Becoming a full-fledged demon was not an easy a task as one might imagine and Moribund the Shadow Thing was attempting demonhood. His target had unnerved him so utterly upon their first encounter he disappeared into the abyss entirely.
Now, it was time to try again. He must frighten Emily Bean or risk losing his chance altogether. He slithered from under her closet door and arched himself most sinisterly over her.
“Read me a story,” Emily smiled, flicking on her nightlight.
Moribund sagged. Not again. That cherub’s face…
Opening the book, he sighed, “‘What was the rabbit late for,’ wondered Alice.”
Maybe this demon-thing wasn’t in the cards.
The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was writing a piece with ….‘What was the rabbit late for,’ wondered Alice….. in it. Next week the last line of each entry will be taken by another writer and used as a prompt for that challenge.
To see other entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.
“I remain fixed, whereas innumerable universes, becoming concepts within my mind, rotate within me.”– The highest pradakshina
I stumbled upon this quote yesterday. It’s one of those “gems” that sparks something deep in me. It moves currents I can’t name but I know it’s left me changed.
If you’re not familiar, a pradakshina is a ritual done when visiting a Hindu temple. It’s customary to walk in slow circles around the altar after offering prayers. It’s a symbolic act. One can’t draw, or walk, a circle without a center point. This center point is considered the Source, or God, or the Lord, or whatever you label the target of your devotion. It’s symbolic that our existence cannot be without it. Also, considering every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant to the center, this is symbolic that all things in creation are also equidistant to its Source or Creator. All are equal. Verses are often repeated while circumambulating the altar and the above quote is one of them.
I am not Hindu, but a person doesn’t have to belong to a faith, philosophy or belief system to find value or understanding. These words fell like a perfectly polished stone into my being, rippling gently and sinking exquisitely into the depths of my core. My interpretation may not be its exact intended meaning, but as with all abstractions, the mind and soul recognize the shape that makes the most sense.
“I” always remains fixed; unmoving. By “I” it’s referring to consciousness, or that part of your being which observes every thought and deed. It’s been present in you, unchanging, since birth. It’s not the mind but that which observes the mind. Although you have physically, it has never aged. All your thoughts, all your actions and emotions are in movement. They swirl, ebb and flow but the “I” sits motionless in its constant and unfailing observation. It is the point around which the circle of our existence is drawn.
“Innumerable universes, becoming concepts within in my mind, rotate within me” hints that the thoughts we have about anything and everything become real things, alternate universes, or realities, that we carry within us, within that circle; forever spinning. They become the fiber of our being. They define how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive our life. If not for these tiny universes, we would be nothing more than an empty shell with no dimension; just a plastic bag in the wind.
This leads to the notion that mindfulness is critical to understanding and molding our character. It’s the reminder that the thoughts we project into our being are important. Not being mindful, or being unaware of our thoughts and what creates them, would be akin to building a high-rise without a blueprint.
There is more I could probably say about this, but the little voice in me says, “Stop here. It’s enough.”
This is where I fall into quiescence where words begin to fail but understanding blooms. I’m content to watch all these little universes rotate and ponder the blue print I’ve been using and what changes I’d like to make.
Mid March of this year, Greg and Barbara MacGillivray traveled to Laguna San Ignacio located on Mexico’s Baja Penninsula to do a little whale watching. Even though San Ignacio is a whale watcher’s paradise, they received a special treat they weren’t expecting. A gray whale mother sought out the small boat of sightseers and introduced her baby to them. At one point she even held her calf to the surface so it could look at them.
Laguna San Ignacio, Part of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, is where hundreds of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) migrate annually, traveling about 6,000 miles (10,000 km) from their Alaskan feeding grounds to the warm shallow water of San Ignacio lagoon. There they mate and give birth between January and April.
“There is a constant ‘oofft’ of the exhalation from the blow holes of all the whales surfacing for air. Such a gentle reassurance that nature is alive and well in the lagoon: probably the softest, most gentle and nurturing sound in the world,” said Barbara.
“We would never approach the whales directly, but waited at a respectful distance of about 20-30 feet of a visible whale and calf to see if they would approach us. The initiative was always in the whales’ court.”
If a whale approaches the small fishing boats seeking human interaction, no more than two boats are allowed in the immediate area of the “friendly,” as these whales are called.
“Frequently, it seemed like the mother wanted us to see her calf, actively pushing the calf close to our boat,” Barbara said. Luckily they were able to record and share one such amazing event!
Believing in the importance of striking the right balance between conservation and tourism, Serge Dedina, the Executive Director of WiLDCOAST and author of Saving the Gray Whale, said, “There is no other area in the world where whale watching is more regulated than San Ignacio Lagoon. In spite of the tourist activities there are more whales than ever. Local outfitters, the Mexican government, and conservationists have worked to eliminate most of the major threats to the whales in the Lagoon… Whale watching guides have been the biggest proponents of preserving whales along their migratory routes, and stopping planned hunts of whales. They’ve also supported a major endeavor to preserve 400,000 acres of the lagoon.”
Considering a full grown gray whale can reach up to 52 feet (16 m) in length and weighs about 35 tons, this had to be a breath-taking experience. Ironically, Gray whales were once called devil fishbecause of their fighting behavior when hunted. You can learn more about the gray whale here.
How can you not be moved by this face? The face that says “I’m just like you” but brows speak of an ability to find surprise in the mundane. The mustache says “I may not be perfect, but I try” and the eyes shine the light of a man’s sorrow and a boy’s innocent curiosity. I have always adored Charlie Chaplin for just these things and so much more.
The Movies Now Network here in India has been airing Charlie Chaplin movies every Thursday evening this month. I’ve been so grateful and delighted to have been reminded of the artistry and comedic genius of Mr. Chaplin. The man was a remarkable comedian and evokes more belly laughter in a black and white silent film than any in-living-color comedian could hope to master with such ease and grace.
But let me get around to the point I’m writing this piece. Last night’s movie was The Great Dictator. Released in October of 1940, this was Chaplin’s first true “talkie” film although he continued making silent films well into a decade where they had left fashion. If you’re not familiar with this flick, it lampoons Hitler and Nazi Germany. Like all of his films, Chaplin, wrote, directed, produced and starred in its leading role.
Chaplin plays two characters in this film. One is a Jewish barber and the other is Adenoid Hynkel (his version of Adolph Hitler). If you’d like to know more about the film and its plot, this link should satisfy your curiosity.
Although this proved to be his most successful film, I personally didn’t find it had as much whimsy and simplistic depth as his silent films. What did stand out, however, and the reason you’re reading about it on this blog, was a totally unexpected speech at the very end of the movie. Chaplin was a master of those honest and poignant blind-siding moments that never fail to take my breath away and this was one of those. The speech literally reached across the gulf of decades and spoke to real current world issues with both honesty and hope. I was so moved I had to pull it out of yesteryear’s closet in hopes of enforcing the sentiment that the “machine men with machine hearts” never have our best interests in mind in a world where violence and greed seem to be the guiding force of humanity.
First, let me set up what has happened to lead our character, the Jewish barber, to the predicament he finds himself in that leads to his speech. He escapes from a concentration camp wearing the enemy’s uniform. Border guards mistake him for Hynkel because they look nearly identical. At the same time, Hynkel falls overboard during a duck-hunting trip and mistaken for the barber and is arrested by his own soldiers. The barber, now secretly assuming Hynkel’s identity is taken to the capital of Osterlich to make a victory speech. He is introduced to the throngs by Minister of the Interior Garbitsch who decries free speech and argues for the subjugation of the Jews.
Then our reluctant hero takes the podium and says:
“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.
We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish. . .
Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
“The kingdom of God is within man”
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!
. . .
Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.
The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up.”
Here is the scene where he makes the speech from the film “The Great Dictator”:
I hope this moved you as it did me. I hope you will share it with those you think might benefit. Look up, Look up. We must never stop looking up.
The red box sat on the toadstool tempting as a strawberry. Next to it was its twin, less noticeably brown. Herp The-Not-So-Clever Dwarf pondered this boxy mystery as the woodsy-shadows grew longer. Even his ever-wandering eye stopped wandering; mesmerized.
“What do you suppose is inside?” he asked Derp, his twin brother.
Derp was rear-to-him and busy wrestling a salamander from under a log.
“Whatever you do, don’t open them,” he grunted.
Too late. Herp had vanished into the woods, a flurry of scurrying feet wailing like a siren as the contents of the red box pondered Derp’s behind with glowing eyes.
The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was “…the red box…”
To see other entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.
New images coming in from the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) of the sun this week have boggled a few imaginations. This new image shows what appears to be a planet-sized mysterious orb hovering above the surface of the sun, joined by an umbilical of sorts. After a few moments it appears to jettison suddenly off into space.
That is, at least, what UFOers and purveyors of Youtube are claiming. Not to discount those who have this passion, this time there is a scientific explanation for this newly observed phenomenon. According to NASA scientists, this strange planetoid and tether are actually related to a little-understood but frequently observed type of solar activity called a “prominence.” The way it is situated beneath another solar feature gives it the other-worldly appearance.
These prominences form loops that can reach thousands of miles out into space. When one extends the way this one did, it usually means it’s about to erupt. This is exactly what happened when the “planetoid” appears to launch into space.
What caused the strange planetoid appearance? The filament seen extending from the surface of the sun is actually a plasma tunnel called a filament tunnel. Because of the angle of its “spout” it appears as a spherical object. Basically, you’re looking straight down into it. These features aren’t uncommon.
So, if you’re like me when I first saw the video, you can put your lower jaw back into its original position and relax into a more comfortable sensation of awe and curiosity. I can hardly wait to see what new things are revealed by the SDO next.
A coronal mass ejection captured by the SOHO observatory on March 12. CREDIT: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Moribund The Shadow Thing made his way, slithering from shadow to shadow among the clowns in the little room. Their bawdiness was quieted by moonlight to blues and blacks. This was his realm. He grinned.
Closer to the sleeping child he crept. The foolish clowns held their breath, waiting for the scream to shatter the night. He leaned closer…
Light exploded into the room. Gaudy colors shrieked through his brain and then all went dark. Blinded.
“Herp, for Pete’s sake!” he hissed at the clueless dwarf.
“But I turned it off!”
The clowns laughed harder and Herp ran.
The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was “…but I turned it off…”
To see other entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.
Lawrence Anthony, known as “The Elephant Whisperer” passed away Thursday, March 8th, of a heart attack. If you’re not familiar with this amazing person, he was wildlife guru and conservationist. It seems the story of his life and accomplishments is so long and so great it’s going to be difficult to relay it all here without devoting an entire book to it, so I will focus on the remarkable event of his passing.
To give a little background, Lawrence Anthony was born on September 17 1950 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was raised up in a series of small towns in rural Rhodesia, Zambia, Malawi and finally Zululand, South Africa. The African bush was his backyard and lifelong love.
He became involved in working with Zulu tribes people to help rebuild their historical relationship with the bush, and in the mid-1990s he decided to turn his hobby into a career, buying the 5,000-acre Thula Thula (which means “quiet”) game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
He founded a conservation group called the Earth Organization and was instrumental in the creation of two new reserves, the Royal Zulu Biosphere in Zululand and the Mayibuye Game Reserve in Kwa Ximba, which provide local people with jobs and income through tourism while helping to secure the future of the region’s wildlife from creeping development.
In 1999, he was asked if he was willing to take control of a rogue herd of elephants. There were nine of them and they had been labeled unruly and dangerous, having escaped every enclosure that ever tried to contain them. As a result, they were wreaking havoc across KwaZulu-Natal and were in danger of being shot. Lawrence knew he was their only hope and agreed to accept them onto the Thula Thula reserve.
“They were a difficult bunch, no question about it,” Anthony recalled. “Delinquents every one. But I could see a lot of good in them too. They’d had a tough time and were all scared, and yet they were looking after one another, trying to protect one another.”
Anthony approached this motley crew of elephants as if they were deliquent children, working to persuade them through words and gestures the difference between acceptable behavior and bad behavior and that they could trust him. He focused most of his attention on Nana, the matriarch of the herd.
“I’d go down to the fence and I’d plead with Nana not to break it down,” he said. “I knew she didn’t understand English, but I hoped she’d understand by the tone of my voice and my body language what I was saying. And one morning, instead of trying to break the fence down, she just stood there. Then she put her trunk through the fence towards me. I knew she wanted to touch me. That was a turning point.”
Soon after they were finally allowed out into the reserve to roam freely.
Anthony and his wife, Françoise, became so close to the elephants that on some occasions they almost had to chase them out of their living room. When Nana gave birth, she brought her newborn to introduce to them a few days after its birth. A few years later, after Anthony’s first grandchild was born, he returned the compliment, though he recalled it was some time before his daughter-in-law would speak to him again.
Anthony tells the story of the elephants in “The Elephant Whisperer,” 2009, co-written with Graham Spence.
About a year ago, Anthony had to make a difficult decision. Tourism at Thula Thula was growing exponentially as was the herd. He feared for the elephants’ safety so he forced a distance between himself and the herd. As a result, the herd had not visited his home in over 15 months.
That distance ended Thursday evening. After Anthony passed from this world, the elephant herd mysteriously arrived at his home as if to pay their respects. Anthony believed and advocated that the elephants communicated on levels we don’t understand and their synchronistic appearance would suggest they knew he was no more. They have returned several times since, perhaps to share their grief.
On a personal note, I believe open, honest, loving hearts speak a universal language. It doesn’t require a tongue or a dialect. It’s something that’s passed intuitively between living things. Some are aware of it and some are not. This is what I feel is a beautiful and touching example.
Anthony Lawrence is also known for his 2003 gutsy rescue of the animals from Saddam Hussein’s zoo in Baghdad. As with his elephant friends, he earned the trust of people and animals alike in the middle of a war zone and accomplished what would have seemed otherwise impossible. But that’s another story.
Anthony died before his gala conservation dinner in Durban planned this month to raise international awareness of the rhino-poaching crisis, and to launch his new book, The Last of the Rhinos (The Powerful Story of One Man’s Battle to Save a Species).
Who is going to look out for the animals now? Dylan, Anthony’s eldest son, says everything at Thula Thula will go on as before. Sadly, it will just go on without the presence of Lawrence.
The dwarf twins, Derp and Herp, stood pondering the object. It perplexed them both, which wasn’t necessarily a hard thing to do. Derp absent-mindedly rubbed his toad-stool nose and Herp’s roving eye wandered in a different direction entirely.
Derp broke the silence first.
“A horse-beastie made out of wood is an odd thing to find.”
Herp blinked his good eye and tried to look at it harder. His bad eye was too busy watching a butterfly.
“I wonder how fast it goes?” Herp asked.
Derp resisted the urge to slap his forehead and rolled his eyes.
“Does stupid hurt, Herp?”
The above is my entry for the 100-Word-Challenge. The prompt this week was the photo posted above.
To see other entries, and more installments of this saga, go here.