When I approached Herb Thiel about putting together a website, I presented my idea of the Bard, the Beast, and the Brother in a fantasy medieval setting.
It took a little while to see that he had labeled me The Storyteller and I have been taking steps to live up to the title ever since.
For now, I tell stories of life experience and try to make them entertaining for you, my readers, family, and friends.
Now, the story.
Recently, several of my posts have resulted in very divisive conversations. They were thought provoking and we were able to see each other in perhaps different ways. Real friends don’t always agree. When iron sharpens iron, we grow and make great decisions.
The other day, I was talking with world renowned Ian Baird and he challenged me to dig deep on how I view the world. I have gotten myself in a lot of scrapes and he was concerned.
I don’t have a photo of him so I paid an actor to fill the role.
Ian challenged me to dig, and dig I did, for more cattails. See, I have been attempting to establish them for some time, but the ducks keep digging them up.
So I went down to the creek bank and picked up more. I remembered the last time I went and wore a shirt all the way to my wrists. There were stinging nettles last time.
I took my time and walked carefully through the long thin leaves. Grasshoppers, wasps, centipedes and spiders abounded. I felt a sharp pain in my left leg. Distracted, I had stepped in the nettles.
I called my Beloved and told her I got exposed really good. She suggested that I come home immediately given my past experience. Stubbornly, I refused. I came for something and I was going after it.
Now, last time, the chemicals in the nettles made for a pain and throbbing that made me quite miserable. This time it was irritating, but I suffered no blisters and the pain went away rather fast. Perhaps my body had become accustomed to it.
With a love for science, I told myself the exposure was was a good thing and I could document my findings, but that was a lie.
Inwardly, and rather uncomfortably, I was confronting what I was afraid of.
My thoughts trailed off to my post about a number of dog encounters I experienced.
I have walked a lot of dark alleyways, easements, backroads, railroad tracks, and other unsafe places for a solo hiker for many many years raising my chances of a negative encounter. I have told myself,
“self, I am experiencing undiscovered beauty in these non touristy areas.”
Am I telling myself lies here as well?
Is there a correlation with this and my nettle experience? I returned to a place that was negative for the impractical.
What about other areas of my life?
When I examine myself, I work in a prison, a hard, negative confrontational place.
When I attend church, I serve as an usher, a reminder to some that appropriate behavior is in order.
I have looked way back. I think I have the answer. I will do what every pathetic snowflake does on the shrink couch. I blame my father.
He may or may not remember this, but I used to be terrified of the dark.
When he was in basic training, I was 5 years old or so and quite vulnerable to abuse.
A wicked man locked me in a basement numerous times and was quite adept at psychological intimidation of 5 year olds. The basement was dark, and bad things happened.
I told my dad that I was afraid of the dark but did not tell him why. I was too young to understand the complexities.
None of this was his fault. He was not there, and it is quite common for men to join the military. I do not blame my dad for the actions of the evil man.
Anyway, my dad says “son, you can’t walk in fear or be afraid of the dark. When you get a chance, you face that fear. Look it square in the eyes.”
This is where I fault my father
Well, being a mostly obedient 6 or 7 year old, I planned put how I would do that. Being a concrete thinker, looking the dark square in the eyes would be quite a challenge.
So, one night, I went to the bathroom and brought a blanket. I was rather nimble and climbed the door knob handle. Precariously, I put the blanket corner on the corners of the door. I jumped down and pulled it shut.
Darkness. Pure dreaded darkness.
Terror enveloped me and I was choked in it. I could not stand and curled in a ball. Everything screamed to open the door. I could not. My dad said I could not walk in fear.
Walk nothing. I was fetal. I mustered my courage and tried not to cry aloud. I might awaken someone and all my work would be in vain.
I climbed the toilet to get on the sink where the mirror was. I was told by the evil man that creatures would pull me under. That had to end. I put a lid on that fear right then and there.
Feet on the sides of the sink, I looked in the mirror. My eyes had focused somewhat. Looking back at me was the most sinister creature I ever saw. I was looking fear in the dark. Trembling, I knew this was the bitter end and resigned myself to a grisly fate.
I was not thinking good thoughts. A voice on my head said, “if you’re not scared, call Bloody Mary.”
Now, in first grade, no one ever called for bloody mary looking in a mirror. I had been taught this was a death sentence. I wispered. Bloody Mary over and over looking in the mirror.
Nothing happened. I refused to move. I was afraid if I turned around, she would be there.
The voice vanished. It was real in my brain. I felt peace. I felt a strangly peaceful presence. I feel like it impressed upon me the words, “You are not afraid of the dark, you are a light in the dark.” There were no words, just an impression.
I quietly took my blanket down and went back to bed. I have not really been afraid of the dark since.
I have taken Ian’s challenge of self examination seriously. The story of the dark is my first recollection of pushing into my fears like the nettles, or the alleyways, backtrails, the tracks , and the prison.
I suppose a lot of my “scrapes” are self imposed as I have this urge to press into what I am afraid of.
Well, there you have it.
When I approached Herb Thiel about putting together a website, I presented my idea of the Bard, the Beast, and the Brother. He called me The Storyteller. Hopefully, I lived up to it today.