MYTH, MAGIC, AND HOUSEKEEPING – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.

I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”

Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?

SURVIVING THE APOCALYPSE, AGAIN

The Great Mythology, by Rich Paschall

Well, we survived the Red Moon or Blood Moon or whatever you were calling it.  It was a close call as to whether we would see the end of the world due to the cloud cover here in Illinois, but the wind blew them out-of-the-way just in time.  So a few neighbors and I stood on the corner looking up into the sky waiting for a red moon and the end of the world.

For this time of year, it was a mild night here in the Midwest.  I was ready for the trip to the great beyond dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.  I really was unsure how to dress for such an auspicious occasion, but in Chicagoland, we dress for 90 degree weather starting at 60 degrees, just in case we never get that warm.  It was 70 so it was good for a September night.  I did not carry anything but binoculars as I thought I should see the moon and whatever else was coming.

One neighbor was reporting the Chicago Cubs scores as we waited for the inevitable.  We both agreed it would be a shame if the world were to end before the Cubs made it to the World Series.  After all, this is the year in the “Future” when the Cubs were supposed to win, according to that great historical film, Back to the Future.

One woman, carrying a drink in each hand, paused on the corner to see the moon.  Her husband trailed a block behind with a camera.  They were headed to the park and the wide open spaces.  They did not want any trees to block their view of the apocalypse.  It was the “tetrad” and that surely signaled the end.

“Can I borrow your binoculars a moment?” she asked as she set a drink on the side-walk.

“Of course,” I said since I already had a good look at the dark orange ball in the sky with just a bright sliver around one edge.

“Oh, wow,” she exclaimed before handing back my favorite binoculars and heading to the park.  It was almost time for the full lunar eclipse so that meant no time for her to chit-chat with neighbors.

“Can you see anything?” one man asked as he walked by.  “Yes, It’s right there,” I responded and pointed up to the southeast.  He did not look up, however.  He just kept walking.

Two small boys and a bit taller girl with a dog ran down to the corner.  The man with the baseball scores asked the kids if they had seen the moon, and then pointed toward the red ball.  The smallest one did not look up but stared at us instead.

“How old are you?” I asked the little guy.  “Six,” he replied.

“You will not get a chance to see a red moon again until you are 24 years old,” I told him.  He did not seem to care.  He was momentarily more fascinated with us staring at the sky than anything else.  Soon all the children were running off in the direction from which they came.

Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eclipse, Wikimedia Commons, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When they reach the next full lunar eclipse with a red hue of light bending around the earth, the children will be adults and hearing about a possible end of the world.  Preachers will predict the end, talk show hosts will announce doom, clever hucksters will write books and give speeches about the apocalypse and people will post nonsense on facebook or whatever is the social media engine of the day.

In ancient Greek and Roman times it was understandable how the great mythologies arose.  There was no social media.  In fact, there was no media at all.  Nothing was bringing reliable news from one location to another.

There was no science.  There was no logical explanation for what people heard in the clouds or saw in the sky.  Thunder could be an argument among the gods.  Lightning bolts could be tossed down by one god doing battle with another.  Storms at sea could be the result of Neptune being upset with sailors.  There was just no telling what could be happening up on Mount Olympus or up in the clouds.

Without any firm knowledge, one explanation could sound just as reasonable as another.  There was no way to disprove the great mythological stories.  If they included real locals or real happenings, who was to say the explanations were not real as well?  A myth was just like reality TV or the Republican debates.  If you did not know better, who’s to say it was not the truth.

In the present day, however, does it strike you strange that stories that are easily disproved find believers around every corner.  In ancient times, the appearance of a red moon no one had ever seen before might signal an ominous event to those who did not have a better explanation.  But what about today?  When we can find out how often these lunar events happen, or how many times the doomsday predictions were wrong, why do people continue to believe such nonsense?

When I looked at doomsday predictions from the middle of the last century to the present, I see I have survived quite a few.  With any luck at all, Zeus willing, I guess I will survive a few more.

When those children I saw last Sunday become adults, I wonder if they will believe in the phony predictions and fake facebook memes, or will they finally come into an educated era.

THERE LIVED A KING

Once upon a time long ago there lived a king who built an amazing castle high atop a mountain in the desert.

From his aerie, the king could see almost his entire kingdom except for his capital city, which lay far to the south. Still, from the great height of his castle’s ramparts, he could see for many miles and it was magnificent.

But there were hardly any people. Eagles flew by. Sometimes one of these great birds would stop and perch on the castle walls, but then they moved on to wherever eagles go. Sometimes a passing mountain goat, looking for greener grasses came close, then wandered off.  No one came to visit. It was too far and too hard to reach.

castle colorado

Eventually, the king felt so isolated he barely remembered what it meant to be a king or why he had moved to a place so beautiful but empty. Realizing he was lonely and would remain so if he stayed where he was — after a few more years passed because he was a stubborn ruler and the real estate market for second-hand castles on desert mountaintops was soft — the king abandoned his mountain retreat.

He left the walls and the turrets for the wind, rain and wild creatures to do with as they would.The monarch took his most treasured belongings and returned to his city to be with people, his people. And there, with life bustling around him, he was no longer alone or lonely. Sometimes he missed his castle in the desert and dreamed of it.

By the Little Colorado Arizona

Away in the desert, atop its mountain perch, the castle began to crumble in on itself, yet even to this day, if you travel through the desert, you can see it. There it is, high on its perch in the Painted Desert, overlooking a tiny, silvery river. You can visit, if you like.

URBAN MYTH?

Once upon a time, there was a company who had a great idea. Create a platform on which all kinds of people could come and do whatever they wanted. They could write, show off their photography or paintings, even show videos and play music.

75-TowerNIK_17

They created easy-to-use software and a congenial atmosphere. People flocked to them. They started sites. Talked about their lives, their memories, their hopes, dreams, art, ambitions. They connected with one another. Participated in collective events and formed friendships that circled the globe.

And everything was good.

One day, someone in a high tower in a far distant place said “We need to get with the real world.”

Many people were surprised because they thought they already were part of the real world, but he was the Big Boss, so they listened. He must be wise, because he was in power and we know that powerful people are wise, right?

tablets kindle iPad

He told his employees that small devices were the way of the future, that no one would use real computers — desktops or laptops. Indeed, several years before, many people believed — briefly — something along these lines. Everyone had long since backed off this belief — because it was obviously untrue.

Too many things — in business, art, even entertainment — needed a bigger, more powerful machine. Working people weren’t going to do spreadsheets on telephones or tablets. These things were convenient for checking email, but without room to work and a keyboard, no one was going to write their next novel on it, try to manage finances, or edit photographs.

Ghost Town by Apache Junction

But the Powers-That-Be didn’t want to hear this. They had a vision and were determined to make it true, at any cost. Moreover, they believed they had the power to force their customers march in lock step to their music. They hired a band and played marching music day and night.

Their customers blocked their ears and expressed their dismay, but the corporation couldn’t hear anyone over their own music.

Thus over a period of months and years, they changed everything. They took away the fun, the congeniality, and the software. They sucked the fun out of blogging. And then, people began to drift away.

There were some protests, some angry voices, but most people had been doing it because it was fun and it wasn’t fun any more. So they posted less. With each revision of the platform, more people gave up.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

72-Swipesy-BW-Music-032015_05

There wasn’t any other platform to take its place. There ought to have been, if this were a happier fairy tale. No alternative universe existed into which they could go, so they just quit. They found other media. Maybe not as good as the old one was, before the corporate bosses ruined everything … but it was okay. People got used to it. At least no one was trying to make them do stuff they didn’t want to do.

empty chairs

Over a period of time, the big corporation noticed they didn’t have so many people using their platform. “No problem,” declared the Big Boss. “We’ll get businesses to take their place. They will pay us for our services.”

Businesses had their own IT departments and servers. They saw no reason to depend on someone else when they had their own resources. And the platform’s reputation for poor customer service while creating a user-hostile environment was all over the Internet. Everyone knew someone who’d been betrayed. No one wanted to risk their business. What if they were next on the corporate hit list?

“No thanks,” they said and moved elsewhere.

sad momProfits fell. First a trickle, and then a mighty waterfall. Customers abandoned the ship. Eventually, the corporation realized it was out of business. Like Wang. DEC. Grumman. IBM. GTE. They thought they were so big and so powerful, they could do whatever they wanted however they wanted.

They were wrong.


The End.


What a Twist! — Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.

MYTH AND MAGIC

Last night, I explained to Garry about house elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.

I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real, anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”

Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?


Daily Prompt: Think Global, Act Local – “Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one. Because magic is definitely global.