Saturday, December 11, 2010

Daily Reminder # 194

Just the third installment (and next to last unless I get inspired to finish it) of my unfinished children's book. I don't know why I started posting this. I was hoping I'd get inspired. So far, not so much, though I do appreciate the comments from the two of you who have been reading it. Anyone interested can find Installment 1 here and Installment 2 here

I know it's a terrible photo... but she's so hard to catch
doing anything and she's so darned GRAY!

Amanda and the Cookie Witch
Katherine E. Rabenau

The next morning on the school bus, Amanda sat further towards the back than usual, quietly observing her schoolmates.  For most of her life she had felt very lonely and out of place and had always assumed she was alone in this, but sitting observing, she realized that she was far from alone in her sense of isolation.  In fact there was so much going on that she could scarcely believe she had missed it all during a lifetime of riding back and forth each day.  It was as though before things had been out of focus and  - no it was more like before she had seen things in black and white and now suddenly there was a world of color and even that color had many subtle shades and textures.  It was awesome!  There was so much beauty and confusion and loss and hope and despair.  So much pretending. 


That afternoon when she visited Hagatharinda, Amanda could not stop talking.  “It was incredible, Hagatharinda!  All these things I never noticed before.  Billy Smith isn’t stuck up at all.  He’s just really shy.  And Margaret Hoolihan, for all her being the most popular girl in school, looks like she’s really not so sure of herself after all - like she’s afraid somehow.  I’m not sure what I mean by that.  It’s just that lots of people seemed different than what I thought I knew about them.  Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense.  You have done well.  I’d like you to spend the next few days continuing to observe the people around you, to see who they really are.  You will find that we all wear masks much of the time in this life.  Most of us wear more than one - different masks for different occasions and most of us are not even really aware that we are doing it, though there are some people whose masks are conscious and intentional.  Make that part of your study.  See if you can tell who is “acting” and who is simply hiding behind a wall they don’t even know they have built.  And begin to look at the masks you yourself wear.  This can be done most easily by observing your reaction to others.  You don’t have to do anything about any of this at present.  Simply try to become increasingly aware of yourself and the world around you.”
“I don’t wear masks, Hagatharinda.”
“Don’t you, though?” Hagatharinda smiled.  “Don’t you?  Hmmm. I wonder about that. Do you really never pretend to be feeling something you are not? Do you always cry when your feelings are hurt or don’t you sometimes put on a smile so other’s won’t think you are a baby...”
“Well.....  That’s not a mask, though.  That’s just ....”
“A mask.... Oh, my... Oops....”
“I think you have earned a glass of milk and one of my special cookies. You are a good student, Amanda.  Most masks arise out of an instinct to protect ourselves because we are ashamed of our feelings or afraid of being hurt if we are seen to be vulnerable. And we often wind up hurting ourselves in the process.”
“Boy, these cookies are good, Hagatharinda.  Boy!  Yum...   Hagatharinda?”
“Yes, Amanda?”
“Do you ever wear masks?”
“What do you think, child? You will have to observe and answer that question for yourself.”


At home that evening, Amanda watched her parents as they went about their nightly routines, noticing the changes in her mother’s face and voice as she spoke on the phone with first a friend and then the local pastor and then the playful almost shy way she greeted Amanda’s father.  And she started observing herself too as she went about her chores and talked to (or even thought about) different people in her life.

Next afternoon, as she shared her observations with Hagatharinda, the old woman smiled.  “You are very observant, my dear.  Do you know what discernment is?”
“I think so, but I’m not sure.”
“Discernment is about looking at things very closely or carefully and distinguishing what’s true from what’s false, or sometimes simply finding shades of meaning.  Let’s see if I can give you an example...  Well, why not go right to the point.  When you were observing your mother last night, you noticed that her voice and face and body changed depending on who she was talking to.  Discernment here is - in relation to our current lesson - is about recognizing which, if any, of those changes were masks and which were simply different aspects of her personality.  Do you get what I mean?  Not every change in a person is a mask.  There is a different look and feel and energy when someone is hiding his or her true self.”
“Gee, I don’t know if I can do that, Hagatharinda.”
“But we do it all the time in life, we just don’t always think about it.  And unfortunately we are often taught to discount our inherent instinct for discerning the true from the false.  Does your father ever tease you or play pretend games with you?”
“Sure, sometimes.  He’s funny.”
“Well, you can tell that he’s playing, can’t you?”
“Yes. Mostly.”
“That’s discernment.”
“Oooohhhh! I get it.”
“We human beings are incredibly complex and all of us have many different facets to our personalities.  We all have magical selves and playful selves and serious selves, silly selves and thoughtful selves, critical selves... and on and on.  The longer we live, the more aspects the Who of who we are develops. Right now, you are relating to my serious, “teacher” self, but on another day we may sit and play with the cat or make cookies or do something silly and you will be relating to another part of me.  Does that make sense? Just like there is a you who is a daughter, a you who plays with your friends, a you who is here talking with me.  You are truly yourself in these relationships although you are different in each situation.  Make sense?”
“Kinda... So how do I dis... you know - how do I do that?”
“Good question.”
“Use all your senses and your common sense.”
“What do you mean, Hagatharinda?”
“Well, what are the senses?”
“That’s easy.  Taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing...”
“Ok.  How would you use them to discern whether someone is wearing a mask or being real?”
“Uh, I guess I’d watch them and listen to them talk.”
“Anything else?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, listening and watching are good, but there’s something else which I think is the real key to true discernment.  It’s hard to define it.  It’s partly feeling, partly listening.  Of course you need to listen to the other person talk, but you also need to listen with your body and with your sixth sense, your intuition.  I believe that we can “feel” truth - like we feel hot and cold.  Over the next week or so, take some time to tune into how you feel when different people greet you. See if you can’t sense a difference.”
“Ok. This sounds hard, though.”
“Not really.  You already do it, I think.  After all, you weren’t afraid of me, were you? Even though most people are. Now you just need to practice being aware of what you feel and learn to trust and listen to your natural instincts.  And you had better get on home - time surely does fly when you are with me Amanda.”
“Gnight, Hagatharinda.  I’ll go home and dis... what’s that word again?”
“Discernment.  D... i... s... c... e... r... n... m... e...n...t....   Now, go forth and discern, brave maiden and have fun doing it. Remember that the key to true discernment is to always listen to your heart.”
“Ok. Gnight.  See you soon.”
“Good night, Sweet Amanada.”


Some things I'm grateful for today:

  • Angel and Tara Grace
  • carrots
  • reiki
  • angels
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • indoor plumbing
  • my cane
  • my legs
  • my red chair
  • UPS
  • orange pineapple smoothies
  • my microwave
  • my home
  • my nieces
  • my nephew
  • my great niece and nephew
  • my new Powershot camera with lots of pixels & zoom
  • my BIG Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes win
  • my Bose Sound System
  • my 22" Vizio flat screen TV
  • my new clothes dryer
  • winning lottery tickets
  • zero balance credit cards
  • mail
  • Netflix
  • music
  • my computer
  • laughter
  • love
  • life


Argent said...

I think the main idea of this story is pretty good and you do have a good way with words when getting H to convey her teachings. Right about now, though, I'm looking for a bit of dramatic tension and some more of Amanda out and about. It's all going very nicely, perhaps too nicely :-) oh and the kitty pictures are great!

The Bug said...

I agree with Argent - I think more detail on what she's doing in her life would be good. I'm enjoying the story a lot though.

quilly said...

I love the concept of this story and the characters, but right now it just isn't working. There is no dramatic tension. Nothing is at stake. I have an idea ....

Amanda's parents didn't want Amanda to spend time with Hagatharinda. What happens if they don't change their minds and she defies them?

Consider, she is learning these lessons from Hagatharinda while her conscious is bothering her because she knows she is behaving falsely, but she continues anyway.

And yes, Hagatharinda knows what is happening in Amanda's life, but she lets it continue because of the lesson Amanda will learn when her parent's discover her deception.

Also, slow the story down. There is too much telling and lecturing and not enough action. What you are sharing with us is an outline for a novel more than a short story.