Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Wise man and Four Drowning Dogs

A wise man and his student were walking along a road early in the morning. As they walked the sharp bend on the road, it became a murky, deep swamp. As the wise man and the student decided to go around the swamp, they suddenly heard the cries of a dog. The dog was tangled in roots and could not free itself.

The wise man stepped forward into the water. The student objected. "Master," he said. "You do not know how deep it is. You could get trapped yourself. Leave it to its fate. It is only a dog."

"Yes, I could do that. And it is just a dog," said the wise man.  "But to that dog, he is the only one. To save him is the right thing to do."

The wise man waded into the muddy water. He untangled the dog and brought it to higher ground. The dog wagged his tail and licked his hand in gratitude. Then, it turned down the road and walked away.

"What a good dog!" exclaimed the  student. "He will receive many blessings in life."

The master said nothing. The two men continued on their way, slowly around the swampy area. After a while, the two men heard a crying dog. Searching behind a fallen tree, a different dog was trapped under a heavy limb.

This time, the master and the student waded into the dark water. Both of them hefted the tree limb and freed the dog. The master took up the dog and carried it to dry ground. Once the dog set all four feet to the ground, it turned and walked away.

"What an ungrateful dog!" spat the student, picking up a stone. "I will teach him a lesson!"

The wise master reached out and grabbed the arm of the student. "No, you will not," said the master firmly. "That dog owes us nothing. Not even gratitude. We saved that dog because it was the right thing to do and not for reward. It was our choice to save him."

The student dropped the rock and nodded. "Of course, master. I don't now what I was thinking."

The two men began again, walking carefully around the swamp. Soon, they heard another dog, crying and whining from the deeper part of the waters. The men found the dog struggling in a deep section full of weeds. It was being pulled down under the waters, and barely had time to breath before it was pulled under again and again.

The master and student rushed to its aid. The student held up the dog above the water while the master freed its legs. AS the two men brought the dog to the higher ground, the dog in its panicked state bit the student's arm. The student cried out and dropped the dog. The dog fell to the ground, tucked its tail, and began to run away.

"You ungrateful cur! You bit me!" yelled the student. He picked up a rock to throw at the hound.

But the master quickly grabbed his arm again. "No, do not hurt that dog," said the master firmly. "I know he bit you  and he hurt you. But in his panicked state, he did not know what he was doing. Show mercy and forgiveness for his reaction."

The student dropped his rock. "You are indeed wise, Master."

The two continued their journey again. They were nearing the end of the swamp when they heard the cries of a dog. This dog was sinking in a bog. It howled and cried loudly, as it struggled to swim.

The master and the student rushed to its aid. The student waded into the bog and the master stayed on the solid ground, holding out a strong tree branch to aid his student. The student grabbed the dog and struggled to bring it to dry ground.

But the dog struggled, and snapped at the student. The student had to combat the dog and struggle in the water. He reached out to grab the branch, the dog would lash out. The student had to let go of the branch and wrestle with the dog. Finally, the dog and the student reached dry land.

But as the master pulled man and dog to land, the dog leaped from the waters and began to attack the master. The student stood and took the branch to defend his master. The dog turned from the master to the student. The dog leaped onto the young man and fought with him. The master came up behind the dog, picked it up, and threw it back into the bog. The dog whined and struggled against the waters. And the two men watched as the beast slowly sank and drowned.

The wise master tended the wounds of his student. The student asked, "Master, why did you throw the dog back into the water? Why not further away on dry land?"

"Because the dog would have come back to attack us again," said the master. "When saving a creature becomes detrimental to your life, it is best to throw it back where it came from and walk away."

The student nodded. Both men continued their journey out of the swamp.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Conversations with Dolls

I have often wondered about dreams. I don't wonder about meanings as much as I wonder about reality versus fantasy. For some dreams, when I wake up, I know it was a dream. These dreams are the ones that are "off the wall" weird.

For example, I am weight training, while walking through a reverse zoo. In my left hand I am holding about ten pounds, in my right hand, I am holding a hundred pounds. Animals are wandering a maze with me, and looking at humans in cubicles behind glass enclosures. I wander into a kitchen. I put down my "iron" and tell the cook they are hungry. She gives me bags of popcorn. I go through the zoo maze, giving out bags of popcorn to the people "working". It was pretty bizarre. I know that was a dream.

But it didn't last. I blinked out. Then, I blinked into another place. It was dark. Lights from the windows were not enough to give me a good look at where I was. For moment, I thought I was in the Siberling Mansion. But, I knew I was not. It didn't feel right. Hospital? Courthouse? School? Institution? I walk through the (Foyer? ((because it felt like I should be a little Posh?)) The rooms felt jumbled. Like it didn't match what the place actually was. But I made my way to a little room, that was way, way, over crowded.

I am standing just outside the room, looking in through the door. There is a glass table (?) in the center if this room. Covering every square inch of this small room, is toys, but mostly dolls. I mean, dolls, dolls, dolls...Jesus! the dolls. Doll overload. (There is a shelf on one of the walls, that reminds me of the movie Labyrinth. In Sarah's bedroom, one of her doll shelves is two or three level of miniature arches, where the toys are perched.) Anyway, standing, sitting, hovering, perched upside down on the ceiling, sitting on the tops of shelves, everywhere you could shove a person into space without regard for gravity, is about 25- 30 different people (?). It is really crowded in there.

At first, I think I do not want to go in there. But, they looked so sad. It was heart breaking. There was a deep sense of "cast away" in that room. Like someone wanted to love them so badly, but couldn't bring themselves to do it. But somewhere in the real v. unreal portion of myself, I think, this must be a dream. It doesn't matter if it is "real" or not. Obviously, if MY brain is sad, I am here to make it happy. If this is "real", I am here to help them be happy. So, I decide to make it a happier place. What is it going to hurt?

I knock on the side the side of the door frame. The occupants get VERY upset quickly. Some of them melt into the dolls. That's when I really get it. Now, I am SURE I need to give a little happiness. I walk in and tell them not to be frightened.

First, I wave my hand and the space expands dimensionally. Meaning, I kept the height and width but extended the length of the room, by like 200 feet. (Now the space has a look and a feel similar to the empty and endless tea cup in Alice in wonderland. It's hard to explain) I wave my hand again. The table in the middle of the room, also expands. And now, it is laid out with every kind of tea party luncheon thing that I can fill it with, cucumber sandwiches, scones, cup cakes, vegetables, savory tarts, stuffed mushrooms, and all kinds of tea, with options for honey, sugar, and lemon. The table is set with a pretty china and silverware set, straight out of Downton Abbey. I happily announce to the room, that all the dolls are invited to my Happy un-Birthday tea party. (I may as well, it's MY dream. I can do what I want.)

At the mention of "tea party", between 7-10 spirits pop out for a look. There are several exchanges of whispering through the room. I think nothing of it, I walk over to the table and pour myself a cup of tea. And begin to sing the "Happy un-Birthday" song to myself.

It takes a few minutes, but soon the room is filled with jolly voices, singing the happy un-birthday song. Soon, there is a good feeling in the room and everyone is comfortable, and out in the open.

Sherlock Holmes, once said, that if you wanted to know the in and outs of a great house, you must visit the local public house. Dude, he was correct. These guys knew the problems of the house. (I didn't know I was in a house, BTW. Now, I know) The idiot lawyer on the top floor, was an asshole. He was constantly trying to enforce "rules" that do not apply in death, to the spirits of the house. I made a joke about the "Lawful Good Paladin" and one of the males rolled his eyes. "You would think he would get it by now, but you can't fix stupid."

The girl in the basement fancied herself a witch. But she played with things she didn't understand and ended up unleashing her own opposing force. Now, the opposite is gone, the opposing force is confused. It goes back and forth from causing trouble to helping people. Chaos is pretty much the sum of it. It is unpredictable at best. Which does make it a concern for the others, but they are adjusting to the new way of things. However, there is a battle going on.

The lawful good paladin upstairs and the chaos in the basement, has unbalanced the entire building. That sounds opposite from what I think is "supposed" to be going on. I figured the opposing forces would balance. But they shook their heads and groaned. "too much different and not enough same" is the answer I got back. With the additional influx of people, and the surge of people to come, is a worry for the occupants of that doll room. They are scared, worried, and anxious.

So, the lady in the basement takes it upon herself to try to remedy the issue. She begins to chase people off. I shrug and say that never works. It isn't her fault. That is a very typical response from a spiritual entity. And it doesn't work.

The others tell me of plans. They decide that they are going to try to "cut and run" the moment they get the chance. I tell them that this also is not going to happen. It is a temporary thing and eventually, they will find their way back to the room of dolls, whether they like it or not. A couple of the older ones agree with me and say something like "see we told you."

I set my tea cup down. "Look, I say, this place, is obviously some kind of museum. And with the overwhelming number of spirits, I am going to assume that this is Zaffis museum of haunted items"

They shake their heads.

Oh, bother. I forgot something. I forgot to take into account the thing I did NOT observe. There was no Annabelle in a glass case anywhere in the room.


They nod their heads.

 I roll my eyes. "Well, in that case, you have an advantage you don't know you have," I said. Teacups down and all are silent. I continue. "Zak, doesn't know it but he has the blessing of Persephone. Why do you think he is attracted to all these things?" There is a low mumble through the room. "If he has the blessing of Persephone, then YOU have the protection of Persephone, I can tell Persephone, this room exists. She can upkeep it, if you desire. I could do it, but I am mortal. When I die, the spell would fade. But, if Persephone maintained it, it would never fade." There was another mumble through the room. "But I imagine that you would have to like flowers and you would not be allowed to mess with them." I shrug. "It is up to you. And you can't get something for nothing. You must decide."

"Also..." I pause. The room looks back at me. "Part of that price might be a little...hmm..strange. But if you think about it as "paying rent" then it might not bother you as much. What you have to look out for and watch very carefully, is not to hurt anyone. It might be a difficult task considering that you are spirits and sometimes you hurt the living without meaning too."

"It is a great challenge," said an elderly doll. (Elder in her age, not that she looks like she is old. Her doll has been around longer, that's all)

"You have to "keep up appearances"," I said.

"What's that mean?" asked one.

"The welfare of this museum depends on income, money. People are not what they used to be. They do not rely on farming for substance. They cannot go outside, cut down a tree, and repair the roof. People, who are the custodians of this property, need money. Money that comes from people who like to look at scary things. People who like to face the spiritual realm, then go home thinking they escaped for a moment. That is the point of mortals."

The room goes extremely silent. I let that sink in, then continue. "The upkeep of this building will be reliant on you making an occasional "show of power." It doesn't have to be big and showy. You do not have to "break the laws". Just keep doing what you already are doing. More people that come, the more money they get for the upkeep and expansion of the museum. This will give you purpose. It does make a difference in people's lives. These things, give people hope. It gives them hope of the possibility of life after death. I know this is different from what you might have been created for. Dolls are companions for children. But modern children aren't like they used to be. If you do not evolve into greater purpose, you will become bitter and evil. I don't think that is what you want. I think you fear that most of all. Because that is not why you were created. That is not your core personality."

There was a surge of confusion through the room. "Simply put, you have an opportunity here for a home. People will come to you. Use that as a blessing, not a curse. And that will continue for a long time. And you will be able to have a relationship, a friendship with your custodian. One that he cannot have with you."

Again, a surge of confusion.

"Zak, is your custodian. But he fears you. Of all the things in this whole building, and the worst of them is..." I point to a shelf. "...clowns." I drop my point and laugh. "But that clown is here, despite his fear. Because he LOVES every single one of you. He has not cast you away to forget, he has brought you together because he loves you. Not the thing you inhabit, the thing you are. The spirit you are. Even though he can't see you, he has faith you exist. His love is unconditional. It is child like. Is that not what you were created for? To protect that child and his love?"

The room is silent but suddenly filled with awe. It flows through the room and fills it with something I can't put into words. The heaviness that was  in there, is now gone. Like a giant divine broom swept it away. The elder said, "We never thought of it like that."

"It something to consider. Not everyone will agree. But this is your new purpose. This is love you seek. Why turn it away?"

"We don't plan too." said the clown. "But we can't control the others."

"They, too, must have purpose. Give them a purpose."

"And how are we to do that?"

"You said the lawyer upstairs wants to enforce the rules, yes?"


"You are dolls, play his game!"


"It is a game. Let chaos and the lawyer have their trials. YOU be the judge and jury."

"What about the others. The others,"

"Ah, those others. Well, give them a chance to voice their trauma if they have one. Let them bring their complaints to your court. It might help them move on. Who knows. For you, who can't or don't want to, you have purpose now. Items will coming in and out of here all the time, just as much as the living...and the dead for that matter. Build your community. This is your domain. You must dictate it. Through that, Zak will get his EVP's, goosebumps, and partial apparitions. Everyone is happy that way."

"Isn't that dishonest? Isn't that manipulating him and us?"

"No, that is business, exchange, and symbiosis. You are living together and working together, for the benefit of all involved. And if you do not do it soon, something else will move in, and make everyone miserable," I said. "This is your opportunity to make it a happy place. Your very own, real version, of "Night at the Museum", where everything is alive, has a life, AND a quality of life. A place where during the day, you are loved by many, many people, and at night, you may love yourselves."

"But therein lies the rub, if you create a place of goodness, where some spirited items can find their resolutions, some must stay behind to maintain it. Otherwise, the "haunted" factor will go away and all that will remain is random items. The obvious choice is to chose those who MUST stay. That choice is dolls. Those spirits who were created for this world, not the other. Dolls are the natural protectors of what is good, happy, and innocent," I said. "Also keep in mind that, Innocent doesn't mean helpless. Kora, the Queen of the Underworld is a child, and she is powerful and creepy in her own right. You also have that that power. But don't use it to harm, the people will stop coming and stop bringing their money.  You must find a way to instill scary without endangering your source of income. Let Zak help you, while you help him. If anything comes in here that doesn't want to follow your rules, he can do something about it. Trust me. Evil fears being trapped. It doesn't fear death. Evil cannot die, but it can be trapped. Beeltejuice."

I refill my cup of tea as the others begin to talk among themselves. The younger ones explain the movie references to the older ones. I go back to my inner battle, real or unreal. I do not know. I feel like both but not enough of either to make a clear judgement. Which, of course, goes against what the hell just happened. How can I be so damn logical in a dream? (And as I write this out, it appears this took a very long long time to say and do, but, as it happened, it took no time at all.)

At this point, the room grows very quiet and still. One of the spirits puts his finger to his lips, and reaches out to touch my shoulder. There are footsteps outside the room. Then, the footsteps come inside the room.

I shit you not, I am dumb struck...fucking dumbstruck...as a guy, whom I do not recognize, tip toes into the room. His hand is extended outward and holding a recording device. "Hello?" He says. "Is anyone there?"

The room is silent. I can see everything, this guy can't. He walks right through me and the table. "I just got goosebumps and I am standing in a cold spot. It's about waist high," he says. He moves around the room slowly. "If there is a spirit here who wants to speak, please do not be afraid. Please come and speak into the recording device."

Further shock! Standing at the door, is this professor looking dude. Dressed in tweed suit, looking down his nose at me. I look back at the spirits, and they have slipped back into the dolls they inhabit. One of the dolls, shakes it head at me and points. The hand drops, making a small, tiny, little thunk. The guy with the device, nearly shits his pants and curses loudly. The professor at the door blows in, next to me. He starts ranting about how I am not supposed to be there. The guy with the device starts yelling for a melo-meter.

For me, this shit is too fucking funny not to laugh about. The professor can't grab me, his hands go right through me. There are now two men in the doll room, both of which are freaking out because the devices are blipping the fuck out. The professor is getting upset. A dark chick comes in the door, because she is also confused over the ruckus. The professor starts shouting that both women are not to be in this room "during hours" and he is going to "report us to the authorities if we do not leave, right this very second!" I am laughing my ass off. The dolls are frozen. The professor barges out of the room, as he wipes the anger sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. The dark chick laughs too but leaves as there is enough chaos in the room, she knows she isn't needed. And the room, suddenly goes dead and silent once again. I swear to god, twenty minutes pass before the two men finally give up and leave. But in the dream, it all happens in 30 seconds. It is so hard to explain, that all that can pass so quickly, yet so much happen at the same time.

After everything dies down, I ask the room. "Does that happen often? Is that what it is like?"

There is a universal yes from the majority of the room.

"No wonder why you are so anxious about the opening. If you have many people in here like that, I see how spirits would get irritated and lash out. Some would attach, even knowing it is temporary, to just get a break from the commotion."

A general voice of agree fills the room.

"Well, if this is, in fact real, I can only do what I can. With your permission, I will write the story. But, if this is not real, I can do nothing for you."

One of the spirits jump from his doll, he goes over to the door and looks out. Then, he looks back in the room. "How can you not see that was real?"

I shake me head. "This might be a dream where I filling in blanks. I am smart, creative, and have a great imagination. I am creative writer. I cannot dismiss the fact that I may be dreaming. My muse is Loki. I might be lying to myself to make an interesting adventure.There are many things to indicate that this is not real. Even so, it doesn't matter. In either case, this doesn't change anything."

"How is that," he demands.

"I write the story. I post the story. Some might believe and take account of it. Some will not, they will believe this is a good story. But they will still account of it. It might gain you an amount of respect needed to keep things a little calmer. I can't promise anything. I can only do what I can."

The male huffs and returns to his doll. "I don't see how it will help at all."

"I couldn't say either. But in the meantime, you have something to talk about. I hope that I have helped in the purpose area. And I do hope that you can help yourselves. I would like to come and visit someday. I will pinch myself and know it's real. Then, we can all have a laugh."

"Go to the basement. She wants to see you."

I shrug. "I will try to find my way."

I didn't make it through the maze. I never got to the basement. I wandered the rooms and the halls that didn't match up. I didn't have a guide and I saw no other spirits. Maybe the sun was coming up, maybe I brought myself back. I don't know.

The next thing I remember is opening my eyes to a new day. And after a cup of coffee, I sat in front of my computer and tried to decide how to write out the adventure I had experienced the night before. How to explain the passage of time. How to explain the worry of the spirits. The why of their concerns. The concept that these things are not good and evil. There isn't an epic battle for people's souls, going on at that location. The attachments aren't always evil or intended to cause harm, but sometime do accidentally. How do I tell people something that they do not want to hear? That sometimes, spirits are just people trying to find a purpose for their existence.

 Because, bottom line, sometimes, shit happens. Sometimes, people get trapped. Sometimes, it isn't because of worshiping Satan or summoning Cthulhu. It wasn't because they didn't go to church or pray hard enough. Sometimes, good people get trapped inside their own drama by accident. That's it. Nothing more; no trauma, no murder, no real crime. That's really scary for people.

As I tried to explain to the dolls, being mortal mean facing mortality. To do that, we need to feel comfort and safety. Death is not safe. Someone else's death, on the other hand, that is safe for the outsider. Not everybody understands that spirits inside dolls are not people, they are not demons either. They were created by people, for people. They are "outside" that whole scope. They do not apply to our funny little ideas on "good" and "evil". They are more like fairies, neutral and environmental. (That doesn't mean they can't be evil or good.) What I am saying is that they take on whatever is put inside them. That is what they were create for in the first place.

So, in the end, whether this happened or not, really makes no difference. My adventure lead me to a place with interesting characters. We had a tea party. It was fun. It made me question. That was fun too. And it turned out to be a very cool story. Didn't it?