It all began at the Well
Monday 14 May 2012
I have always been passionate about the need to develop imagination in young children. Even as a child myself I could not believe that people could go through their early years without understanding that milk jugs could dance and yet hope to plan a city that truly inspired or become men and women of vision.
It was therefore with great delight many years ago that I came upon this quote from Dr Peter Ellyard, Former Director of the Commission of the Future:
“We cannot work to create a future which we cannot first imagine.
The future is not some place we are going to, but a place we are creating.”
I found the quote again recently and sat down and wrote this little tale - It all began at the Well - because of it and a few other things on my mind.
Once Upon a Time…there were Two Tribes.
Vastly different, they both lived in the Middle of Nowhere…because that is where they began.
When the news broke it was Tribe Tenebrisi that heard it first; creeping and slithering through the cracks as only rumour can…it caused such excitement within the upper ranks that much scrambling went on to keep it secret from the underlings: hands went over mouths, gatherings broke up never to re-group and all those - seen to be gossiping idly on the path…merely vanished.
On the other hand, Tribe Luminosi based on the Far Side of the Middle of Nowhere, met the news with collective celebration, quickly gathering to spread the word amongst the weakest and the smallest of them all.
And thus it was that two Tribal Expeditions made their way that night to the Starting Line: for indeed the news could not be ignored. Treasure had been found in the midst of Desert Somewhere and it was imperative that each should find it first.
The Tenebrisi were not pleased at all when the shapes of the Luminosi appeared on the Horizon as they gathered at the Starting Line.
‘They’ve heard the news…we must leave now’ said the Tribal Elders of Tenebrisi. And as ill-prepared as were their people, they took off into Desert Somewhere with little thought for those they’d left behind.
It was a young man of the Luminosi Tribe who asked the question many had feared to ask as they set out for the Starting Line.
‘Please…what is this treasure of which you speak…what does it look like? And what happens if we do not find it?
But no one could answer.
‘We will know it when we find it…and find it we will’ said the Keeper of the Peace. ‘Are you all ready? We must away before the start of the Tenebrisi Tribe becomes too great.’
‘But’ said the young man. ‘How can we know what we cannot see?’
And they all looked at each other…for they too wanted to understand.
‘I think I know’ said a child ‘and if I’m right…there is no need to rush. ‘We cannot see a heartbeat and yet we know it’s there. Our Keeper is right…we will know it when we find it but the Tenebrisi will see only what they expect to find.’
And with that, the Luminosi Tribe took all the time they needed and prepared so that all should be in order for the journey ahead.
By then the Tenebrisi Tribe or as much of them as could keep up with the race, were deep into Desert Somewhere and very weary for they had tracked from side to side searching for Treasure signs impossible to see in the light of night.
‘We need food and our children are too tired to carry on,’ said one.
‘What? Let the others find the Treasure?’ answered another. ‘Let us push on into the Darkness. We can always come back for the others.’
So that is what they did.
‘Is this the Treasure?’ called out one in the gloom, coming to a spot that felt damp and cool. ‘No’ was the reply. ‘That’s just surface dew. Illusion. Magic. Treasure is of solid make - will stub your foot - feel strong and lie within a great Oasis bed. Shiny it is and mirrors much of night. Imagination cannot bring the wealth that will be ours when no more shall we work. Our bidding will be done and we shall have to care no more. Do you believe that surface dew can do all that?’ Why just as well believe a tree stands there and underneath its roots a treasure box is hid.'
And on they pushed and on and on.
Now the Luminosi Tribe was not far from the Starting Line by the time the Sun had interrupted the night with her broad grin. And the deeper into Desert Somewhere they went the more brightly she burned down on them.
Onwards they trudged…the strong shouldering the weak. They could see the tracks of the Tenebrisi Tribe criss-crossing like ants in the rain and elected to steer a more direct path.
‘We need to stop and let our people rest’ the Elders whispered, rather fearing they’d taken too much upon themselves. ‘The Sun will show no mercy and our water supplies are low.’
‘Look…is that a tree?’ cried one of their number pointing an elderly hand. ‘Over there…in the distance. It seems almost too far away but it may give us shade.’
‘Why yes’ said a woman. 'It IS a tree. If we carry those who can no longer bear their burden we could be there by nightfall’
And that is what they did.
Thus it was the Luminosi people came upon that tree - the Soak beneath…the very same discarded by the Tenebrisi Tribe that merely saw its surface dew…a humble Soak that in the Darkness gave no hint at all. The tree was large and spread her cooling branches very wide. And all around the Soak was green…flowers of every hue danced to subtle music tones of Pan and tiny creatures splashed and played - rainbows reflecting in every drop upon each leaf.
And all together knew what they had found.
‘It is the Treasure, isn’t it,’ whispered the child and they laughed and knelt and drank that surface dew and gave their thanks and made their plans.
The child stood up, began to clap and shout and weave around the Soak…and soon to follow - all including old and frail were caught up dancing, madly prancing in the spirit of rejoicing tears.
They built a Well and around its wall they sat at night and taught the young; told stories of the years long gone and of their customs and their tongue; they shared their skills and toiled by day; healing the sick and hailing life to come; they planted crops while cattle roamed; invented dances, games and songs - to entertain when work was done.
They cared for those who needed care and taught the children to respect; exchanged their goods and shared their wealth and no one sought to have excess.
They took in Tenebrisi from afar and asked no questions of their birth; for they could see what time had done to those pursuing empty gain.
Strangers came from far and wide - taken in and prospered all.
The young child grew and made his plans…imagination fired by years of hearing stories at the Well.
He built a town for all to share its burdens and delights.
He called it…