daily preciousness

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

changing the locks

Note: The following excerpt is adapted from my "personal philosophy of life" paper that I wrote for a class. Um, yeah, I got an "A." You mean you have to ask?

One of my favorite storytellers, Joseph Campbell, explains it one way. I explain it this way.

The lonely young prince set forth secretly. From his father's palace, he escaped on the princely steed Folf'eena. Her coat was chai brown with a foam of white mane on top.

He stared up at the lotus pond sky. The flowers bloomed brightly above him. He passed through the gate of Laughter and Forgetting.

Past the fragrant lilac, past the achingly purple thornberry bush, he passed the playful yapping of Kor'ki, his pup.

He rode through the night, down the dirt path, flanked by four times sixty thousand torches whose warm glow kissed him, even as the cool night air crept cold fingerly through cloth and coat. Fingertips grew numb at the bridle. His feet perched without feeling in the stirrups.

The only sensation left in him was a thought. A thought made physical: "Words written backwards on a grain of sand." He could feel the words-on-sand at his feet, in his hands and in his hair.

Like angels in Teheran or Nixon in China, they spoke to him of possibility. Limitless possibility.

And possibility welled up in his stomach. It warmed him. It spread to every last square inch of his skin.

With an inner grin, he hurdled the majestic river Mai'sip'ai, though it was eleven hundred and twenty-eight cubits wide. Slipping silently over its surface, he resembled a kingfisher in flight.

Landing on the other side, he stopped his steed and jumped off. He drew his sword. Its ringing sound silenced the cicada song.

Then, with a single stroke, he sheared his own royal locks – whereupon the remaining hair, two finger-breadths in length, curled to the right and lay close to his head. The hair fell to the ground. Where each strand hit, a golden flower bloomed.

He whispered hoarsely, more to himself than anyone else, "That is, I believe, what they call 'changing the locks.'"

And onward he galloped into the great possibility of his own undiscovered country.

(With sincere apologies to Buddha, Milan Kundera, Richard Nixon, Single Gun Theory and Joseph Campbell...)


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