I wanted to understand but maybe I never would. You didn’t get to close your door. It was left open and you were pulled away. It’s silent. It’s cold. Where did that long life go? Let me back into the dream. I want to venture into a far off destiny but only if it’s with you.
licking the honey, May 2015
Tolstoy had A Confession including a Traveler which drew me into his thoughts of life and death many years ago when my life was young, irresponsible and selfish. When I didn’t have to think about finality and pain. This ancient Eastern parable stayed with me more than much of what I studied while at University in St Paul. It was often discussed around Uncle Bob’s studious dining table for he is the educator on Death and Dying. He lectured and taught the first North American course on the subject in the 60s. And now here I am still learning, still thoughtful of Russian philosophy.
The Traveler “There is an old Eastern fable about a traveler who is taken unawares on the steppes by a ferocious wild animal. In order to escape the beast the traveler hides in an empty well, but at the bottom of the well he sees a dragon with its jaws open, ready to devour him. The poor fellow does not dare to climb out because he is afraid of being eaten by the rapacious beast, neither does he dare drop to the bottom of the well for fear of being eaten by the dragon. So he seizes hold of a branch of a bush that is growing in the crevices of the well and clings on to it. His arms grow weak and he knows that he will soon have to resign himself to the death that awaits him on either side. Yet he still clings on, and while he is holding on to the branch he looks around and sees that two mice, one black and one white, are steadily working their way round the bush he is hanging from, gnawing away at it. Sooner or later they will eat through it and the branch will snap, and he will fall into the jaws of the dragon. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish. But while he is still hanging there he sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the bush, stretches out his tongue and licks them.”