The story seems endless. In that way maybe the plotline replicates life. We keep thinking we’ve solved a problem, reached a conclusion, turned a corner only for another something to show up. The story is so long that it helps me imagine my ancestors sitting around a fire for days listening to a zigzagging ramble of a tale. What really impresses me, though, is the storyteller’s ability to remember. His drumming hands don’t miss a beat and his narrative never falters, even when he interrupts himself to make an observation, “ Sonia, a spark just landed on your drum.” He models skill, polish and embodied intelligence. His name is Danny Deardorff.
The story, like life, reveals over and over that nothing is as it seems at first glance. I would think the characters had learned a lesson, that transformation and redemption were close at hand, and then, smack, the men charge off after the same old hag who was up to the same old devious, nasty tricks.
Mice on the wheel.
The story troubles me – a litany of horrors, women treating men badly, men treating women badly, deceit, burdens, outrageous yucky tasks and overall mayhem. And image of all images, a white deerskin cloak covered in eyeballs.
A lad spends seven years sacrificing much to become a deep listener. His senses are honed by his years of sitting under a tree to absorb all the sounds around him. Maturing, he overcomes all kinds of obstacles, shows kindness and wisdom and STILL loses his eyeballs and works as a scarecrow. His senses are so keen that even blind he can hunt but he’s given only a smokey bow ( who knows what that is???) and a crooked arrow. These two items are no pot of gold but occasionally he snags meat.
Toward the end, he gets to wear the eyes of a variety of animals, but each pair eventually grows dim. I love the portraits this conjures in me of a man with doe eyes, alligator eyes, dragonfly eyes, dolphin eyes. . . Easy for me to imagine how much I’d learn if I could look at the world through others’ eyes like that. Near the very end, our hero, The Listener, finally gets his own eyes back and finds a wife, who seems like a good woman. AND yet, they birth twin sons who are strangely beyond normal. They grow up within days to become men who leave home to vanquish everything and anything that could harm humans, vowing not to return until they accomplish the task.
Now I ask you, isn’t that what the axis of evil is all about in our day and time? Who and what would keep us company on this tiny planet if all sources of potential harm were obliterated? What a sorry tale this long, long story is. Aren’t two-leggeds, and I don’t mean birds, susceptible to the same catastrophes as everything else? How can we be immune to harm if we want to participate in the web of life?
I’d like to see us turn away from that cliff edge of hubris and illusion of safety and walk toward the ebbs and flows of being engaged with risky living.
What a wonder to recognize how much this distasteful story inspired me!
What does this post trigger for you? AND do any of you know old, old folktales or myths which reveal more of the solar/lunar balance, yin/yang dance, intertwined male and female energies? I would appreciate references.
And I haven’t forgotten the OTHER story waiting to be told. Maybe tomorrow.
And apologies for misinterpreting, re-interpreting, mis-remembering, inaccurate hearing, da duh da duh da duh, all in service of making the point that every good story stirs up the listener. Hurray for stories and thank you Danny. I’m glad to have been present for this one.
It was indeed a powerful story. Thanks for “feeding” it even further!
Thanks, Connie. I liked what tumbled out but am a little hesitant to post on mythsingers. What think you about that? Glad to be traveling through with you.
I definitely think you should post your beautiful synopsis of the story on Mythsingers (besides, Danny will moderate the comment and not post it unless he approves). I think you put it perfectly, and at least I took away the exact same message.
I found myself feeling very anxious during the story, very frustrated, and relating to The Listener, having been through my own series of “longhouses”, and like The Listener, with each new opportunity, came the chance to pursue or reject it…just because we hear something, doesn’t mean we have to listen – like the sound of the false wife’s voice seducing him from the distance, only to run away, haze him, then try to destroy him in the end.
I did love the near-end of the story, when, as a broken and blind man, he basically sat in a corn field and waited for love to find him (rather than chasing another elusive beauty). I could relate to that piece of the story, having left an 8 year relationship that I initially pursued for nearly 4 years, only to have it be spirit-crushing in the end. Then one day I’m swimming in Lake Washington with friends, a “broken” woman, when a very gentle love finds me, enters my life, and cares for spirit in a way that was very rehabilitating.
Now, just when I think life is settled, along comes an offer of a highly lucrative dream job in the SF Bay Area….DOH! Another twist, another turn, another opportunity to listen or not to listen, to what I’m hearing (and feeling very flattered by the offer, thank you very much)….Which begs the question, could “listening” lead to my ending up on the top of a heap of bones? Or is that just part of the adventure?
Ah, sweet life.
The journey of life – ahhhhhh wow – commitment to simplicity? ahhhhhh wow – the lure of gold – what is the gold, really…ahhhh wow. Listening to WHAT is the real question. Who/what is the call? How deep the authenticity of the sender?
Listening is one thing but discriminating what one hears may be the more important.
AND at the same time, hearty congratulations for being acknowledged!
Love this blogging!!!
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And the beat goes on…
I liked the twists and turns of that one. Like a river.
Western stories are so focused on resolution! We want our payoffs.
Are you going tomorrow night?
Excellent observation, Connie. Resolution..we want our payoffs. Thanks for pointing that out.
and no I can’t go tomorrow night – too much on my plate getting ready for the weekend – the course Living Myth Living World.
Can hardly wait to see that cloak of eyes. WOW.