(After Matsuo Bashō)
Thousands of soldiers died here
Now flowers die here
(After Matsuo Bashō)
Thousands of soldiers died here
Now flowers die here
THE WORK OF NEWBORNS
Both of us have jobs
We have the jobs of newborns
We eat and we sleep
Image we project
Often not reality
NOTE: With social media, many people become models and actors, presenting themselves always at their best. Others can look at that and feel envy. But all of us are flawed.
— 3.3 —
Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus came out of the cave that was their home in the mountainous country of Wales. A lord who had been banished from Cymbeline’s court, Belarius was using the name of Morgan. Guiderius and Arviragus were actually the kidnapped biological sons of Cymbeline, although they thought that they were the biological sons of Morgan; their names as Morgan’s sons were Polydore and Cadwal. Guiderius (Polydore) was the older of the two.
Belarius (Morgan) said as he came out of the cave, “This is an excellent day not to stay at home, especially a home with a roof as low as ours! Stoop, boys; this entrance instructs you how to adore the Heavens and bows you to a morning’s holy worship. In contrast to our entranceway, the gates of monarchs are arched so high that Muslim giants may strut through and keep their impious turbans on, without bowing a good morning to the Sun. Hail, you fair Heaven! We live in a cave in the rock, yet we do not treat you as harshly as those who live better than we do.”
Guiderius (Polydore) said, “Hail, Heaven!”
Arviragus (Cadwal) said, “Hail, Heaven!”
“Now for our mountain sport,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “Climb up yonder hill; your legs are young. I’ll tread this flat land. Consider, when you from above perceive me to look like the size of a crow, that it is one’s position, including social as well as physical, that lessens and enhances a person, and you may then revolve in your mind what tales I have told you about courts, about Princes, about tricks in war. Any act of service in public life is not service simply because it is done, but it becomes service as a result of being acknowledged. What matters is not what you have done, but what your superiors think you have done.
“When we think about things in this way, we can profit from everything we see, and often, to our comfort, we shall find that the dung beetle is in a safer fortress than is the full-winged eagle.”
In part, this meant that the dung beetle was safer because it lived in a humble abode and stayed away from the lavish abode of the court; however, Belarius (Morgan) was familiar with Aesop’s fable of the dung beetle and the eagle: Once an eagle was chasing a hare, who appealed to a dung beetle — the only creature around — for help. The dung beetle promised to help the hare, but the eagle ignored the dung beetle’s appeals for mercy and killed and devoured the hare in front of the dung beetle. Thereafter, the dung beetle sought to avenge the hare. The eagle would lay its eggs in a nest, and the dung beetle would go to the nest and push the eagle’s eggs out of the nest to the ground, where they broke. The eagle appealed to Jupiter, King of gods and men, for help. Jupiter held the eagle’s eggs in his lap, thinking they would be safe there. But the dung beetle took flight, carrying a ball of dung, which it dropped in Jupiter’s lap. Without thinking, Jupiter stood up to get the ball of dung off him, and the eagle’s eggs fell to the ground and broke. Moral: Despise no one. No one is so small that he or she cannot avenge an insult.
Belarius (Morgan) continued, “Oh, this life is nobler than a life of providing service only to be rebuked, this life is richer than a life of accepting bribes and then doing nothing, and this life is prouder than a life of wearing unpaid-for silk that rustles. People who wear unpaid-for silk will be saluted by their tailors, who make them fine, but yet the finely dressed people never succeed in paying off their bills. That is no life compared to our life.”
“You speak from your experience of life,” Guiderius (Polydore) said. “We — Cadwal and me — are poor and unfledged. We have never winged away from the view of the nest, nor do we know what the air is like away from home. Perhaps this life is best, if quiet life is the best; it is sweeter to you, who have known a sharper life. It is well suited to your stiff old age, but to us it is a life of ignorance, with all traveling done while dreaming in bed. It is a prison for a debtor, who does not dare to step out of sanctuary because he will be arrested.”
“What will we speak about when we are as old as you?” Arviragus (Cadwal) asked. “When we shall hear the rain and wind beat during a dark December, how, in this our confining cave, shall we discourse the freezing hours away? We have seen nothing. We are like beasts. We are as subtle as the fox when it comes to seeking prey for food. We are as warlike as the wolf when it comes to what we eat. Our valor is to chase what flees away from us. We make our cage a choir, as does the imprisoned bird, and we freely sing in our bondage.”
“How you speak!” Belarius (Morgan) said. “If you only knew the city’s financial practices and had suffered from them! The art of the court is as hard to leave as it is to keep up. Attempting to climb to the top results in falling, or else the climb is so slippery that the fear of falling is as bad as falling. Think about the toil of the war, a pain that only seems to seek out danger in the name of fame and honor, both of which die in the search, and has as often a slanderous epitaph as a reputation for having done the right thing — many times a person who does the right thing is given what he does not deserve as recompense. What’s worse, the person who is censured must bow as he is censured!
“Boys, the world may read my story on my body. My body is marked with Roman swords, and my military reputation was once first among the best soldiers of note. King Cymbeline respected me, and when a soldier was the theme of conversation, my name was not far off. At that time I was like a tree whose boughs bent with fruit, but in one night, a storm or robbery — call it what you will — shook down my mellow hanging fruit, and also my leaves, and left me bare to the weather.”
“Uncertain favor!” Guiderius (Polydore) said.
“My fault was nothing — as I have told you often — but two villains, whose false oaths prevailed before my perfect honor, swore to Cymbeline that I was allied with the Romans,” Belarius (Morgan) said. “And so I was banished, and for twenty years this rock and these regions have been my world. Here I have lived in honest freedom and paid more pious debts to Heaven than in all the early years of my life.
“But go up to the mountains! I have not been speaking hunters’ language. Whoever first strikes the animal we shall eat shall be the lord of the feast; to him the other two shall minister, and we will fear no poison, which is a fear of those who live in greater state than we do. I’ll meet you in the valleys.”
Guiderius (Polydore) and Arviragus (Cadwal) exited to begin the hunt.
Alone, Belarius (Morgan) said to himself, “How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature! These boys don’t know that they are sons to the King, nor does Cymbeline dream that they are alive. They think they are my sons; and although they were raised up humbly in the cave with the ceiling that is so low that they must bow, their thoughts reach the roofs of palaces, and nature prompts them even in simple and low things to act much more nobly than others are capable of doing.
“This Polydore is the heir of Cymbeline and Britain, and the King his father called him Guiderius. By Jove, when I sit on my three-foot stool and tell stories of the warlike feats I have done, Guiderius’ spirit joins and acts out my story. When I say, ‘Thus my enemy fell, and thus I set my foot on his neck,’ then the Princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats, he strains his young sinews, and he puts himself in the posture that acts out my words.
“The younger brother, Cadwal, who was named Arviragus by Cymbeline, with equally as good acting as his older brother strikes life into my speech and shows much more his own imagination.”
An animal rustled nearby and Belarius (Morgan) said, “Listen, the game is roused!”
He then said, “Oh, Cymbeline! Heaven and my conscience know that you unjustly banished me, whereupon I stole your babes when they were three and two years old, thinking to deprive you of having your sons succeed you as King of Britain, just as you deprived me of my lands.”
He looked upward, and addressed the boys’ wet nurse (a woman who breastfed the boys when they were infants), who was now deceased, “Euriphile, you were their wet nurse; they thought that you were their biological mother, and every day they honor your grave. They think that I, myself, Belarius, who am now called Morgan, is their natural father.”
He heard more rustling in the bushes and said, “The game is afoot. It’s time to hunt.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
In December 2011, several layaway angels appeared at Kmarts and Walmarts across the United States and paid off or paid down the layaways of people they did not even know. At a Kmart in Lafayette, Indiana, almost $4,000 was donated to pay off over 15 layaway accounts. Store manager Vic Sutherland said, “It’s pretty awesome. With the economy the way it is, you wouldn’t expect it.” Shannelle Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corporation (owner of Kmart’s 1,300 stores) said that people have spent more than $412,000 to pay off or pay down more than 1,000 layaway accounts. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said the same thing is happening at its stores “from coast to coast.” For example, a man donated $11,000 to pay off the accounts of 75 families at a Haleyville, Alabama, Walmart. A man used $9,800 cash to pay off or pay down 63 layaway accounts; he then put $200 cash in a Salvation Army kettle. Assistant store manager Darlene Beverly said about the recipients of the good deed: “Some scream, some holler — with joy, of course. They cry big time.” A Kmart in Omaha, Nebraska, telephoned Lori Stearnes with the good news that someone had paid off the balance on her Kmart layaway account, which included toys and totaled $58. She said, “It was a shock, of course, and then it just made me feel warm and fuzzy.” Ms. Stearnes had set aside money for gifts, but she used it to pay off the layaway accounts of two other people. A man gave $500 to a Charles City, Iowa, Kmart to pay off or pay down the layaway accounts of other people; store manager Katie Cook said, “It was just a give-you-goosebumps kind of feeling.” Melissa Atwood learned that someone had paid off the $120 balance on her Christmas gifts in a layaway at a La Porte, Indiana Kmart; she said, “There is still good will toward men out there.”
On 11 December 2013, a woman walked into an Applebee’s in LaGrange, Kentucky. Waitress Lola Snyder was almost at the end of her shift, but she decided to wait on the woman. Ms. Snyder said, “She asked me what I liked and I recommend[ed] it to her and she was happy about it. And I looked at her and she just looked up at me, and there was a connection and she just had the warmest look and she said, ‘Thank you so much, you have a Merry Christmas.’” The woman’s bill came to $12, but she left a big tip. Ms. Snyder said, “I had to do a double-take because she had written ‘Merry Christmas, God bless you’ and left me a $200 tip. You don’t see the random act of kindness every day and it’s never happened to me.” Ms. Snyder did not get to thank the mystery woman, but she told reporter Tim Elliott at WLKY (Louisville, Kentucky), “I would throw my arms around her, and thank her and tell her that she brought my Christmas spirit to me this year, so I’m very grateful.” She said on TV, “Whoever she is, you know who are, thank you from me and my family.” Ms. Snyder planned to use the money to buy many presents for her 10-year-old son.
On 18 December 2013, Redditor RipRoaringRay posted on Imgur a photograph with this caption: “This man came in to eat alone on Sunday. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever waited on. When he finished his meal, he politely asked for his check and after paying, he quietly slipped out the door. A few minutes later, I opened the book to find this.” The photograph showed this handwritten message on the back of the slip from the receipt roll: “Sometimes when a person dines alone, the waiter treats them as a less-important ticket. You did not do that and I am grateful. Merry Christmas!” Some Redditors have not experienced less-good service while eating alone, but Redditor Irrepressible 87 explained that in some places in the United States, anyway, “It’s math. Since many/most people tip based on percent-value of their ticket, a hundred-dollar ticket from a five-person table earns a bigger tip (theoretically) than the lone dude with the $20 tab. Not always sound math, but easy to reason.”
Guy Lombardo and eight other teenagers, including his brothers, arrived in the United States from Canada with plans to make it big as musicians. They got a small job in Cleveland, Ohio, and then jobs became hard to find. On Christmas Eve, they were unhappy. They had also decided to go home — defeated. But a knock sounded on the door. They opened it, and the parents of all the teenagers were there. The members had been writing letters with fake cheerfulness, and their parents had seen through the fake cheerfulness. Their parents spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with them. A very successful Guy Lombardo wrote much later, “Their very presence, their cheering words, their show of faith in our ability to succeed was exactly the tonic we needed. We decided not to give up, but to keep trying. And the breaks finally came our way.”
On 20 December 2013, Redditor krayzin posted on Imgur a photograph of a note and a small package of chocolate. The photograph had this caption: “I work as a janitor at a large university; this made my day.” The note stated, “Dear Mr. Janitor, Thank you for a clean floor this semester. Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” Redditors made some interesting comments: 1) ihamil64 wrote, “Last year our RA had us each donate $1 to buy one of the janitors a Christmas present. He really deserved it, too; some of the things people left in the halls and bathroom were just disgusting.” 2) Switche wrote, “I can’t even clean my own house without wanting someone to thank me.”
On 26 December 2013, Redditor tompritt81 posted on Imgur a photograph of some socks and a note with this caption: “My grandparents included this note in their Christmas gift to my sister’s fiancé.” This is the note: “Ben, We did not want you to get cold feet before the wedding. Love, Nona & Gramps.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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FATHER, thou canst never know
The anguish that smote my heart
For my disobedience, the moment I felt
The remorseless wheel of the engine
Sink into the crying flesh of my leg.
As they carried me to the home of widow Morris
I could see the school-house in the valley
To which I played truant to steal rides upon the trains.
I prayed to live until I could ask your forgiveness—
And then your tears, your broken words of comfort!
From the solace of that hour I have gained infinite happiness.
Thou wert wise to chisel for me:
“Taken from the evil to come.”
The greatest accomplishments seem imperfect,
yet their usefulness is not diminished.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
yet it will be inexhaustible.
The greatest straightness seems crooked.
The most valued skill seems like clumsiness.
The greatest speech seems full of stammers.
Movement overcomes the cold,
and stillness overcomes the heat.
That which is pure and still is the universal ideal.
Tao Te Ching
A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996
A Tortoise desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her trouble. The Eagle agreed and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with her talons soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the Eagle: ‘Tortoise is good eating.’ ‘The shell is too hard,’ said the Eagle in reply. ‘The rocks will soon crack the shell,’ was the Crow’s answer; and the Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a sharp rock, and the two birds made a hearty meal of the Tortoise.
Never soar aloft on an enemy’s pinions.
Note: pinions include a bird’s flight feathers.