Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nothing More Than Nothing

Tell me the weight of a snowflake", a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.

"Nothing more than nothing", came the answer.

"In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal-mouse said.

"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow -- not heavily, not in a raging blizzard -- no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch -- nothing more than nothing, as you say -- the branch broke off."

Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.

The dove, an authority on this since the time of Noah, thought about the story for awhile, and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come to the world."

This appears in various forms across the web, and is referenced either as "Thus Spoke the Caribou" from "New Fables" by Kurt Kauter, or from "Synchronicity", by Joseph Jaworsky

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yuletide magic

With 10 days to go before Christmas, I invite you all to revel in the holiday spirit. No, I don't mean the shopping. In fact, I'm suggesting that you try to tune out the calls for shopping and insane consumerism that has given this time of year a bad name.

As winter comes upon us, the need to come together as community, as family, as humanity is stronger than ever. The nights grow long, the days are too short, and the ever-present cold is unnerving. In this season, we need to come together to share what we have, to share the warmth of our hearth fires, and to protect each other. Because if we don't, the harshness of winter can literally kill us, both in body and in spirit.

Instead of griping about the consumerism and the crassness of the holiday, I invite you to extend your generosity of time and effort to people who need you. Do what you can, when you can.

  • If you see someone in distress, ignore your first impulse to not get involved and go see what you can do to help. No gesture is too small.
  • If you see someone stuck in the snow, go help them out, even if it makes you late for something. 
  • Whenever you can, look people in the eyes, shake their hands, and wish them a happy holiday. And mean it.
  • Donate your time, your talents, and if you can afford it, your funds to charities that support people in need, either locally or abroad.

If you do all these things already, do it more.

And if you have the good fortune of being the recipient of someone else's generosity, be gracious, modest, and appreciative. Also, take the time to mark this moment as a happy memory. It will change how you relate to this time of year.

The darkness at this time of year can be deceiving. It fools us into thinking we are alone and that there is no one else out there in the darkness. But the truth is that when you share your light with others, you end up with more light, revealing all the people who are there with you, who have been with you that whole time. It's easy to forget that, but I'm reminding that it's true. You are not alone.

I wish you all a memorable, safe, loving, generous holiday season. All of us are looking forward to your generosity of spirit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mythic Rap -- Fionn MacCool and the Old Man

I haven't updated this blog in awhile! But now I have a new piece to share and it's very exciting!

So after seeing Professor Elemental perform at the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, I decided to rewrite some of the tales I know as rap lyrics (Mythic Rap). I just finished my first one and it flows fairly well. I thought it would sound great with music, so I found a track by Celtic Cross called 22.

The rest of the song doesn't feel quite right with the lyrics, but the rhythm structure works. I may be able to get some musician friends to help me with that.

Here are the lyrics:

Once upon a time on the isle of green
There lived the greatest warrior that you have ever seen
Not Robin Hood! That’s England you fool!
I’m speaking of Fionn MacCool

And his Fianna. A hearty band of men,
known to kill a giant now and then.
They visited Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
and the adventures they had live on in the tales

That we tell. And so to the Isle of Aran
Why they went to a place so barren
it’s a mystery. But they never went back,
and the tale behind that
is mighty good crack.

Fionn and the boys were exploring that hill
When a dark fog fell and the air was still
For these great trackers, it was quite a fright
But through the fog, they spied a light.

They followed that light and they found a window
of a house that was filled with its warm glow
Fionn came forward and knocked on the door
An old man appeared and at them he glowered.

But being a good host, he let them in
So they sat at the fire, every face a grin
A girl appeared to serve them bread and ale
And the Fianna wooed her with their tall tales

But she pushed them away, though they persisted
Her response was the same and she insisted,
“When we courted, I was ignored by you,
So now it’s too late. Our love is through.”

The Fianna all swore they didn’t know her.
Fionn listened and he concurred. 
But he said nothing, except to gloat
Through the front door, there came a goat.

The beast knocked the tables, it drank the ale
It bit the Fianna until they wailed
The old man cried “I must inquire.
Can you tie that goat down by the fire?”

But Fionn failed to tame that goat
So it was the old man’s turn to grin and gloat
He caught the beast easily and tied it up
The lads had to return to their cups.

These strange events, he could not ignore
Fionn said  “Old man, you are more
than you seem. Talk now and talk fast.
Who is that fair bonnie lass?”

“Ahhhh... Fionn MacCool,”
“That girl is Youth. The truth is cruel.
For the young cannot appreciate their good days
And the old cannot catch her, try as they may.

Upon hearing this, Fionn stood proud
He faced the old man who refused to be cowed.
“Tell me old man, what is that beast?
For its strength seems unnaturally increased.”

“Ahhhh… Fionn MacCool,”
That goat is the World that you think you rule.
Anyone who tries to tame its spirit
Can only succeed in destroying it.”

Fionn and the Fianna drew their swords
And with a single voice, they raged and roared.
“Old man,” shouted Fionn “Tell me true.
“Who are we facing? Who are you?”

“Ahhhh… Fionn MacCool,”
“I am the master of the world, it is mine to rule.
As great as you are, when you draw your last breath
I will best you, for I am Death.”

Before the Fianna could make their attack
They all fell asleep, their jaws went slack.
They awoke in a cave, chilled to their bones
No people, no goats, they were alone.

They gathered their packs, they gathered their kits
They were all shaken and scared from their wits
From the Isle of Aran, they were quickly spurned
And for the rest of their days, they never returned.

Copyright© 2010 John David Hickey