I went to the big top, and there I saw what I believed to be many different objects and different people too
First I encountered The Listener, I did not know his name, it was not quite like that, but you see he was leaning forward and nodding wisely at the words of all that came near to him
Then, well then I saw The Grudge Bearer, he was big, and seemed to be carrying the woes of the world in a bag all his own. He marched thunderously in circle after circle pointing and appointing blame, offering that bag to anyone foolish enough to stray too close
Skipping and jumping like a clown just beyond hers and the listeners reach I could not miss The Jester, tumbling and cavorting though obstacles lay all around, as if she and only she sidestepped such impediment with ease
And last, and by no means least or less, dressed in most silky hedonist minimalism I spied The Aesthete, smiling sly invitation to the adorned palace of beauty, I could not be certain at the first whether he or she, yet radiating magnetism I vainly decided upon she.
There was one other, an Elder(ly), so non-descript as to have been the possibility of man or of woman in long distant past, and yet survived still. She (I decided) was sat in a small row boat. The boat had an abundance of holes and a huge rudder at the rearmost stern (stern -strict, serious, forbidding) and a single oar (awe).
She wore a bright yellow sou’wester and had one hand carefully cupped. I did not have a label for her in that moment, and indeed pushed the term Oracle back down in to my mind as ‘not appropriate’ behind it whispered another word ‘Venerate’
And so in moments I had objectified and labelled the occupants of the big top, the meanings dawned on me only later
The four drew close to the one though she did not seemingly beckon, and my own attention sharpened.
Time stood still as it will do at times of portent
The Elder (ly) one spoke
‘What then if your sole purpose is to live 80 years, in strife and mostly suffering predation and personal disappointment, never quite ‘being’ who you thought you would be.’
She paused and looked up, seemingly to ensure everyone was watching, and then opened one tiny delicate hand. Sat perfectly still in that cupped hand was a butterfly beautiful and unseen until that very moment, wings not moving; the speaker continued.
‘But then one day that 80 year old you, standing upon the kerb of the busiest road reaches out a hand, and with that hand checks a stranger, a small child as it happens. Checks the child from stepping blindly in front of a careering waggon, though unnoticed seemingly a small good deed.
And that soon after having lived your four score years you quietly depart this life to whatever awaits.’
The elder (ly) one paused again, seemingly to rest her whispering voice.
She smiled at the butterfly and said quietly
‘Go then Aristotle’.
And the butterfly took flight disappearing quickly in to the dim upper reaches of the big top; the speaker looked up momentarily and then continued
‘And though you will never know it that small action, that reaching of your hand, an un-thanked kindness in all the plans of the greater universe allows a path to continue that might otherwise fracture and burn away forever’.
The four were rapt, even the Jester had stopped cavorting and tumbling and sat cross legged in front of the small boat. The Grumbling Blamer (for that also is a term for the bearer of grudges) then interrupted, thinking that his right so it seemed.
‘Whose fault then old one?’
The elder looked upon The Grumbling Blamer with something apparently between benevolence and prissiness for several long moments, but she did not name him, merely continuing after a moments length.
‘So that 80 year learned moment of rightful choice might continue to fruition the journey of a child. A child that will become a man, who in turn will father a daughter who one day when your grand-children grow towards twilight will stand up stronger than the others and so save them all.’
The Listener was leaning far forwards, almost in to the boats gunnel.
The Aesthete, who had feigned interest initially whilst preening and picking at her raiment now sat staring at the boats occupant.
The Jester was an astonishing sight, where before she had skipped and jumped, entertaining and demanding attention in equal measure, she was now sat perfectly still with tears coarsing down both cheeks, almost beatific in those tears.
The Grudge Bearer looked as if he had more steam to escape him, but somewhere in the background I saw some dawning even upon his agitated features.
He looked dartingly left and right, and finally upwards to spy the butterfly gently descending.
Aristotle, hadn’t that been what she called him?
My Greek was rusty but those lessons then came back to me, exactly I suppose as the universe meant them too.
It was Aristotle that had named the butterfly in ancient Greek ‘Psyche’, and also near was the word psykhe (the emerging mind) and bride of Eros (Love) and so that too was resolved (ha ha) I supposed
The Elder (ly) one spoke lastly then
‘It is not given to us to know the purpose of all of the parts, though we are offered the faith to be one of those parts, and so that is your good moral compass.
See you the boat I now sit in?
It is the reality I have defined
See it has many holes?
It sinks slowly though I seek to patch it over and over, and these are the wisdoms of my experiences.
See you the rudder sits at the stern?
As it should, this rudder is my moral purpose and so a serious and considered thing, grown large with many years of navigating.
All around is the ocean, though you cannot here spy that torrent that only is your blindness
It is chaotic and goes on forever and forever and forever.
And within it lies eternally the power to break my reasoned framework (this boat) into one million tiny fragments.
Yet still, I may keep my boat afloat in some fashion by patching, and by moving around within it, for a little while.
And so then I may try as hard as I might to row across the endless ocean.
And more, if I listen patiently to the winds I may learn somewhat which way to navigate, and lastly, and by no means leastly, then I may learn too when it is safe to free Aristotle into those winds.
This is my journey, and yours too if you will see’
The elder (ly) one stopped then, and in fact never spoke again, her task was done though each of the other occupants had not yet spied that end, in her or in them.
Eventually each of the four spoke and each heard, or did not hear, moved or did not move, left and yet stayed.
I looked inwards and ceased to look outward then, finding without surprise that I was sat in a small boat.
It was filled with many holes, and it had a far smaller rudder which I held stiffly in one hand.
My other hand was cupped and closed around a gentle tickling, reminding me that nothing was an object, and everything else was a meaning.
Looking down I saw my oar (awe).
And so then I loosed my hand upon the rudder and let the currents guide me ..