We’ve been talking about having a storyteller’s heart, so this month, I’m going to tell you a story about that.
Years ago, before we had so many multiple lane expressways and revolving billboards, most road trips would take you down quiet 2-lane rural roads. Back in those days, advertisers had to get creative, and the Burma Shave folks certainly did … you’d pass a small sign with an open-ended statement or question … then, a half-mile later, another sign and they’d continue the thought … then, in another half mile, another sign … then, in another half mile … well, you get the idea. There would be 4-5 or more signs and usually they’d rhyme. Kind of like:
Can’t get a date?
Grab that razor,
before it’s too late!
What’s that? The razor hurts?
Makes you howl and rave?
Then, slather up that chin
with Burma Shave!
I made that up. I have no clue what they actually said ... I’ve only heard tales. I’m not THAT old!!
Anyway, the point is, you wouldn’t see the whole message until you drove past all of the signs.
Like those signs, I’m going to tell this story in installments, and you won’t know the whole story until you read all four blogs. If some catastrophe happens before July 28th – like if an asteroid hits or if someone finally drops the bomb or maybe that super volcano under Yellowstone blows – just make up your own ending. It’ll give you something to do to pass the time in the fallout shelter.
Okay, now you need cheering up … here’s the first installment (minus the rhyming, thank goodness!):
In the early days the earth was quiet and peaceful.
Even so, the music had grown faint and was mostly imperceptible now.
Daily activities centered around staying alive – finding food and staying safe, taking care of yourself and your family. Stressful even in these early, simpler times. When people needed a restful break, they would go spend time with the Storyteller.
He was always there, tending to his path at the edge the forest, sweeping it clear, sowing colorful wildflowers along the edges. Was that the path leading to his home? No one knew. He simply was always there, welcoming visitors with a smile and inviting them to walk his path with him while he told them fantastic tales of ancient times that were hardly believable. Still, he was mesmerizing to hear, and no matter how long or short your time with him, or how far you walked with him, when his tale and your visit ended, you would find yourself right back at the spot where you had started out.
The Storyteller was very old – ancient, some said – and most people just wrote him off as crazy. Listening to folks talk about him, you would agree that, yes, he’s just a kooky old man. But then you would meet him … and revel in the tales he spun about times and events that no one else knew. Did he really believe the things he spoke? So you’d look into his sad eyes for hints at the truth … but those sad eyes only twinkled back at you. They hid secrets, for sure, but secrets that would not be forth coming that day. And so his mystique persisted.
But regardless of how mesmerizing the Storyteller was, there were more important things to tend to … like staying alive.
People kept procreating – because that’s what people do – and soon there were more and more people who found themselves bumping into more and more of the other people. They needed space.
Families and clans grew and spread out across the land. Over time they began grouping together with other families and clans. Simple family groups joined and became larger communities. More hands meant more help. Chores were assigned and divvied up. Living got a little easier with shared work.
Now there was more free time. Every night after the evening meal, groups would gather around fires to talk about their day and tell stories and share important news and information with the community.
The stories told here were much different than the stories the Storyteller told. These were practical and important … maybe you’d find out that a newly discovered plant wasn’t safe to eat … or maybe you needed some specialized help with your chores, and the people you knew, knew other people who could help you. Even the stories that weren’t practical – the funny ones, the adventurous ones – at least made sense. Not at all like the nonsense the Storyteller told.
Over time, the number and frequency of visitors the Storyteller entertained dwindled and dwindled until finally no one ever came to see him at all. No one spoke of him and eventually, the few people who knew he existed grew older and died one by one until there was no one left who had even heard of him.
And the world progressed …
The population exploded. Communities grew into cities. Cities grouped together within boundaries that became countries with economies and resources that leaders made war over.
Collective knowledge accumulated. The more they learned, the more they wanted to know. Great institutions of learning sprung up and the sciences were born.
Everyone everywhere was busy either working or exploring or discovering or inventing or manufacturing or entertaining themselves. Machines hummed, lights burned, music blared, people talked non stop. Everywhere, all of the time, something was happening.
The world was busy and noisy.
Far away from it all, a solitary figure swept a few stray leaves out of the path he tended. Nothing to do now except watch and wait. And listen …
But it was no use … he couldn’t hear it anymore. Oh, how he missed the music!
Be patient. It will return.
He wiped a tear from his cheek and half smiled to himself.
Yes, my tired old heart, be patient. It will return!