The wisdom of others.
“People, people, people. What a suspicious lot you are. You think me here to fleece you, or to pursue your wives. Nothing is further from my mind. Of course, you think, I would say that, and I do. I don’t say put your trust in me, but neither do I say the reverse. I’m not here to sell you anything but to give you the good word.” He laughed as he said this and then resumed. “I’m just kidding. I’m not here to divest you of the chains that you forged and wear, they are your burden, to be shed or retained as you wish. Those of you who are bowed down with grief it is not from weakness, but it is the price of love. Also, I’m not here as a politician to beseech you to vote whether I stay or not. It is true that politicians are like diapers, they must be changed often, for the same reason. So don’t worry, for worrying is like a debt you don’t have. So, why am I here at all? Well, you are on my way to wherever I am going, and of that, I’m not sure yet. But I’m a stranger in your midst. A stranger who is strange as I think I am the first that has managed to cross your boundaries for many a year, so hidden are you.
“Whether willingly, or because of ennui, you have become remote and haven’t taken down the barriers to other people entering here, and of course, it is natural to be suspicious of intruders. Am I just the first of the advanced guard that will run over your little town and subject it to all manner of indignities? Be not afeared, I am but a solitary soul that has almost inadvertently stumbled upon your hiding place. Soon I will depart, but first, I hope a chance to partake of your no doubt fine cuisine and a place to rest my head. I have a few shekels about me, so I do not come as a pauper, but giving some sort of recompense to you all for granting me the favour of allowing me to linger, I’ll tell you of some of the wisdom that has come my way from many and different sources.” With that and a flourish, he brought forth a goatskin flask and poured water as a stream into his mouth.
“I am called Trumble. For the life of me, I cannot reason it why, and as my parents left me at the door of a monastery, it was not within the kind monk’s understanding either. So, I was Trumble, and am still Trumble. It is neither good nor bad, it just is, and it is one of the first lessons that I absorbed; ‘Do not resist.’ Oh, I didn’t grasp it straight away but it became real to me one day when I was walking a gravelly road and resisting the little pieces of crushed rock from jumping into my shoe. Such a simple lesson. The resistance to that tiny mite occupied most of my attention with what might be. That it did jump in, was beside the point. Handling something as it occurs frees one’s attention.
“It is said that poets utter great and wise things that they themselves do not understand, and so it is with those that seek to bring you wisdom. Inspect what is said, but weigh the consequences of putting that wisdom in your lives; but also, by not. However, I have found a poem that has guided me throughout my life and I offer it to you to embrace or dismiss.”
Spirit is the Master Power it moulds and it makes
And Man is Spirit and evermore he takes
The tools of thought and shaping as he wills
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills
He thinks in secret and it comes to pass
Environment is but his looking glass.”
Stepping down from the plinth he had been standing on he asked if someone could take him to an eatery and a bed for the night.
A rather tubby man stepped forward and introduced himself as the Burgomaster of the small town which was named, Piethoorn, a town of fewer than one thousand souls.
“As you have gathered,” he said, “We have very few visitors. In fact, you are the first in almost seven years to have found his way here. However, although we prefer our isolation, I bid you welcome, although you think it is your intention to make your visit very short.”
Trumble laughed at this and the curious people listening laughed with him.
“Be assured good people, I will be gone before most of you are out of your beds by the morrow. It is purely by chance that I am here at all. I was resting when I saw a young deer ambling through your forest and I followed it to your little haven. It must have been someone’s pet as it did not fear me following it.”
“Hah,” said a man who turned out to be the Burgomaster, “That is Bombi, everyone’s pet. It roams freely and doesn’t fear the cauldron. My name is Helmitt, and I am only the Burgomaster because nobody else wants the job.” This brought further laughter from Trumble and he commented that it truly is a strange town without someone wanting to push their way to a position of being able to order people about.
“Perhaps you have all the wisdom that is required here to lead a good and fulfilling life. Tell me Helmitt, do you have a police force?” Helmitt assured him that they didn’t. He related that many years ago a young man did, we think, accidentally, burn down someone’s house and he tried to get himself locked up, but nobody would give him the key to lock the door. His self-imposed penance was to live on bread and water for two months. He would work from dawn to dusk every day with the other people in rebuilding the house and return to a hard bed at night.”
Trumble was told that by agreement the repopulation of the town was kept very low and to date, there was no indication that any inbreeding would occur. If it was likely in the future, then excursions would be taken outside of their walls to replenish their stock.
“We may be insular, but we are not narrow-minded. I think I can speak for my friends here that your remarks to us would not necessarily fall on unfallowed land, if the words have merit, they will be noted. We have chosen to be remote, and indeed take practical wisdom to heart. Most communities such as ours fall prey to dissension from within; we seek to guard against this by open communication. Our original leader said sin, deliberate or inadvertent, was one of the biggest reasons relationships fall apart. Letting the sin be aired privately and at times, publicly, cleans the slate of transgressions and makes for a happy life. There are some of us that have gone out in the modern world and trained in being able to perform those tasks as needed, but mainly we take care of our health by natural means and such industry as there is, by as natural means as possible.”
“But aren’t you afraid that anyone visiting here will divulge this location and tourists will start to visit your beautiful little town?”
“Not really, who will tell them if nobody leaves here to tell them? Ah, Trumble, you followed the wrong kind of deer. You will have plenty of time to tell us the wisdom that has made a difference to your life. You will have many willing ears in the market-place and the inns. We have a charming little saying ourselves. ‘What we achieve inwardly, will change outer reality.’ This may be an exercise that will occupy you for a little while. However, we are absolute masters on the subject of escapology. I have a charming wife in mind for you if you are so inclined, assuming, of course, you swing that way.”