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.