenter.
“I am one inch,” explained the inchworm. As I inch along. I count in inches.”
“Do you think you can inch your way along this board?” asked the carpenter.
“Certainly,” said the worm. If you think you can keep count.”
The inchworm inched his way along, but moved far too slowly for the old man. The old codger wanted him to pick up the pace, but the inchworm just inched his way along. He was allowing the whole construction process down. The house was level. The house was straight. The problem was construction was too slow. The carpenter had solved one problem, but now he had another.
“Can’t you speed things up?” asked the carpenter.
“How much are you going to pay me?” asked the inchworm.
“Pay you?” asked the carpenter.
“Yes,” said the worm. I want to be paid in dollars and cents.
“Cents? I’m sorry, but that makes no sense.”
Give a worm an inch and he’ll take a yard.
The Leaning Tower of Pizza
Do you know where pizza comes from? It comes from the town of Pizza, where a clever Italian family lived. The mother was a great cook. And the father was an excellent chef. One day, the mother came up0 with a new recipe. It was delicious. The father sampled it.
“Momma Mia,” he said. “That’s a good a pizza.”
“Why do you always put the article ‘a’ in front of adjectives?” asked Momma Mia. “And why do you always put the article ‘a’ in front of uncountable nouns? It’s not a good a pizza. It’s good pizza!”
“Okay,” said Poppa Mia. “It’s good pizza.”
“That’s a good,” said Momma Mia.
“Now a you’re a doing it!” he exclaimed. “It’s not a good. It’s good!”
“Sorry,” said Momma Mia.
Poppa Mia was an excellent chef. He learned to throw the dough high in the air. He spun it and flipped it. He threw it end over end. He never once dropped it. He was great at juggling. He could juggle three pizzas at a time.”
“That’s a good,” said Momma Mia.
“It’s not a good,” said Poppa Mia. “It’s good!”
“Yes, it’s good,” said Momma Mia. “But we have too many orders. People are asking for takeout.”
“We need a delivery boy,” said Poppa Mia.
“I know,” said Momma Mia.
“Do you know any good boys?” he asked.
“What about Peppi Roni?” asked Momma Mia.
“Perfecto!” said Poppa Mia. “I like that name. It has lots of spice! You see this round slice of meat? It’s very spicy. I’m going to name it after him.”
“That’s a great!” said Momma Mia.
“It’s not a great,” said Poppa Mia. “It’s great!”
Pepi Ronni started delivering pizzas all over town. One day he had a big stack of pizzas. He put them in his bicycle basket and started delivering them from house to house. The pizzas stretched high into the sky. It was a heavy load. Pepi Ronni had to stop for a rest. He put the stack of pizzas on the ground. The stack was so high it started to lean over. Pepi Ronni took a nap. The sun was very hot. When he awoke, the pizza was spoiled. It smelled terrible and the crust was stale. Pepi Ronni left the pizza. It is still there to this day. Many tourists come to Pisa to see it. They call it the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I guess Italians spell pizza different.
The Tent Caterpillar
There was a caterpillar that liked to go camping. He enjoyed fishing and swimming. He enjoyed tanning and basking in the sun. He loved the great out of doors. The problem was that everyone loved him. Of course it’s nice to be popular. Everyone loves to be loved. But this was a different kind of love. You see the animals loved how he tasted. He was simply delicious. It just wasn’t safe for him to lie on the beach. He needed to find a safe place to bask in the sun.
“What seems to be the problem?” asked the therapist.
“I’m not sure I belong here,” complained the caterpillar.
“Why not?” asked the therapist. “You seem pretty popular with everyone to me.”
“That’s just the problem,” complained the caterpillar. “Everyone loves me.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked the therapist. “Don’t you want to be loved?”
“You don’t understand,” said the caterpillar. “They don’t love me for my mind. They love me for my body. They just want to eat me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said the therapist. “You need to get away from it all. You need to go camping. Have you ever thought of climbing a tree and pitching a tent?”
“Sure,” said the therapist. “Just be yourself and no one will bother you. Your trouble is you’re trying too hard to fit in. You just need to be yourself. I mean you are a tent caterpillar, aren’t you?”
“Why, yes I am,” the caterpillar agreed.
“So why don’t you pitch a tent?”
That night the caterpillar went into his cocoon. No longer would he try to win a popularity contest. No longer would he try being everyone’s favorite. From now on, he would just be himself. The truth is he was shy by nature. He didn’t like being around a lot of people. He preferred to be on his own. It wasn’t that he was anti-social. He was quite friendly in his way. He just preferred to be independent.
The other caterpillars set up their tents on the ground. But the tent caterpillar had other ideas. He preferred to get a way from it all. He decided to pitch his tent way up in the trees. It was really no trouble. He didn’t even have to unroll his sleeping bag. He just crawled into the sleeping bag and unrolled himself. He had no use for bug spray. Bugs never seemed to bug other bugs. He didn’t even need a lantern. The fireflies would give him all the light he needed. He could read from the light of the glowworms and fireflies. He was not afraid to be different anymore. He had learned to depend on himself. He was a happy camper.
There was once a little toad. He was too short by half to reach the tabletop. He could never reach the food, however hard he tried. He was always going hungry. Other toads had loads, but he could never get his fill. While the others got fat, he got leaner. The big fat toads would just laze around. They were too well fed to do any work. They preferred leaving the work to others. They took advantage of the tiny toad. When they said jump, he said, ‘How high?’ They got him to bring them their food, but he got nothing. The fat ones were getting fatter and the lean were getting leaner. The fatter the toads got, the idler they became. The lean toad was left with all the chores, which really was quite a chore. He just kept getting leaner and leaner through all the exercise. The leaner he got, the lighter he was on his feet. He could jump quite high. Some even called him jumpy. The fatter toads loved to see him jump. They were always putting him to work.
“When we say jump, you say how high, “ they ordered.
“But I do all the work,” he complained. “What do I get out of this?”
“If you’re a good little toad, we won’t eat you,” they replied.
“But the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting bigger,” he protested.
“That’s because we’re getting fatter and you’re getting leaner,” said the toad that ate the mother load.
“And I can’t even see over the table,” he complained.
“That’s because you’re getting shorter, while we’re getting taller,” said the fattest of the toads.
It just wasn’t fair. The little toad was always being left out. He was a victim of the class system. The idle consumed, while the little guy did all the work. He was tired of being the little guy. He was fed up.”
The other toads were getting fatter. They were becoming old and ugly. They were getting warts and wrinkles all over. The little guy was gaining popularity. He was making more friends. The other animals really respected him. They could see how hard he worked. They knew he did most of the work. They wanted to help. Some of them even offered advice.
A frog was relaxing under an umbrella. She liked to sit in the shade. She liked staying where it was cool. Besides, he liked to avoid the sun. He didn’t want to get wrinkles. Suddenly, an idea struck her.
“Toad,” she said. “I have an idea.”
“What is it?” asked the toad.
“You’ve been going hungry for weeks, haven’t you?” she asked.
“Yes,” said the toad.
“And you can’t reach the table, right?” she asked.
“Right,’ he replied.
“And do you know why?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s because the toads don’t have any manners,” he replied.
“You mean they don’t have any table manners,” she argued.
“That’s true,” he replied.
“Why don’t you use an umbrella?” she suggested. “You can use it as a stool. I can still sit under it, but you can use it as a stool.”
After that day, the frog’s umbrella was called a toadstool. It just goes to show you: One man’s umbrella is another man’s stool. Some things serve more than one purpose. There are two ways at looking at everything.
The Traveling Troubadour
There was once a traveling troubadour. He traveled the country far and wide. He played romantic songs on his mandolin. He played for ladies and for lovers. He serenaded couples beneath the stars. He played for newlyweds. He played at the tables of young lovers. He spread love everywhere he went.
One day, the troubadour ran out of love songs. His well of inspiration had dried up. He had no more love in his heart. The problem was he had no love of his own. Everyone he sang for had a love. There were princes and princesses, merchants and maidens. Everyone had a love except him who sang of love.
One day, he heard a voice. It was the most beautiful voice he had ever known. It was the voice of a damsel bathing in the woods. She was singing of absent lovers and forgotten friends. Her song delighted him. He decided to make her his lady. She would be the inspiration of his verse. It was she to whom he would lift his voice in song. His inspiration soon returned. Now he had something to sing about. The damsel would be his muse. She would be the song in his heart. She would be the words on his lips. She would be the melody in his soul.
“Who’s there?” asked the damsel.
“Do not be alarmed, my lady,” said the troubadour. “I mean you no harm.”
“Please, I am naked,” she said. “Hand me my clothes.”
“Fear not,” my lady. “I dare not intrude.”
“Why do you listen to my song,” she asked.
“Because it is beautiful,” he replied.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Only one thing,” he replied. “I wish you to be my muse. Let me dictate my verse to you. Let me raise my voice to you in song. Give wings to my heart. Be the breath of my voice.”
“But I have been given to another,” she protested.
“No matter,” said the troubadour. “You belong to another. But I belong to you. Let me be yours. Let me give your heart to you. Let me dictate my verse to you. Let my song be your heart’s refrain.”
“But I can give you nothing in return,” she protested.
“You have given me so much already,” he said. “You have given me inspiration. You have put a song on my lips. You have given wings to my heart.”
The troubadour never touched the damsel. He did not even hold her hand. Some say he did not even see her face. But she was his lady. He remembered her ever after. She would sing to him in his dreams. At night, they would sport and play. They would even bathe together in the woods. It was in her honor that he sang wherever he roamed. Everyone knew of his love. Never let it be said that the troubadour was without a love.
The Weeping Willow
By Timothy Burns Watson
Once there was a willow tree. It was a weeping willow. It was weeping because it was cursed. A sorceress had placed it under a spell. The word spell has two meanings. You can cast a magic spell. Or you can spell a word. Magic spells are always cast with words. Spell the words right. Then you cast the right spell. The witch had spelled a word. It was a magic word. But she had spelled the word wrong. So she cast the wrong spell. The word she had spelled was ARBADACARBA.
The word ARBADACARBA was misspelled. That is why the weeping willow was weeping. It was living under a curse. The curse was this: He could not plant any roots. He could not settle down. He could not stay in one place. He was doomed to wander. He had to travel the country. He had to travel from town to town. He had to travel the whole world. That is why he was a weeping willow.
“Why are you weeping?” asked the owl. The owl was nesting in the willow.
“I am weeping ’cause I have no roots,” replied the weeping willow.
“Of course you have roots,” said the owl. “You’re a tree.”
“But I have no place. I do not belong. I have no family, no place to settle down. I can’t plant any roots. I am doomed to wander.”
“I see what you mean,” said the owl. “You have roots because you are a tree. But you have no roots because you have no place of your own. You have no family, no home. Poor willow. Now I see why you weep.”
“Take pity on me owl,” said the weeping willow. “You are wise. You are an owl. Advise me. What should I do?”
“Give me some time to think,” said the owl. “I will be back.”
With that the owl flew away. The weeping willow was feeling lonely again. The owl was good company. Without the owl, he was lost. He started feeling sorry for himself. He began to weep and weep and weep. Finally, after so much weeping, he began to rain tears. Then a puddle formed on the ground. Suddenly, his roots started growing. He began to plant roots. His roots began to stretch and grow. They grew far and wide and deep.
The weeping willow had finally planted roots. He had finally settled down. He had finally found a home. Animals began to sport upon his branches. Birds built nests in his foliage. Caterpillars built tents in his canopy. Squirrels made a home in his trunk. Now he had a family. Now he could stop weeping.
Just then the owl appeared. He was a very wise owl. He knew how to help the weeping willow. He knew he had to make him strong. Suffering makes us strong. That is why he flew away. He knew the willow would be lonely. He knew the willow would weep. But the weeping would make him grow. His tears would fall. His roots would grow. He would become strong. He would plant roots. Others would depend on him. Soon he would have a family.
“I have solved your problem,” said the owl.
“How?” asked the weeping willow.
“You were living under a spell. The witch misspelled the magic word. It’s not ARBACADARBA. It’s ABRACADABRA.”
Suddenly a host of animals appeared. Groundhogs, rabbits, mice, and chipmunks all came out of hiding. Winter was over. The forest was teaming with life. More birds came to nest in the willow. More animals came to sport and play. His branches were teaming with life. The spell had been broken. The old witch had misspelled the word. She had spelled it backwards. She always got everything backwards.
The White Swans
Once there was a yogi. He had a long beard and bushy eyebrows. He had bright eyes and a slender nose. He had long, wiry arms. He was very thin. He liked to think. He watched the birds and animals. He watched the rising and setting sun. He watched the waxing and waning moon. He hardly ever slept. He didn’t want to see anything. He had beheld golden dawns. He had seen brilliant rainbows. He had watched fiery sunsets. He had seen crescent moons firsthand. He had watched falling stars. He had seen it all. But he still couldn’t sleep. He didn’t want to miss out on anything.
One day, he saw something new. It was early dawn. He hadn’t slept a wink. At first, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. He thought they were deceiving him. But there was no doubt about it. There in the middle of a pond was a beautiful white swan. It was the first time he had ever seen one.
A woman was standing on the riverbank. She was holding a pitcher in her hand. She was pouring milk into the river. She always came to the river to feed the swans. She knew how much they liked to drink milk. The yogi watched the swans. They swam over to the woman. She poured some water into her hand. She held her hand out to them in an effort to feed them. The swans drank from her hand. The woman smiled. It delighted her to play with the swans. She wished she were a swan herself. She hoped to become one in her next life. After supping on the milk, they swam away. The woman beheld her reflection in the water. Her skin was alabaster white. It was white as the down on the swans. She got up to leave suddenly, waving goodbye to the yogi on the other bank.
The yogi continued to watch the swans. They were drinking from the river. They were separating the milk from the water with their bills. They liked the coolness of the water, but they preferred the taste of the milk. They knew how to separate one from the other. The yogi admired them. He had always tried to separate milk from water in his yogic practice. He had always wanted to drink milk. But he was not as clever as the swans. To him, they tasted the same. He could not tell them apart.
“Observe the yogi,” said the frog.
“I see him,” said the snakes.
“He is not like the swan,” observed the frog. “He cannot separate milk from water.”
“Then he cannot distinguish desire from love,” said the snake.
“Water is of the sun. Milk is of the moon. The sun enhances desire. Moonbeams shower us with love.”
“Milk comes from the moon?” asked the frog.
“Of course,” said the snake. “The moon is made of cheese, is it not?”
“So the swans are drinking the nectar of the moon. They are drinking in its coolness. They are feeding on moonbeam nectar. They are bathing in the shower of love.”
The yogi stood up. He had had enough of sitting. He waded into the river. He cupped his hands and drank. He could taste the water. He could taste the milk. For the first time he could taste the difference. He knew how to separate the two. He knew how to separate nectar from spittle. He knew how to separate gold from dross. He knew how to divide desire from love. He knew how to distinguish wisdom from knowledge. The yogi was wise. For the first time in his life he saw that he was wise. He had seen the light. The dawn had finally dawned on him. The swans had opened his eyes. They had made him see. He was now enlightened. He was a true yogi. He was a true sage.
“Observe the yogi,” said the snake.
“He is like the swan,” said the frog. “He can separate milk from water.”
“Then he is wise,” said the frog.
“How would you know?” asked the snake.
The snake ate the frog.
The Northern Lights
An Inuit band was traveling by night. It was a night of fierce cold. The dogsled was heavy with men and food. The dogs were getting tired. They kept stopping to rest. The men would look up at the stars. They were trying to find their way. But they knew the truth. They had gone astray. Somehow they had missed their town. They had missed Koyukuk altogether. They had passed it by in the black of night.
The women prepared a fire. They cooked the whale meat. The children chewed on the hard meat. Their faces were pale from the cold. But their color was coming back. The fire was making their faces red. And the food was keeping them warm.
The shaman threw some powder on the fire. Flames shot up from the fire. The air filled with sparks. The shaman closed his eyes. He bowed his head low. When he looked up, he made a prophecy.
“We are not lost,” he declared. “We will be shown the way.”
“How do you know?” asked his son.
“The fire has spoken,” said the shaman.
“Fire’s don’t speak,” his son retorted.
“Not to they who will not listen,” the shaman declared.
“Very well,” said the son. “What did the fire say?”
“Respect your elders young man,” said the elder of the tribe.
“Respect?” said the shaman’s son. “You have to earn respect.”
“Then you must earn respect,” said the elder to the shaman’s son. “You will walk alone.”
“You will not listen to the fire,” said the shaman. “You think you know better. So you will walk alone.”
The elder stamped on the fire. The children threw snow on the fire. The women packed the food. They returned to the dogsleds. ‘Mush! Mush!’ said the elder. The dogs sped off. The shaman’s son was left sitting by the fire. He was lonely and cold. He had no fire to speak to him. Now he wished he had listened to the fire.
Many days later, he wandered into town. He face was blue. His lips were chapped. His hands and feet were frostbitten. The shaman carried his son into the igloo. He warmed his hands by the fire. His wife ladled hot soup down his throat. The boy slowly regained his strength. His color soon returned.
“You should have listened to the fire,” said the shaman.
“What did the fire say?” asked the boy.
“It said that we would be guided by the Northern Lights,” the shaman replied.
“Where did the lights come from?” asked the boy.
“From the torches of a search party,” said the shaman.
Now you know what causes the Northern Lights. Whenever an Inuit goes missing, they appear. They are the torches of a search party. They are out looking for one of their own missing bands.
Where in Thunder is the Lightning?
The rain came in torrents. Cotton clouds were spun on the loom. A goddess was making clouds. These were the clothes of the gods. The gods were all in white. They looked radiant. They were all dressed in pure white clouds. The clouds all had a silver lining. The gods were very happy, proud, and beautiful. But a storm was gathering in the heavens. The clouds were turning dark. The gods were no longer happy. A brooding sadness had descended on heaven. The clouds cast their shadows on the deep. It had grown dark. The light had gone out of the valleys. The people had given up their rejoicing.
A storm was gathering in the east. The clouds were sweeping west. No one could move. Most could scarcely even breathe. This was the calm before the storm. All had grown quiet. All had become motionless. The trees had stopped swaying in the breeze. The leaves had ceased their rustling. Even the birds had grown silent.
“We must bring in the harvest,” said the farmer. “The rain will drown the crop.”
“But we can see nothing in the darkness,” said the preacher. “We need some light to go about our work.”
“Pray then, Reverend,” urged the farmer. “Pray for some heavenly light. We can do nothing in the darkness. Please pray for light.”
“But I am afraid to pray for our needs,” said the preacher. “There are so many more needy than ourselves. There are a people in the north without food. They have no harvest at all. Surely our prayers should go out to them first.”
“Why not pray for us both?” the farmer suggested. “Surely there can be no harm in that.”
So the preacher prayed. He prayed and he prayed. But the clouds just kept rolling in. A rumbling could be heard in the heavens. The rolling clouds brought with them hail and rain. The fields were flattened. The crops were spoiled. A great cry was heard in the land. Some thought God had deserted them. Others blamed the preacher. Still others blamed themselves.
All was in darkness. The people were helpless. There was nothing they could do. The harvest would have to wait. Without light, they could see nothing and do nothing. They could not even work in the fields. They were as helpless as lambs in the field.
“Where in thunder is the lightning?” asked the farmer.
“But lightning is a curse,” declared the preacher. “Who prays for lightning? Lightning brings fire and death.”
“Sometimes even a curse is a blessing, father,” said the farmer. What we need more than anything is some light. A fire is just what we need. Pray for some lightning, father. Please won’t you pray?”
So the preacher got down on his knees and prayed. He prayed for lightning. He prayed for fire. Just then, a lightning bolt came down from heaven. A tree burst into flame. It was the burning bush. Soon the whole mountainside erupted in fire. The inferno was spreading. The entire mountain was engulfed in flames. The clouds glowed an angry red. The fields were bathed in an eerie orange light.
Where in thunder id the lightning? There is lightning behind every dark cloud. It may be a curse, but sometimes a curse is a blessing. Pray for rain. But if the rain comes out of season, bring in the harvest. What if there are overcast skies? What if it’s too dark to see in the fields? Then pray for lightning. It may be a curse, but it sometimes a blessing.
Wish for the Moon
Once these was a praying mantis. He always liked to pray. He had so many wishes, so many dreams. He was always dreaming. He always reached for the stars. He even wished for the moon. Everyone though he was crazy. He thought he was aiming too high. They thought the moon was too high. They insisted the stars were beyond their reach.
But the praying mantis kept praying. He prayed every night. He got down on his knees. He looked up at the sky. He even reached for the stars. But it was just no good. They were out of reach. But the praying mantis was no quitter. He refused to give up. Instead he wished for the moon. He closed his eyes, bowed his head, and started to pray. He could see himself looking at the moon through a telescope. Again and again he wished for the moon. He wished for the moon for so many moons, he meditated under the same tree for a good week.
Finally, he went away. Many moons passed. No one knew where he was. He was in his workshop. He was busy sawing and measuring. He was busy hammering and banging. He was making a lot of noise. The animals heard the commotion. They wondered what it was, so they all came to see. They followed the sound. It led to a tree. There was a hollow in the tree. They looked inside. They could see him working away. They could see him hammering and sawing.
“What is he making?” asked the badger.
“A ladder,” replied the cat.
“What is it for?” asked the badger.
“He’s reaching for the stars,” explained the skunk.
“He’s wishing for the moon,” the cat suggested.
“How can he reach for the stars?” asked the badger.
“How can he wish for the moon?” asked the skunk.
“It’s far too far,” the cat agreed.
Finally, his work was done. He emerged from the hollow. The animals helped him with the ladder. They carried it together. It was very long. There seemed to be no end to it. The animals were very surprised. They kept scratching their heads.
“Look at the ladder,” said the cat.
“I know,” said the badger. “It just keeps coming.”
“There’s no end to it,” the skunk agreed.
“However did it fit inside the tree?” asked the cat.
“It must have a very nig trunk,” said the badger.
Finally, the procession stopped. It was time to raise the ladder. The animals stretched and pushed. They kept raising it higher and higher. Finally, they stopped. They couldn’t raise it any higher. That was as high as it would go. No one had ever raised anything that high before. Even so, it was still too short. It couldn’t quite reach the stars. It wasn’t even high enough to reach the moon.
But the praying mantis refused to give up. He started praying again. He aimed for the stars. He even wished upon a star. Suddenly, a star fell from the sky. The praying mantis was blessed. He had wished upon a falling star. That’s very lucky. The star answered his wish. It fell faster and faster. It came nearer and nearer. He had reached for the stars, but now a star was reaching him, coming closer and closer. Finally, it fell through the air and dropped right at his feet. There was a loud bang. Some of the animals fell over. There was a lot of fire and smoke. When the smoke cleared, they saw the star. It was glowing. It glowed brightly and then went dim.
The animals started chattering. Some started dancing. Others started singing. They had a big party. They couldn’t believe their luck. The praying mantis was a hero. He had wished for the moon for so many moons, his wish had come true. No one thought he could do it. He had reached for the stars and in the end a star had reached out to him. Dreams do come true. They just never come true quite like you expect.
5 True Stories
A Man of Few Words
For a writer, Victor Hugo was a man of few words. He was the strong silent type. One letter from Hugo to his publisher read, “?” That was it. No words, just a question mark. The letter of response from the publisher was equally curt. All it said was, “!” No words, just an exclamation mark.
One day, he saw a man abusing a woman. The woman was very angry. She jumped on the man. She scratched and bit him. The man called a policeman. He ordered the policeman to arrest the woman. The policeman took the man for a gentleman and did as he was told. The policeman was wrong to do so. He should have questioned some witnesses and conducted a proper investigation. A well-dressed man is not always a gentleman. Appearances can deceive. Victor Hugo witnessed the scene. He saw the whole thing. He followed the trio to the police station. He decided to intervene. At the police station, he spoke up for the woman.
“What seems to be the trouble here?” asked Monsieur Hugo.
“This woman has attacked this fine gentleman,” the police officer explained.
“That is not how it happened,” M. Hugo protested.
“You wish to defend this strumpet?” the officer asked, amazed.
“Do you know who I am?” M. Hugo demanded.
“I couldn’t care less,” the officer replied.
“I am Victor Hugo,” the writer declared.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, Monsieur,” the officer said.
“But the woman is in the wrong!” the plaintiff protested.
“Not according to M. Hugo,” the officer objected.
“Bon Merci,” the woman said, thanking Hugo.
Hugo was very moved by this incident. It remained in his memory. The woman became the model for his Fantine. Fantine was the heroine of his novel “Les Miserables”. In the novel, Victor Hugo’s hero, Jean Valjean, was in jail for nearly 20 years. Hugo himself spent nearly 20 yeaqrs in exile. When he returned, he was given a hero’s welcome. Thousands of people gathered on the street. His book “Les Miserables” was a great success. It became a bible of social justice. Yankee soldiers carried it into battle in the American Civil War.
Victor Hugo wrote many words. But in real life, he was a man of few words. He was very secretive. He even belonged to a secret society. Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, Claude Debussy, Jean Cocteau were all Grand Masters of the same society.
Nostradamus the Doctor
Most people think Michel de Nostradame was just a prophet. The truth is that he was far more than that. He was an astrologer in the royal court. He was also a physician. He was something of an apothecary, an herbal doctor. As a physician, he was highly successful. He cured hundreds of people of the plague. He studied the symptoms carefully. He noticed that the patients usually suffered from nosebleeds. He thought the disease entered through the nose. His idea was to relax the nerves of the nose and throat. He wanted to relieve the congestion. He wanted to open the breathing passages. He worked on a cure day and night. He had an assistant helping him. Finally, he had the recipe for the cure. He told his assistant what he needed.
“They are dying, master,” said the assistant. “What are we going to do?”
“We will cure them of course,” said the doctor.
“But how, master?” the assistant demanded. “This is a terrible scourge.”
“I want you to boil the branch of the greenest Cyprus-wood,” the good doctor instructed. “And make a serum.”
“How much do we need, master?” asked the servant.
“One ounce,” Nostradamus replied.
“What else do we need, master?” he asked.
“Six ounces of Iris of Florence, three ounces of cloves, three drams of sweetflag, and three drams of ligna aloes. Boil them until you have a mixture.”
“Very well, master, anything else?”
“Take some crimson-colored roses, two or three hundred is best. They must be freshly picked at dawn. Crush them and add them to the mix.
“Is that all?”
“No, I want you to make small pats out of them, “ Nostradamus instructed. “Then leave them out in the sun to dry.”
The medicine was a potpourri. It had a strong smell. Nostradamus placed it under the patient’s tongue. It sweetened the breath. It relieved congestion. It stopped the nosebleeds. It relieved stomachaches. The patient could begin to breathe with ease. It was an effective cure. Hundreds of patients recovered under the doctor’s care.
Nostradamus was an extraordinary man. He knew much about life and death. He even predicted his own death. He wrote:
“On my return from an embassy, with a gift from the King, my affairs in order. Nothing more shall happen, I shall have gone to God, near to my parents. Friends and brothers of my blood will find me dead beside my bed and bench.” The prophet was found dead by his bench. It was the morning of July 2nd. There was an astrology book on his desk. It showed the sun at Saturn, the planet associated with death, at the hour of his death.
Nostradamus was a great prophet. He could see the future. He predicted many things. He even knew what his next meal would be. He was also a great doctor. Once, when he had to treat a patient in the country. It was Lord Florinville’s mother. Lord Florinville was very kind. He wanted Nostradamus to feel at home. They talked about many things. Once, they were crossing the courtyard. There were two little pigs. One was black., the other white. Lord Florinville decided to test the guest. He wanted to see if he was really a prophet.
“They say you are clever,” said Lord Florinville.
“Some may say so,” Nostradamus replied.
“Then tell me the fate of those two pigs,” urged Florinville.
“We shall eat the black one,” said the prophet.
“And the white one?” asked Florinville.
“The white one shall be eaten by a wolf,” Nostradamus replied.
Lord Florinville decided to play a joke on Nostradamus. He told the cook to roast the white pig. Later, they sat down to supper.
“Are you enjoying the pork?” asked Florinville.
“It is very fine,” Nostradamus replied.
“Is it the white pig or the black?” asked Florinville.
“It is the black one as I said,” Nostradamus replied.
“Then you are a false prophet,” Florinville joked.
“Perhaps you should call the cook,” Nostradamus suggested.
“Very well,” said Florinville.
Lord Florinville rang the bell. The cook was afraid. He thought Lord Florinville was unhappy with the food. The cook had reason to worry.
“Are you dining on the black pig?” asked Florinville.
“Yes,” the cook replied fearfully. “The pig was the black.”
“What happened to the black pig?” asked Florinville.
“I prepared the white pig,” said the cook.
“Yes,” said Florinville.
“When I returned I found a tame wolf. He had eaten the white pig, so I prepared the black one. Is it not to your likeing, sire?”
“It will do very well,” said Florinville, slightly vexed. “You may go.”
If you are good, people will always test you. People are envious of talent. Nostradamus was very patient. He let Lord Florinville have his little joke. But Nostradamus got the last laugh. Suffer fools gladly. The joke will soon be on them.
Shelley’s Last Voyage
The poet Shelley was an interesting man. He was rebellious and adventurous. He was expelled from school as a youth. On the day of his expulsion, he decided to leave something to be remembered by. He left a highly flammable chemical compound in the fireplace of the masters’ lounge. The poet loved creating reactions, especially chemical reactions. During the meeting, the fireplace burst into flame. Later, he was expelled from Oxford University for writing a controversial paper. The professors didn’t like the paper. They were offended by it.
The poet was fascinated by the power of nature. He found it exciting. He enjoyed flying kites and sending up hot air balloons. He loved danger and was exhilarated by fear. One day, he decided to go sailing. He was in Italy at the time. He took a couple of friends with him. A storm was coming up when they set out. Shelley could see dark clouds on the horizon. His friends tried to warn him, but he wouldn’t listen. The captain of the other ship chased after them. He called out to them through his megaphone. Shelley’s friend Charles Vivian tried to turn the ship around. Shelley scolded him severely. No one knows what happened exactly, but we can imagine how the conversation went.
“Come about!” shouted Captain Vivian. “Come about!”
“Turn the boat about!” Vivian advised.
“Come about and I’ll keelhaul you!” Shelley shouted.
“But there’s a storm!” the crewmember shouted. “Do you trying to kill us all?”
“Have you no sense of adventure, man?” Shelley demanded.
“This is not adventure, you fool!” Vivian protested. “This is suicide.”
“How man men know the rage of the sea?” Shelley demanded.
“I’m not the least curious about it myself,” said the first mate.
“You’re a land-lover if I ever saw one!” Shelley observed.
“Bring the ship about, I tell you!” Vivian commanded.
“Over my dead body!” Shelley retorted.
Shelley was furious. His rage could not be contained. He threw his friend into the stern of the boat and took charge of the helm. He steered the ship straight into the storm. The boat capsized and the three men aboard were drowned. Three days later Shelley’s body washed up on the beach. Shelley’s friend, Lord Byron, found his body. He held a funeral ceremony for him on the beach. A funeral pyre was built and the poet’s body was cremated. Later, Lord Byron discovered the poet’s heart in the ashes. He picked it up and threw it into the sea.
Byron was with their mutual friend Trelawney at the time. Trelawney uncovered Shelley’s skull in the ashes. He crushed it with his walking stick. He knew Byron used skulls as drinking flasks. He did not want Byron to keep the dead poet’s skull.
Show Me an Honest Man
There are many stories about Plato. He seems to have been a very upright man. One of his friends was very honest too. His name was Diogenes Laertius. Diogenes used to run through the streets of Athens barefooted. He always carried a lantern with him as he ran. He would hold the lantern up to people’s faces and shout: “Show me an honest man!” The people would then shrink back in fear.
He was friends with the philosopher Plato. Plato was quite fond of Diogenes. One day, Diogenes visited Plato. Plato was in the middle of a meeting. Diogenes didn’t care. He wanted to test Plato’s patience. He ran around the room with muddy feet. He ran all over the rugs and sofas, muddying them.
“I tread upon the pride of Plato!” he shouted with glee.
“Yes, and with the pride of Diogenes,” Plato wisely rebuked.
“I’m not proud,” said Diogenes.
“Then why try to wound mine?” Plato asked. “You are obviously prouder than me. You think you are more righteous. You think you are less vain and proud. But that is just your pride.”
“It is well you have scolded me,” Diogenes replied. “I deserve it.”
“Not to worry,” Plato said. “You know you are always welcome.”
“You mean I can come again?”
“Of course,” Plato replied. “You can come anytime, but first you have to clean my rugs and furniture.”
Diogenes was proud of his friend Plato. He knew how honest he was. He never tried Plato’s patience again. They became very good friends. But Diogenes was not so proud of his fellow citizens. He kept searching for an honest man. He kept running through the streets with his lantern, searching, desperately seeking, but never finding what he was looking for.
Diogenes was very determined. He believed he was capable of accomplishing anything. He believed the human will was all-powerful. He was a very unusual man. One day, he decided to use his will to end his life. He believed such a thing was possible. ‘All I have to do is hold my breath,’ he thought. He took a deep breath. He held it deep and long. His face turned red, then purple. He grew faint and then collapsed. No one will ever forget the honest man. He always delivered more than he promised.
Socrates was a brave man. He stood up for what he believed in. He did not believe what everyone else believed. He had his own mind. He did not believe in the Greek gods. He taught that there was only one Creator. He started teaching this view to the youth. The rulers of Athens did not like this one bit. Athens was named after Pallas Athena. She was just one of the many gods they believed in. The philosopher was making them look foolish. They did not approve of his monotheistic belief. They believed in many gods. Their religion was polytheistic. They accused him of corrupting the youth. This was a capital crime. If he were found guilty, he would be sentenced to death. In the end, Socrates was tried and found guilty. His sentence was to drink the sap from the poison hemlock tree. Socrates accepted his sentence with dignity, though he knew he was innocent of wrongdoing. He spent the night in a prison cell awaiting his execution. His followers came to see him. They tried to convince him to flee. He refused. The conversation went something like this.
“Master, why don’t you leave Athens?” a disciple asked. “We will escort you. Come away with us.”
“I am a citizen of Athens,” Socrates objected. “I must obey its laws.”
“But you will die, master,” the disciple protested.
“Everyone dies,” Socrates replied. “I am a citizen of Athens. I must live according to its laws. If I disobey the Athenian law, what kind of example will I set? There will be anarchy chaos, no order, no obedience, only contempt for the law.
“But master,” the disciple objected. “We are afraid for you. We don’t want you to die.”
“I am not afraid,” Socrates insisted. “I am even glad. I am going to a better place than this. I am going to meet many old friends and loved ones in paradise.”
“But you don’t have to die, master,” the disciple argued. “There is still time for you to escape.”
“I die for freedom. I die so that others might be at liberty to speak. If I run, what hope do I give them?”
“You are brave, master,” observed the disciple.
“My accusers insist they know what is good. Yet, they do wrong. They do this in ignorance. No one does wrong willingly. They think they know but they do not know. I know that I do not know. That is the difference between us. There is a gulf as wide as the ocean between justice and injustice. The difference lies in knowing and not knowing.”
“You are wise, master,” the disciple said, bowing. “You have taught me well. Humility is justice.”
The next morning, Socrates woke up. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shinning and the birds were singing. It was just like paradise. Socrates was no longer afraid. He knew it was like this everyday in paradise. He was happy to go there. He wanted to meet his old friends and relatives. He wanted to meet God face to face.”
Some men came to get him. Socrates did not resist. He walked proudly. He did not look like a criminal. It was his accusers who looked guilty. Socrates sat before them. He looked upon them without resentment or fear. He took the cup filled with poison. He emptied the cup. The poison worked quickly. He looked up at the sky. He smiled at the sight of birds in flight. Then his soul took flight.
The Unwelcome Disciple
Confucius was very enlightened. He understood human nature very well. He could see into the hearts of men. He knew who was good. He recognized who did not measure up. ‘Thinking oneself good is not good,’ he thought. ‘Better to consider oneself bad.’
One day Confucius introduced a new disciple to his followers. His followers did not take to the stranger well. They had heard many bad things about him. They heard he had been to prison. They did not want him in their company. They shunned and ignored him. They complained about him bitterly.
“Master,” said one disciple. “Why are you admitting this new one?” Has he not been to prison? Does he not have a criminal record?”
“Though he has been to prison, he has done no wrong,” said Confucius.
“But he has been jailed,” the disciple protested. “He is therefore a criminal.”
“Is everyone who goes to prison a criminal?” asked Confucius.
“By necessity. Why else would they go?”
“And are none wrongly accused?” he asked.
“In some rare cases,” the disciple replied.
“And this is such a case,” Confucius retorted.
“How do you know?”
“Are political prisoners bad?” asked Confucius. “And what about prisoners of conscience? Are they bad too?”
“No, not at all,” said the disciple.
“Then, you have erred in your judgment,” said Confucius. “Perhaps you should go to jail too.”
“Perhaps I have misjudged him,” the disciple confessed.
“Once more he is wrongly accused,” Confucius said. “See how easy it is?”
“How can we redress the wrong?” the disciple asked.
“Though he has been to prison, he has done no wrong,” said the master. “Such a man is worthy of a wife.”
So saying, Confucius gave his only daughter in marriage to the stranger. The stranger was delighted. A man of exceeding virtue believed in him. A great man held him in high esteem. He therefore began to believe in himself. He began to have faith in himself. ‘If Confucius likes me, “I must be worthy,’ he thought to himself. He would now endeavor to keep his affairs in order. He became a good husband, a good father, a good citizen, a good patriot. Confucius had made him believe in himself.
The Real Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s first plays were comedies. They were called “A Comedy of Errors” and “Love’s Labor’s Lost”. They were performed for the first time at a law school. The law school was called Gray’s Inn Law School. The plays were performed in the dining hall. We are told the real Shakespeare came from Stratford-Upon-Avon. He spelled his name William Shakesper. He never attended Gray’s Inn Law School. He couldn’t. He wasn’t from the noble class. He was from the merchant class. His father was a grain merchant. Only nobleman could go to university and law school. Sir Francis Bacon went to Gray’s Inn. Edward was 10 years older, but they were good friends. They were related, so they had known each other since childhood.
Edward de Vere was a clever man. He graduated from Cambridge University at age 14. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cambridge. He graduated from Oxford University at age 16. He got a Master’s Degree from Oxford. He then went to Gray’s Inn Law School to study law. It is known that both Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere performed plays at the Inns of Court. In fact, Edward was in charge of the Queen’s theatrical performances for the Court. They most likely worked together. The plan may have been conceived in a conversation like this:
“You’re an exceptional playwright,” Sir Francis observed. “I love your plays.”
“Thank you,” Edward replied. “I appreciate the compliment.”
“I want you to join my secret writing guild,” Sir Francis declared.
“What’s your club called?” asked Edward.
“The Honourable Order of the Knights of the Helmet,” Sir Francis replied.
“An interesting proposal,” said Edward. “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to write for us,” Sir Francis replied. “I want you to write for the Queen’s propaganda ministry.”
“I’d be delighted,” Edward declared.
“It’s very dangerous work though, Sir Francis cautioned. “Pallas Athena is the patron goddess of our order. She wears the helmet of invisibility. You have to kiss her helmet and wear it when you join.”
“That would make me invisible,” Edward observed.
“Exactly,” Sir Francis replied. “You would be one of the invisibles. You would have to write under a pen name. I was thinking Shake-speare because Pallas is called the “Spear-Shaker” who always shakes her spear at the serpents of ignorance and vice. How about it?”
“What a great name!” Edward agreed. “What about my first name?”
“How about ‘William’?” Sir Francis suggested. “‘William’ is ‘Wilhem’ in German, meaning helmet.”
Edward de Vere was highly regarded as an Elizabethan playwright, yet not even a single play survives under his name. When Edward died, King James had several Shakespeare plays performed at his funeral. When Edward’s wife died, King James had several more plays performed in her honor. It is a great mystery that has survived for four hundred years. One day, the truth will be known.
Look at the composite portrait comparison of Edward de Vere and William Shakespeare. I have reversed the aging process on William Shakespeare, who is around fifty years of age. I have given him back his hair, since he has gone bald with middle age. I have also given him a haircut. He became quite a hippy at middle age. He was much cleaner cut when he was 36. You can see what he looked like at age 36 in the portrait of Edward de Vere. He fell out of favor in the Court. He lost caste. So he became quite bohemian in dress and appearance. Would the real Shakespeare please take his bow. It is the 400th anniversary of Edward de Vere’s death, after all. Let’s give him a proper burial.
Who Created Frankenstein’s Monster?
Most people think Dr. Frankenstein created a monster. Actually, it was Mary Shelley. Mary Shelley was married to Percey Bysshe Shelley, the poet. Mary had a sister named Clair. Lord Byron was their good friend. They even traveled together to Switzerland. One night, they stayed in an old Swiss castle. It was on a beautiful lake. The castle was very mysterious and eerie. It was very gloomy and dark at night. They heard strange noises in the night. They all imagined it was haunted. That gave them an idea. They decided to stay up late and tell each other ghost stories. They even turned it into a competition. The made an agreement. The person with the best story had to write a novel about it. No one knows what really happened that night. However, the conversation might have gone something like this:
“The castle is so gloomy,” Mary observed.
“Do you think it’s haunted?” asked her sister Clair.
“I’m sure of it,” Mary replied. “I have goose flesh all over.”
“I saw something move when I was in the room over there alone,” Percey announced.
“What do you think it was?” asked Lord Byron.
“I know what it was,” the poet declared. “It wasn’t human. It was a phantom.”
“Stop!” Clair insisted. “You’re frightening me.”
“It feels like someone’s watching us,” Mary said.
“Someone is,” Byron declared. “The castle’s haunted.”
“I know,” Percey Shelley announced. “Why don’t we tell some ghost stories?”
“That’s a wonderful idea,” Byron agreed. “Why don’t you go first, Mary?”
“Alright,” Mary agreed. “I have a good story. I’ve been dreaming it up all day.”
“Oh my goodness,” Clair said, sighing. “I’ll never sleep tonight.”
Mary began her frightening tale about a doctor. The doctor wanted people to live forever, she explained. He wanted to raise people from the dead. He wanted to bring people back to life, so he went to the graveyard. Many people were buried there. The doctor was a eugenicist. He wanted to create a superhuman being. The graveyard was filled with different types of people. In life, some had been scientists, others doctors. Some had been very intelligent, while others were laborers without much education. The laborers were very strong. The doctor took body parts from different individuals. It was a ghoulish business. When he had everything he needed, he bundled it onto a wagon. He then drove back to his castle.
He worked through the night in his laboratory. He stitched the body parts together. He attached the head to the lifeless body. It was a fine specimen of a man, very strong and with a large brain capacity. There was a storm raging that night. Thunder rang out and lightning bolts struck the earth. The lightening illuminated the trees and hills outside. The objects of the night were silhouetted like ghostly forms against the bright canopy of flashing light. The wind howled like a pack of mad wolves baying at the moon. Suddenly, the lightning struck a lightning rod. The electrical current traveled down a wire and passed through the being. The corpse shook under the force of the jolt. It opened its eyes. It sat up. It looked into the eyes of its creator. Dr. Frankenstein had created a monster.
Korean Folk Tales
Korea’s Robin Hoods
In the Choson dynasty, Korea was called Choson. It had a caste system. A caste system ranks people according to family and bloodline. If your ancestors were nobles, you were considered noble by birthright. If your ancestors were peasants, you would stay on the farm. The castes consisted of nobles, merchants, laborers, and farmers. It was impossible for a peasant to rise in society. It was just as hard for a nobleman to fall from his high horse. The castes were fixed. Brides were selected according to caste. Marriages were arranged. They called it a marriage of convenience, but it was not convenient. Marriage that prevents a union of love is far from convenient.
The nobles were called Yangban. They held a lot of power. They often abused that power. They held power over women. A nobleman could have any woman he pleased. He could even have a peasant’s wife. The noblemen were the lawmakers. They made the law. Unfortunately, they just as often broke the law.
The peasants were called Chonmin. They knew that many nobles were corrupt. They knew that they made the laws and broke the laws. This made the peasants angry. The peasants decided to fight back. They devised a plan. They decided to steal back their stolen dignity. They knew the nobles had stolen their pride, so they decided to steal it back. They decided to steal from those who were rich in pride to give to those who were poor in pride. They were just like Robin hoods, stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
The peasants began performing masked dances. These dances were called Talchum. The dances gave them a chance to poke fun at the nobles. They made fun of the lawmakers, priests, and magistrates. They made them look foolish and ridiculous. They would make fun scenes like this one.
“You are a lawmaker, are you not master?” asked the servant.
“Of course, that is my title, is it not?” asked the master.
“Does making the law also permit you to break it?” asked the peasant.
“Naturally, if I have the power to make the law, I certainly have the power to break it.”
“So it is legal for you to make and break the law?” the peasant inquired.
“I am the law,” said the lawmaker.
“Did the bribe you accepted yesterday break the law?” he asked.
“That was not a bribe,” he said. “That was a donation.”
“Very well then, master…” he said.
The peasant helps himself to his master’s purse.
“Hey there!” he exclaimed. “Where are you going with that, you thief?”
“What’s the problem, master?” asked the servant.
“You’re stealing from me!”
“I’m not stealing, master. I’m accepting your donation
The audience at the masked dance was from all classes. The peasants could laugh at the nobles. The nobles could laugh at themselves. Everyone could have a good laugh. The Talchum performers never removed their masks. They kept them on throughout the performance. The nobles never knew who these Robin Hoods were. When the dance ended, they disappeared into the forest. Then they returned to their villages. They escaped the punishment. They avoided the laws of the lawmakers. The righteous outlaw makes his own laws. He never breaks his covenant with God.
The ABCs of King Sejong
King Sejong we are told invented the Korean language. In truth, he oversaw the project. Before that Koreans used Chinese characters. But they were hard to learn. Most of the peasants were illiterate. One day a peasant was brought before the king. He had not paid his taxes. The king asked him why. The peasant replied that it was because he could not read. The king took pity on the peasant. He realized the poor man was not at fault.
The king decided to invent a language for the common man. He worked with a team of scholars. They wanted a language that was simple and scientific. Each syllable would be represented by symbols that represented humankind’s relationship to the cosmos. In short, each syllable represented humankind’s relationship to heaven and earth. The glad sounds pointed toward heaven. The gloomy sounds pointed toward earth. Many of the syllables showed how the letters were to be pronounced. It was a brilliant language, very scientific.
Sadly, the nobles were unhappy with the language. They wanted to retain their power. They feared the new language might empower the peasants. They wanted to keep the peasants down. They worried about a revolt. The nobles brought their case before the king. No one knows what was said, but we can imagine how the conversation might have gone.
“I must protest, your Highness,” said a nobleman. “This language is unsuitable.”
“Why, pray tell,” the king protested. “It is so much easier to learn and it is ours.”
“The peasants are low born,” the nobleman explained. “Should scholars and peasants share the same pen?”
“Yes, and the same ink and paper,” the king insisted. “It is my duty to unite the kingdom.”
“You seem to forget who rules the country,” the nobleman retorted.
“No you seem to forget. It is not you or I who rules the land, but God. You and I only misrule. It is God who rules.”
“If you insist on stubbornly maintaining your will, we will revolt,” said the nobleman.
“It is not my will, but God’s. Revolt if you must, but God stands firm.”
“Your language will not survive. The pens will not write. We will see to it that the ink does not flow.”
“Beware that the peasants do not use your blood to write with,” the king warned.
Writing one’s name in red ink is bad luck. The king’s last statement could be taken as a curse. As promised, the nobles launched a revolt. They dispatched the secret police to watch the people. Anyone caught writing was arrested. The language was suppressed. The peasants were offered hope only to have it snatched away. For five hundred years, Hangul was nearly forgotten. Many kings tried to reintroduce it without success. Then finally the pens were given ink. The people were now united under a common language. No longer were they prisoners of the caste system. Now they could be educated. Now they were free to rise. Choson was evolving. The old feudal society was dying. Democracy was being reborn.
Korea is now part of a global society. The Korean language is for the Korean people. English is for the world’s citizens. As with the citizens of other countries, Koreans must learn both languages. The people of the world are now uniting under a common tongue. How things change in heaven and earth. This is the time of renewal of heaven and earth.
The Chosen One
Each morning, Yoonhee woke to the sound of drums, cymbals and gongs. She could hear her grandmother’s voice rising above the sound of the instruments. She loved the rhythms and the melodies. When she awoke, she’d come in to watch. Her grandmother would be dressed in a colorful red Hanbok and would be whirling like a dervish. Her grandmother was a shaman. What Korean people call a Mudang. That morning her mother was performing a Gut. A Gut is a half séance and half exorcism. First, the shaman contacts the ancestors of the participant. Then, she performs a ritual to honour the ancestors. She also receives instructions from the ancestors. Often they try to offer guidance to their descendents. Once the ancestral spirits are satisfied, they go away. After that, there are no more disturbances. The descendent is now at peace. The Gut ceremony has brought them calm.
But Yoonhee was not feeling very clam. Her mind was disturbed. She couldn’t sleep and tossed and turned throughout the night. That morning she skipped breakfast. She wandered off in her nightgown and slippers. She didn’t even wear a coat.
Her mother called her for breakfast, but she didn’t come. Her mother searched the house, but she was nowhere to be found. Her mother called and called, but there was no response. Finally, her mother found her boots and coat. She was worried because it was cold. She was afraid Yoonie might catch her death of cold. Her mother put on her coat and went out to look for her.
Yoonie walked like she was in a trance. She walked up the mountain behind the house. Her ancestors were buried there. There were burial mounds everywhere. She often visited her grandfather’s grave. She liked to bring him offerings of food and rice wine. She also liked to pour rice wine on his grave. She remembered how much he liked it. Yoonie had a strong urge to speak with him that morning. She wandered up the hill and sat down by his grave. She called his name and began chanting. She remembered one of her grandmother’s chants for calling a spirit. To her surprise, her grandfather answered.
“Grandfather, grandfather, I summon you from the hill beyond. Return to the world of the living. You are needed. We call for guidance.”
“Dear Yoonie,” he replied. “What is it, my dear? You seem troubled.”
“I am grandfather, truly,” she pleaded. “I can’t find any peace in my life.”
“You are acting strangely, my girl. Wandering off without a coat. You’ll catch your death in this cold.”
“I know, grandfather, but I can’t help it,” she said. “”My mind is not at peace.”
“My girl, you have what we call sibling Shinbyong, the spiritual sickness. You are confused and your mind is troubled.”
“But why, grandfather?” she asked. “Have I done something wrong?”
“Not at all, my girl,” he said. “You are receiving the call, that’s all.”
“Yes, my child. You are being called by your ancestors to be a shaman.”
“You mean I am to be a shaman like my grandmother?” she asked.
“Yes, my dear. Now run along home. Go and warm yourself by the fire.”
Yoonie ran like the wind. She flew through the woods like a bird. She wended her way through the trees and sped toward the cottage. Her grandmother was waiting for her. She knew she had the calling. When Yoonhee entered the cottage, her grandmother dressed her in warm clothes and put a coat over her. She sat her down by the fire. She painted her cheeks with pig’s blood. She placed a pig’s head on Yoonhee’s head. They chanted and sang together. Yoonhee knew she had been chosen. She was the chosen one.
The Faithful Sisters
Chang-hwa was the fairest girl of her day. Her sister, Hong-nyung, was also very lovely. No one who saw them could forget their faces. The memory of their beauty never faded. They were blessed with good looks. The blessing came at a great price. They could never be happy.
Their mother died when they were very young. Their father neither ate nor slept. They could hear him at night. He would wander the halls at night. Nothing could fill the emptiness in his heart. He was so lonely he could bear it no longer. He needed a companion. He needed someone, anyone to make him forget. He decided he was going to remarry.
The girls didn’t like their stepmother very much. She was stern and far too strict. She never let them laugh or play. She set them to doing chores. The stepmother’s three sons were very idle. They never lifted a finger. The girls had to mend their socks and knit them mittens. They washed all their clothes and put them away for them. They even packed their lunches.
When Chang-hwa turned sixteen, she planned to marry, but her stepmother frowned on the idea. She didn’t want to give the young girl a dowry. She decided to get rid of Chang-hwa instead. She schemed and plotted. She snatched the family heirloom from the jewely box. Then she hid it in a secret place. Then she hatched the most terrible lie. She went to her husband with the story.
“Husband, I hate to be a burden,” she said.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Your dutiful daughter has let you down,” she revealed.
“How?” asked Chang-hwa’s father.
“She has eloped with a stranger,” she replied. “And she has run off with the family heirloom.”
“I can’t believe it!” said the father.
“See for yourself,” she urged.
Chang-hwa’s father was furious. His daughter had brought shame upon the family. He agreed that she had to be punished. That night Chang-hwa’s stepbrother visited her in her room. He told her he was taking her to see his aunt. Chang-hwa was overjoyed. She would do anything to get away from her wicked old stepmother. She packed her things and was ready to go in no time.
The horse and carriage sped along. The air was fresh. Chang-hwa leaned her head out the window. The breeze was cool. Just then they came to a bridge. Her stepbrother suddenly pushed her out the door of the carriage. Chang-hwa fell into the pond. Inable to swim, she soon went under.
Things were never the same for Hong-nyung. She missed her sister terribly. One day, she went out for a walk. As she walked along the riverbank, she saw a beautiful bluebird. She asked the bird to take her to her sister. The bluebird agreed and led the way. Hong-nyung came to a little pond. There her sister suddenly rose in the mist and came toward her. Chang-hwa told her sister the whole story. She made her promise to take good care of their father. But Hong-nyung could not be consoled. She could not bear the injustice. She also drowned herself in the river.
Chnag-hwa and Hong-nyung were no longer seen in the village. But no one could ever forget them. The memory of their faces haunted everyone. No one could forget how lovely they were. Happiness was a thing of the past. The villagers carried on with their work, but there was no joy in their hearts. Living and working were filled with drudgery. They desperately needed a change. They wanted to make a new policy. They wanted a new mayor, someone who could bring some life to the village. Everyone came out to hear the candidates’ speeches. They all promised more fairs. They promised to plant more flowers, to hire more bands. The last candidate to speak swept them away with his speech. He promised them May fairs and October fests, harvest feasts, and winter festivals. The villagers cheered. There was a great round of applause.
But there happiness was short-lived. The next day the flag was at half-mast. Everyone wondered what had happened. They soon learned the truth. There had been a storm the previous night. Lightning had struck and trees had fallen. A great branch had fallen from a tree. The branch had tumbled through the mayor’s roof. It had fallen right on him in the night. The servants called for their master every morning. But that morning there was no reply. For once the mayor was not in a hurry to get up.
The next day the villagers appointed a new mayor. But he also failed to rise the next day. The day after they appointed another new mayor, but he also fell ill in the night and died. Finally, they ran out of mayoral candidates. No one wanted to be mayor anymore. Being the mayor was a tough job. It was killing everyone.
Finally a man came forward who was unafraid. He wanted to get to the bottom of things. He knew something was wrong and he wanted to find out what. He wanted to solve the mystery once and for all. He decided to investigate. That night was a restless night in the mayoral mansion. The new mayor tossed and turned in his sleep. A fierce wind was blowing outside. The window began rattling. The mayor got up to shut the window, but his eye caught sight of something. He peered through the glass. In the glass, he saw a reflection. It was coming from the mirror behind him.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Our names are Chang-hwa and Hong-nyung,” they replied.
“Why are you killing all the mayors?” he asked.
“We have killed no one,” they replied. “We seek only justice. We have asked each mayor to help us, but they were not strong enough. Their hearts gave out. Only you can help us.”
“What happened to you?” asked the mayor.
“Go to Oksu Pond and see for yourself,” they urged.
The next day the villagers followed the Lord Mayor to the pond. They dragged the pond all day long. Finally the two girls were found. The mayor decided to question the family. The stepbrother confessed everything. He told the mayor what his mother had told him to do. The stepbrother was forced to bury his sisters. He buried them in a warm and sunny place. He was ordered to pray by their graves as a penance. He is still praying there to this day. The repentant stepbrother can never forget his stepsisters’ faces. The same mayor ruled for many years. And a good harvest came every year of his reign.
The Music Box
Once there was a village with two outcasts. They were both disfigured. Each of them had an unsightly goiter. No one could speak to them. No one would have anything to do with them. The two hermits lived alone on the edge of the village.
One day, one of the hermits got lost. He was out collecting firewood and lost his way. He found an old abandoned house. It was eerie and mysterious looking. He was afraid to approach it. It looked haunted. Still, it was getting dark. He was too tired to go on anyway. He decided to stop there for the night.
He was scared so he started to sing. Some ghosts heard him singing. They were attracted by his singing. They had never heard such sweet music before. They flew through the forest. They passed through the trees. They surveyed the village from above. They searched and searched for the singer. Finally, they spotted a house in the middle of the forest. They flew down to investigate.
“Where did you learn such songs?” asked one of the ghosts.
“Where did you come from?” asked the hermit.
“I’m a ghost,” the phantom replied.
“I can appear anywhere. Now answer me. How did you learn to sing like that?”
“With this,” said the hermit, pointing to his goiter. “It’s a singing box.”
The poor hermit didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t mean to lie. He just didn’t know what else to tell them. He had no idea where his talent came from. This explanation was as plausible as any.”
The ghosts wanted his talent very badly. They wanted to sing like him. They decided to trade their treasure for his goiter. The hermit was over the moon. He had finally managed to solve his problem. He was finally rid of his ugly goiter. Not only that but he was rich.
When the other hermit heard the news, he rejoiced. Finally, he could rid himself of his deformity. He started practicing his singing. He even took vocal lessons. Then he made his way to the haunted house. It was very dark. The forest was very dense. Even with the full moon, light was absent. He groped his way through the dark. Not even his torch afforded him much light.
Finally, he stumbled upon the haunted house. It looked very foreboding in the dark. He was so scared he started singing. Once again, the ghosts came. It had been a long time since they had heard such a beautiful voice.
“How did you learn to sing like that?” asked one of the ghosts.
“With this,” the hermit replied, showing the ghost his goiter.
“A man once tried to cheat us by telling us the same lie,” said one of the ghosts.“We foolishly traded all we had for one of those.”
“Why, that’s the other hermit’s goiter,” the hermit observed.
“Well, now it’s yours,” the ghost replied.
The hermit returned to the village with two goiters. ‘It is better to dream up my own ideas,’ thought the hermit. ‘An idea once tried is of no use.’
The Tiger Trap
A woodcutter lived in a deep forest. It was filled with many fearful animals. By night, the owls would hoot. By day, the wolves and bears would growl. The woodcutter liked to make lots of noise. As long as he made noise, the animals stayed away. He chopped and chopped. He cut and cut with his axe. Trees fell with a great crash. The animals stayed away. But when he was done, the woodcutter grew fearful. It was then the animals came.
One day, the woodcutter finished his work. He was making his way home. Suddenly, he heard a fearful growl. He began to run. He wended his way through the trees. Then he stopped, teetering on the edge of a deep pit. It was a tiger trap. Below him, there paced an angry tiger. Looking up at him suddenly, it pleaded for help.
“Please woodcutter,” the tiger appealed. “Won’t you help me?”
“How?” asked the woodcutter.
“Help me get out of here,” the tiger pleaded.
Taking pity on the tiger, the woodcutter decided to take a chance. He pulled a tree over with a great long vine. The tree bent nearly double. He tied the vine to the tiger’s tail. The woodcutter let go and the tree swung back into position. The vine pulled the tiger free. The tiger was overjoyed, utterly ecstatic. He now had his confidence and self-esteem back. There was no reason for him to keep his promise now. He was hungry. The woodcutter would make a fine meal.
“I promised not to eat you,” said the tiger. “But I haven’t eaten for three days. I’m really hungry. I’m sorry, but I have to eat you.”
“But I saved your life!” the woodcutter protested. “How can you do this?”
“I said tigers always keep their word. I didn’t say I always keep mine.”
“But you’re a tiger,” the woodcutter argued.
“I guess that makes me an exception to the rule,” said the tiger.
The woodcutter suggested they consult the tree. They approached a big tree. The tree stood proudly, swaying in the breeze. It bowed to them, lowering its canopy. They could see the tree was friendly. The woodcutter explained the situation. The tree listened carefully.
“You people cut us and burn us,” said the tree. “Why should we help you?”
The woodcutter wasn’t satisfied. He wanted a second opinion. They decided to consult a cow.
“We work for you,” said the cow. “We help you plough your fields, but you never appreciate it. Go ahead and eat the woodcutter. He’s nothing to me.”
The tiger was overjoyed. He had the approval of the tree and the cow. The woodcutter begged for one more chance. The tiger reluctantly agreed. They approached a rabbit.
“I think the big tree and cow are right,” said the rabbit. “I can’t make up my mind. I want to go back to the beginning. Show me what happened. Take me to the place where you first met.”
“I was in this trap,” said the tiger, climbing into the trap. “And the woodcutter was cutting wood.”
“Well, you can stay in the trap,” said the rabbit, turning to the woodcutter. “And you woodcutter, you can ignore him. If he calls for help, don’t budge an inch. He’s the type to take a yard if you give him half an inch.”
North American Indian Tales
The Big Turtle
The Indian chief held the talking stick. It was his turn to talk. He knew the prophecy. He knew what would happen to the Big Turtle. One day, all the peoples would come to America. He called America the Big Turtle because of its shape.
“I have heard the prophecy,” the chief announced. “One day, the white man, the black man, the yellow man, and the brown man would all come to live in the Big Turtle. Now they have come.”
“You knew we were coming?” asked the white, black, yellow, and brown children.
“You had to come,” said the chief. “The Big Turtle needs you. Each of you has special powers. The white man is of the body and all he creates is of the body. The radio is the extension of his ears. The TV is the extension of his eyes. The crane is the extension of his hands. His wheels carry his feet where they wish to go.”
“What about the yellow man?” asked the white girl.
“The yellow man is of the mind,” the chief explained. “And all his creations are of the mind. He writes the book of wisdom.”
“And the black man?” asked the black boy. “What about the black man?”
“The black man is of the soul,” the chief replied. “And all of his creations are of the soul. He is the music-maker and the rain-dancer.”
“And what of the brown man?” asked the yellow girl.
“The brown man is of the spirit,” the chief explained. “He knows everything there is to know. He knows the great mysteries. He knows about life and death. He knows where the soul goes after the body dies. He builds a mansion for the soul. This mansion has many rooms. His imagination is great.”
“But you have said nothing of your people,” said the brown boy. “What about the red man?”
“My people are the people of the animal spirits,” said the chief. “They know the cycle of the soul. They have been sacrificed to the gods. They have to share their house. Their door is open wide. They have invited everyone in. That is why they share their house. With the white, black, yellow and brown man. The people of the Big Turtle will mix. One day we will all be whole. One day we will all be of the body, mind, soul, and spirit. The Big Turtle will be a great swimmer. He will swim in the great sea. He will mingle with the Big Bear, the Big Tiger, the Big Kangaroo, and Big Giraffe. Then, the bear, tiger, kangaroo, and giraffe will all lie down together. This is the prophecy.”
The Dream Catcher
One day, a woman was watching a spider. She was observing how it spun its web. She saw how it made a loom and wove its nest. She saw how it trapped butterflies and other insects. The spider woman decided to weave a web of her own. She did not want to trap butterflies and other insects. She wanted to capture something far more precious. She planned to catch dreams, and as many as possible. But not just any dreams. She wanted to catch people’s bad dreams, their nightmares and prevent them from coming true. She called her device the dream catcher. It consisted of a web spun on the loom of the spider woman. She gave a dream catcher to every warrior. And each warrior handed it down to his son and to the next generation. Every son was taught to use the dream catcher to catch his bad dreams.
“Father, what is that spider’s web with hawk’s feathers I see hanging on the wall?” asked the boy.
“That’s a dream catcher,” said his father.
“Why do you have a dream catcher?” asked the boy.
“So I do not lose my dream,” said the father.
“What is your dream?” asked the boy.
“You are my dream,” the father replied. “I want you to grow up healthy and strong. I want you to be a great warrior.”
“Am I really your dream, father?” asked the boy.
“The greatest of my dreams, my son. That’s why I can’t afford to lose you.”
The boy would soon be a man. He was time for him to go through his rites of passage. He had to go into the woods and hunt a bear. On the appointed day, he headed off in his canoe. He waved goodbye to his father and paddled off downstream. He followed the bends in the river. He navigated the twists and turns in his life. He passed through many rough spots. He found himself caught in back eddies and then pushed forward into the streams of life. He had his ups and downs and times of great turbulence, but he kept going.
One night, his father had a bad dream. He was dreaming about his son. He dreamt that his son was caught in rough water. The father tossed and turned in his sleep. He broke out into a cold sweat. He could see that his son had lost control of the canoe. The boy was caught in the current and there was nothing he could do. Suddenly, the canoe was thrown by a violent wave. The boy lost his balance and the canoe overturned. He was thrown headlong into the water. The boy was taken by the river and swept helplessly downstream.
Fortunately, the father had hung the dream catcher up on the wall before going to bed. The dream catcher would guard and protect his son. It would see that the father would not lose his dream. The dream catcher would catch his dream and safeguard it. Fortunately for the boy he could see his father in his spiritual eye. He could see his father holding his fishing net. He could see his father holding out the fishing net to catch him. The boy felt himself being pulled from the current. He could feel himself being carried to the shore. The father had not lost his dream after all. The boy had been caught in the web woven by the spider woman.
Can Animals Talk?
Professor Tietzel has spent much of his life bird watching. He has watched and listened to birds all over the world. He likes music, but his favorite are the oratorios and solos performed by birds in the wild. The sing of the whip-poor-will is like a lullaby to him that never fails to put him to sleep. He always hears the whip-poor-will just before bed. It even sounds like the bird is bidding him to “Go to sleep! Go to sleep!” as his mother once told him when she was tucking him in as a boy.
The professor is particularly fond of parrots. He is amazed by their ability to speak human language. The professor once studied the African gray parrot from Gabon. He taught the bird the names of its favorite food items. He taught it to say‘carrot’ and ‘nuts’ for instance. When he offered the parrot food, he waited for the bird to ask for the food item before giving it to the bird. If the bird asked for the correct item, the professor would offer it some food as a reward. In this way, the professor taught the bird to talk and ask for whatever it wanted. I guess birds are not such birdbrains after all. The professor even learned that, in one study, a parrot was able to identify over 300 objects according to form, size, and color. In one study, a parrot even learned to give correct answers to questions like “What is yellow?” and“What color is this box?”
Professor Tietzel has been studying birds for many years. He has noted that there are three levels of communication. First, birds have a special language for talking to other birds. Second, birds have regional dialects just like humans. Third, each bird has its own unique language and way of speaking. Nightingales have several songs, some inviting, others warning of impending danger. Many of the bird’s songs are individual compositions. The nightingale is very romantic. It has serenaded lovers for hundreds of years. The professor has noted that it can even mimic the sounds of other animals.
But birds are not the only talkers. Professor Tietzel has heard the language of whales. He has been on deep-sea dives on his sea voyages. He has heard the songs of the whales. He has heard them discoursing with one another during his dives. He finds the songs of the humpback and beluga whales particularly impressive. He has heard them singing for over an hour. Their speech is a mixture of barking, squeaking, whistling, rasping, snorting, bawling, humming, and trilling. Their songs are truly melodic. Professor Tietzel wishes he could speak whale language, but he still doesn’t understand it. From his study of whales, he professor has learned that sailors used to mistake the whales for mermaids and sirens. The sailors thought the whales’ beautiful songs were sung by pretty mermaids and sirens.
In fact, while bird watching, Professor Tietzel saw that even bees talk. Honeybees can even call each other for dinner. The professor has seen how they communicate through dance. The bees tell each other where the food is through different dances. If the food is less than 100 m from the hive, the bee will dance in a circle. If the food is more distant, the bee will perform a waggling dance in a figure eight. The speed of the dance also shows the distance of the food. The circling of the bee decreases as the distance increases. 40 rounds means 100 m, while 24 rounds means over 500 m. The position of the dance indicates the direction of the food. The intensity and length of the dance represents the taste of the food. So great a talker is the honeybee that within an hour as many as 10,000 insects will go out for dinner.
Thanks again professor for your wonderful field trip. The professor is planning a bird watching outing next weekend. I love bird watching, don’t you? I wish I could spend every weekend with him. He’s really terrific. Sometimes, I think he knows everything. He’s a walking encyclopedia really.
- How did Professor Tietzel teach his parrot to talk?
- Why was the professor’s parrot so clever?
- What three languages do birds speak?
- What did sailors often mistake whales for?
- How do bees communicate?
- How does the bee communicate the distance of an object to other bees?
- What does the speed of the bee’s dance reveal?
- How does the bee communicate direction?
- What would you do if you saw a bee talking about you?
- Where would you run if you were chased by a swarm of bees?
A Whale of a Time
When Professor Tietzel was in the navy, he was assigned to a submarine. He enjoyed his life on board the submarine. He especially liked listening to the whales. It was lucky that there were so many beluga and blue whales. It was the only source of music for the sailors. There was no radio reception underwater. Professor Tietzel loved listening to the whales.
He was particularly fascinated by dolphins, sperm whales, and killer whales. He used to watch them through his periscope. He could hear them making clicking noises. He noticed how they kept changing directions as they made these sounds. The whales and dolphins also used sonar to find fish and other food. The clicking sounds created sound waves. The sound waves would bounce off objects and reflect back to the whale. The whale would detect the strength, direction and type of reflection in this way. The whale’s brain would then calculate the distance of the object. The sonar is good for up to 800 meters.
Professor Tietzel noticed how similar his sub was to a whale. The sub also used sonar just like the whale. The sub used sound waves to detect its prey much like a whale. Sonar helped the sub hunt down enemy ships. Both man and whale have learned to adapt to the sea. Man has used his intellect to develop sonar. The whale has developed sonar by natural adaptation. The professor is amazed by man’s ability to learn from animals. In many ways, the sub behaves just like a whale.
Not all whales use sonar. The blue whale does not have sonic ability of any kind. Professor Tietzel believes that blue whales take advantage of the Earth’s magnetic field. Magnetic signals come from the ocean floor. These signals guide the whales. Sadly, some magnetic routes run toward the coast. This could explain why whales sometimes get stranded. The magnetic field may lead them ashore. Here, they sometimes get beached. However, even whales with sonic ability sometimes get beached. The professor thinks he knows why. He thinks storms, pollution, and noise from ships are the culprits. These things damage the whale’s sonar. This makes the whale blind.
Professor Tietzel likes sailing. He does most of his sailing in the North Sea. He has seen a lot of beached whales there. He has seen many on the east coast of the U.K. It always makes him sad to think of this. It is heartbreaking to see these beasts stranded on the beach with no hope of returning to sea. Sometimes, a single whale is marooned, sometimes a whole pod. Once out of the water, the whales are trapped by their own colossal weight. So great is their size that they soon suffocate. They are crushed by their own tonnage.
The professor believes the whales have their own inbuilt compasses. He watches the whales when he is out sailing. He has seen how they occasionally change course. On one of his voyages, he followed a blue whale. He was amazed by the distance traveled by the sea beast. He followed the whale for several thousand kilometers. Somehow, the whales are able to follow the same course year after year. The animal seems to be sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field. The professor believes the compass is located in the animal’s eye, most likely in the retina.
Let’s thank Professor Tietzel for sharing his research. He is planning a whaling expedition in the Arctic next spring. This is not a hunting expedition. The professor doesn’t believe in hunting for sport. He doesn’t subscribe to killing animals. He is a strict vegetarian. The whale expedition is only for observation. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras. Will you by coming along? Be sure to sign up for the next expedition now.
- Why do whales and dolphins make clicking sounds?
- How are whales able to judge the distances to objects?
- How is a whale like a submarine?
- How are blue whales able to navigate?
- Why do some whales get beached?
- How do whales die when they get beached?
- How far do whales swim during their migrations?
- How does Professor Tietzel believe whales are able to travel such great distances?
- Where does Professor Tietzel believe the whale’s compass is located?
- Do you think whales will become extinct someday?
Can Animals Think?
Most people think that animals can’t think. That’s what they think! Professor Tietzel thinks otherwise. He believes animals are far cleverer than we give them credit. Having watched animals for years, the professor has developed a theory. He thinks animals can think. He thinks animals are intelligent and that they can reason. He has watched them. He has traveled in his hot air balloon all over the world. He has observed the creatures of the land, air and sea. He knows their habits. He thinks they can think.
Professor Tietzel has seen the ants come marching home. He has watched how they behave when it rains. For us, rain is a great benefit. But for the ants, rain is a flood. The professor has watched ants crossing the water. He has seen them building bridges out of sticks. He has watched them cross these bridges. The professor thinks the ants are actually capable of reasoning and problem solving. These are the things he sees through his telescope when he is flying overhead in his hot air balloon.
The professor also likes to go bird watching. He watches the birds through binoculars from his hot air balloon. He watches the eagles circling. He thinks they are thinking. He believes they are calculating. He thinks they are waiting for just the right moment. They are just waiting to trap their prey. When the rodents have run out of places to run, the eagle pounces.
Once the professor flew over Africa. He spotted an Egyptian vulture through his telescope. The vulture was trying to eat the yoke from an ostrich egg. The bird picked up a stone in its beak and dropped it on the egg. The thick shell of the egg cracked open. The professor thinks the bird was reasoning. He believes this is an example of deductive reasoning.
Professor Tietzel has flown over North America in his hot air balloon. He has watched Canada geese flying south through his telescope. He has seen the monarch butterflies flying to Mexico. He has observed their migratory paths. The butterflies always nest in the same trees. It is as if they have a compass with them at all times. Where does this programmed intelligence come from? Is it instinct? Or do these animals actually have an intelligence we do not understand? Is it a form of intelligence programmed into the animals’ genetic codes? Or is the animal actually calculating and thinking? Is the animal problem solving? If the weather is cold the animal must fly south. This discovery may be habit forming. Having discovered warmer climbs, the animals may retain some memory of where to return each year. The professor is convinced birds are not birdbrains at all.
The professor has also flown over the seas and oceans. He has observed the habits of the fish. After several years in the open sea, the salmon uses its homing instinct to return to the exact same river where it was born. The salmon always returns to the same spawning grounds in order to breed. How does the salmon remember where it was born? Does it have a memory? How can it find its birthplace so easily? Is its memory so acute?
The professor has flown over the West African country, the Ivory Coast. Here, he has observed the habits of chimpanzees through his telescope. These animals use granite stones to crack open the hard nuts they like to eat. Over short distances of 20 m, they carry the heavy stones. Over longer distances of 40 m, they choose lighter stones. The animal’s attempt to conserve its strength shows judgment. The animal seems to be capable of mathematical calculation and the measuring of distance. If the weight of the stone and the distance they are carried are both variables, the animal seems to be capable of some form of calculation.
Professor Tietzel’s trip is over. He has returned to castle in Germany. We thank him for his scientific study. We’ll have to wait to see where he takes us next time. Do you plan to come along next time? He better have more than one balloon for the next journey. I have a feeling a lot more people are going to want to come next time.
- What makes Professor Tietzel think animals are capable of problem solving?
- What makes the professor think Egyptian vultures are capable of problem solving?
- What is remarkable about the salmon?
- What makes the professor think chimpanzees are capable of reasoning?
- Where would you like to go in the professor’s hot air balloon?
- Which animals would you want to study?
Animals Are Really Smart
Professor Tietzel is a great explorer and adventurer. He has been to many lands and visited many kingdoms. He is especially fascinated by the animal kingdom. He has even come face to face with the king of the animal kingdom. That’s right, you guessed it, a lion. Professor Tietzel is very fond of the king of beasts. He is fond of all the king’s subjects as well. He loves all the beasts of the wild.
The professor has gone camping in the forest many times. He likes to sit up by the campfire at night. He enjoys listening to the sound of wolves baying at the moon. He loves the sounds of the forest. He especially likes the sound of whip-poor-wills at dusk and owls at night. He is truly amazed by the owl’s resourcefulness and infrared vision. However, owls are not the only predators that hunt at night. The professor has seen some rattle snakes with some pretty keen night vision. He has discovered that rattlesnakes are sensitive to heat. They can sense the heat given off by their prey.
The professor has been on safari many times in Africa. He does not like hunting all that much. He would never kill an animal. In fact, the professor is a strict vegetarian. He goes on safari to film and photograph animals. He even likes to sketch animals in his sketchbook. He also keeps a diary of his travels. Sometimes, he even gives a slideshow or travelogue. The last time he was in Africa he studied elephants. He noticed how elephants seemed to be able to sense danger. They knew when the hunters were coming. The professor was amazed. He wondered about their special ability. By studying the elephants, he learned that they could hear low frequency sound. Humans can hear sounds in the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, but elephants can hear sounds below 20 hertz. This is called infrasound. With their infrasound sensitive ears, elephants can hear over distances of several thousand kilometers. Elephants can also communicate with one another over vast distances. They can even warn each other of approaching danger long before it arrives.
The professor also enjoys bird watching. He takes his camera and telescopic lens with him everywhere. He is fascinated by the way birds make subtle adjustments in the air. They seem to sense changes in wind patterns long before they come. The professor has studied this ability in birds. He has discovered that a bird’s feathers act as whiskers. The feathers are sensitive to air currents. The feathers detect changes in the atmosphere. They then transfer this information to the brain. This allows the bird to adjust its flight pattern according to the wind speed and direction.
When traveling in his hot air balloon, Professor Tietzel has observed the migratory habits of birds. He is intrigued by how birds sense a change in the weather. They seem to know exactly when winter is coming. They also know exactly where they are going when they are flying. They always follow the same migratory path. The professor wondered how this was possible. He discovered that migratory birds can detect changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. This is how they are able to determine their location.
On one of the professor’s south sea voyages, he went to Antarctica. He sailed around the entire coast of that continent. He observed many penguins there. He has plenty of film footage of the penguins swimming and frolicking in the water. He thinks they are enormously intelligent. He is fascinated by the way they walk upright like humans. He also noticed how the penguins seemed to have an excellent sense of direction. They seemed to know exactly where they were going even in the dark. The professor discovered that penguins know how to chart the stars. They actually plot their directional heading by the stars. This helps them find their way during their seasonal migrations.
Let’s thank Professor Tietzel for being such a wonderful guide. He’s planning another expedition in the summer. He’s promised to take us along. Are you up for it? I can’t wait. Looking forward to seeing you on the next trip. I wonder what the professor has planned for us next time.
- How do owls see at night?
- How are snakes able to hunt at night?
- Elephants are renowned for their keen hearing.“He has ears like an elephant”is a commonly used expression in English. How do you hear so well?
- How is it birds are able to fly so adroitly in the air currents?
- How do migratory birds know which direction to fly in?
- What are some of the things that make penguins so much like humans?
- How do penguins find their way in the dark?
- Do you think animals are intelligent or instinctual creatures?
The Monkey Doctors
Professor Tietzel is a great mountaineer. He has climbed some of the highest mountains in Africa and Asia. He is a great nature lover. He records everything he sees during his journeys. He charts the weather. He measures the depth of the snow at each elevation. He observes the animals and records their habits. Nothing escapes Professor Tietzel’s keen intellect.
One of his greatest adventures was in Nepal. He was climbing a steep face when his safety line snapped. He lost his footing and nearly fell. Fortunately, he found a handhold at the last second. He hung by one hand for several moments. Then he swung himself around and found a toehold. That was the professor’s closest call. Some people have compared him to a cat. And like a cat, he seems to have nine lives.
Professor Tietzel watched the animals during his climb. He was especially interested in the monkeys. One of the monkey breeds is called the macaques. The professor took note of their behavior. He recorded his observations in his diary. One of the strangest habits of these creatures that he noted was that they ate dirt. First, the macaques dig a hole with their fingers. Then they scoop out the dirt and eat it. Professor Tietzel found this quite odd. He wondered if the animals liked the taste. Professor Tietzel is admirably brave. He is willing to try anything. He tasted the dirt but found it bitter and foul tasting. Then the professor tested the soil. He discovered that it was rich in minerals. There was one mineral that was in particular abundance. It is called kaolin. Kaolin fights diarrhea. Somehow, the monkeys discovered that the soil could cure diarrhea.
On another expedition, Professor Tietzel was in the mountains of Tanzania. He was accompanying a team of Japanese scientists. The team was studying a large female chimpanzee. She was weak and in poor health. She did not even have the strength to feed on some nearby ants. Instead, she dragged herself over to a grove of trees. There, she grabbed a bunch of leaves. They were leaves from a tropical plant called Vernonia amygdalina. She chewed the leaves to get at the bitter juice. The juice fights stomach upset and digestive complaints. When she had extracted the juice, she spit out the leaves. The next morning Professor Tietzel and his Japanese colleagues rose early. They watched the chimp closely. They saw that she had completely recovered. She could walk and feed normally. Professor Tietzel and the Japanese scientists discussed their findings. They concluded that the chimp was not just a patient. She was also a doctor. She had treated and cured herself.
Professor Tietzel observed the habits of chimps in other parts of Africa. He noticed that they usually eat fruit nearby. But sometimes, they go out of their way to eat a special plant. They will walk great distances to eat a plant called Aspilia. This plant is no treat. The chimps dislike the taste as much as we would. They turn up their noses and make sour faces when they eat it. Professor Tietzel wondered why they ate it. He wondered if it was good for them or medicinal in some way. The professor’s chemist friends tested the juice. They found that it killed parasites and fungi. The juice was a natural antibiotic. The professor noticed that the animals ate more healing plants during the rainy season. Pneumonia and infectious diseases are worse at that time of year. The chimps seem to know about herbal medicine.
Professor Tietzel is sure about his findings. He knows the monkeys and chimps are good doctors. They know plants can heal. They even know how to cure illnesses. The professor thinks we can learn a lot from monkey doctors. This is no monkey business. Our simian friends know what they are doing. They are very clever. We can learn a lot about medicine from chimps and monkeys. These guys don’t monkey around. For example, the professor saw chimps eat the plant Aspilia. He discovered that Aspilia is a good antibiotic. But guess what else the professor discovered. Aspilia can even cure cancer!
Professor Tietzel’s mountain expedition is over. He’s planning another trip next summer. Do you want to be part of his exploration team? Don’t forget to pack all your essentials. What are you going to bring? I’m going to bring a flashlight, batteries, bug spray, a lighter, compass and sleeping bag. How about you? I can’t bring everything, you know. My knapsack already weighs a ton! Can you bring something? See you on the next outing.
- How did the professor nearly die?
- Why do macaques eat dirt?
- What did the professor discover about the soil the macaques ate?
- Why did the chimps eat the leaves of a particular plant?
- What did Professor Tietzel conclude from observing the clever chimp?
- Why do chimps eat Aspilia?
- Why is Aspilia so beneficial to health?
- Would you trust a chimp to be your doctor?
- Do you think we can learn about natural medicine from chimps?
- Do you think we should return to more natural medicines?