Thursday, August 14, 2008

How the camel found the way.

Camel was a sensitive if a little moody by nature. His temperament was so predictably unpredictable as to cause his friends and loved ones to merely roll their eyes when he went "off" on one of his usual tirades over something very small or stood there, all steel and ice cold "Told you so!", when something big happened in the world.

Camel was smart in most things, there was no doubt about that. There was one thing though, at which Camel was decidedly stupid and that was in the area of understanding his true motives about things. In this field of endeavour he was decidedly dumb as the hump on his back! He could never really tell WHY he chose to go in this direction or that he just went there.

Luckily for Camel, he seemed to kind of strike oasis gold on most occasions but for the most part, it was pure luck rather than any determination on his part to get there. He just strode out into the desert, mumbling about his lot in life and when his friends asked him if he'd brought the Map, he'd go "What map? Where is this map? What do I need a map for?" in dumbfounded and blinking hysteria.

Camel made lots and lots of promises to himself that he would get a map and choose his next journey with great deliberation and careful planning and make sure he covered every detail and angle. He rarely kept those promises to himself. Instead, after a tiff with a friend, or a tangle with an oasis vine leaf, he'd stride off in a great humpfy mood into the hot, scorching desert and thus find himself a little lost a few days later and rather confused as to how he got there!

His friends decided after one such long desert spell that Camel best learn how to get organised and calm down and match his grand promises for once. So, instead of going out to reassure poor, lost and confused Camel each time he'd strode out into the desert too far, they left him alone a little bit longer each time he did this bad habit. No rescuing, no reassurance and no directions were to be given. He had to learn the hard way for once how much of a burden he was being to everyone else with his crazy impetuous and self-centred practise of just diving into the desert without a map after some emotional upset over nothing much!

Camel was all hot and bothered one day over some minor misdeed of one of his closest companions. He felt all bereft and abandoned and isolated and in a real downer of a dump, he departed into the hot blazing sands to get away "for a bit".

"Where are you going?" said his friend who neither understood or fathomed what on earth she'd done to make Camel so flustered and emotionally distraught.

"Somewhere where there's someone nice to me!" said Camel moodily and then humpfed off without any sense of which direction he was supposed to take. His friend shrugged and went off to do her own thing, thinking softly in her mind that she cared a great deal for Camel and it would be kind of hard letting him wallow in the desert by himself for a few days without water, food, emotional support and a nice palm tree to sit down under during the unfathomable heat of the afternoon. Still, he was being an Idiot really, so it was important he got around to learning this lesson in taking responsibility for his actions for once!

Camel walked and walked, sobbing and moaning and expecting his friends to come get him at any minute and tell him it was all a big misunderstanding and could he turn around and come home now as they really did love him and want him around!

No one came!

Camel got more and more desperate as time went on and the sand hills got larger and more dry and the wind was stronger and more insistent on pitting his eyelashes with stinging tiny stones of silicone quartz. Camel felt worried. None of his friends had come to get him and he was lost!

The wind picked up and soon became one of those frightening storms, hot - stupidly hot - and fierce with flying sand that whipped against the body like the lashing of a thousand cat-o-nines, each tipped with a poisoned spur! Oh, how that storm hurt Camel! He knelt with his back against the force of it and buried his nose under his front legs to protect its sensitive tip from the scathing sand blast. He would have cried but for the fact he had his eyes shut so tight, there was no space for the tears to escape.

Camel drifted into a kind of meditative state of altered reality in the middle of that storm. He thought back over his long past and noticed the Mostly, he learned that much of his moodiness and silly emotional clunkiness was more due to the fact that he was basically very selfish and just wanted to be the centre of attention most of the time! He didn't really care too much about other people so long as he himself was cared about! It was a shocking thought and very humiliating.

The sound of the stinging wind became a muted backdrop of sound as he saw himself in his minds eye, huffing and puffing over some triviality which he had blown out of proportion to all else and realised how selfish and egocentric he'd been towards his nearest and dearest.

Camel drifted into sleep as a deep grief enclosed his soul - just as the sand eddied around him like a kind of dry sea with waves of gritty, insistent unfathomable emptiness stretching out from every side of him.

Many hours later he snorted awake suddenly, blowing puffs of now still and very fine sand from his nostrils. Carefully, he fluttered his long luxuriant eyelashes to peer from his sandy cave that had built up around him during the storm. With a great deal of effort, heavy as he was with grief and lonliness, he heaved upwards, shifting vast quantities of sand from his hump, and neck. It slid off him like as if it was water.

He felt a little lighter but only a little. Sighing deeply, he looked around. Nothing! Only blazing sun and sand for miles. No signs of life. No signals from friends to guide him home. Not even a mirage to soften the harsh line of the horizon.

Camel burst into great wracking sobs that shuddered his whole body. Now his tears could flow and flow they did. He knelt there in the sand and his tears made little wet puddles beside them. Being the pragmatic soul at heart, he noted that his own tears were probably the last fluid he'd see for some time, so he scooped each tear drop that fell up with his tongue. Crying and lapping his own tears until he had no more to shed, Camel felt completely and utterly abandoned and with a rueful last sigh of grief he shuddered himself upright again and prepared to wander aimlessly towards the horizon to whatever fate lay ahead.

He was about to step forth, when it struck him, he was just repeating an ancient pattern of his! He'd seen himself do this very thing in his meditations during the storm. How silly of him! He stopped. He breathed. He waited.

This was a first for Camel. He'd never tried this tactic before. Just stopping, and breathing, and waiting. It was a new idea and one that seemed perfectly right for the current situation.

No thinking, just waiting. Camel had a very busy brain, so this bit was truly illuminating. He kept the thinking at bay even though it was very hard and allowed himself to just wait...softly...without any expectations for outcomes or ideas... just pure essence of Moment.

A "thing" crept under his skin not long after while he waited. It was hard to identify but it was a "Thing". It was neither a thought or a feeling as such but a sort of well... a Knowing if you will. Camel resisted the temptation to stop and think about it, and if his friends could have seen him then, they'd have laughed at the comical expression on his face, with his lovely big eyes all screwed up and his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth in total concentration on the act of NOT thinking about thinking about the Thing inside of him.

The Knowing Thing shyly grew in confidence and it seemed to be pointing to something strangely practical and obvious, the sun.

Camel felt as if The Knowing Thing was like a separate entity now, a sort of other part of him that was in him but not really actually him as such but still familiar somehow. Very tentatively, Camel asked The Knowing Thing a question, which felt embarrassingly mad of course as it would likely appear he was talking to himself under a scorching desert sun and thereby most passers by - if there had been any - would have concluded that this particular Camel had gone without water for just a wee bit long really.

"Can you help me?" asked Camel very shyly "Please?" he asked again, remembering his manners.

The Knowing Thing didn't really answer in words as such, it just somehow relayed another sort of Knowing to Camel which he knew without knowing why he knew or where that knowing had come from. He just knew that "Yes!" the Knowing Thing could indeed help and was wanting to do so very much.

"Which way is home?" asked Camel again with a little bit more confidence in his strange new friend within.

"Follow your heart" said the Knowing inside him. This of course confused Camel. He spent a bit of time switching straight back into his old habits of trying to over-think the concept and his feelings about it which of course, confused him even more than more.

The Knowing Thing had steadily grew in presence and well... loudness ...for want of a better word, for it didn't really say anything actually aloud as such.

"Shhhh! Still!" said The Knowing Thing, and Camel obeyed instantly somehow understanding that he needed to Shhh that very moment and be very still too.

"Following your heart is not about maps or directions or going off without thought dear Camel. Following your heart is going where you know its right to go but you have to stop and listen and hear which way is right to go. Sometimes others will tell you which way is right to go and you need to listen carefully to their wisdom. Sometimes, you know which way is right to go but you also need to listen carefully to your inner wisdom and believe it too. So now dear Camel, look at the shadow of the sun and tell me what you sense about it."

Camel turned and looked at the shadow of himself cast in the sand against the powerful sun overhead. His shadow was very short, almost underneath him which meant that the Sun must be somewhere around its zenith of the day, noon or thereabouts.

"About noon I suppose" said Camel carefully.

"Good" said The Knowing Thing inside. "Now Camel. What would a sensible animal do in the noon day sun when they are lost in a desert of sand?"

Camel gave himself actual permission to think about this one carefully. His analytical mind served him well on puzzles like this one. "They'd stop for a bit to see which direction the Sun travelled?" he asked with an almost immediate sense of being right about his question. So he sat down on the spot without turning or doing anymore walking and waited a bit until the sun shifted the shadow under him and it began to lengthen. He noted the direction of the sun as it set behind him. That was must be close to West he thought to himself and immediately felt a resounding "Yes!" within some place that wasn't brain or heart or soul or anywhere but inside nonetheless.

He waited a little more.

The sun sank lower into the western sky. Camel did some calculating. He wasn't sure exactly which way he'd come but he was reasonably sure his home was north of somewhere so he decided to maybe go North. He asked The Knowing Thing and it didn't say anything really, just "As you so choose" but with a quiet sort of confidence behind it so Camel rose and faced what he had ascertained was North and began to walk.

The Knowing Thing kept him company on his walk. It gave him confidence that everything was going to work out fine and it gave him a good deal of hope too, that he could solve some of his terrible weaknesses of character when he got back amongst his friends. Camel really didn't want to lose his friends and he vowed he'd be a better manager of his own emotions in the future. The Knowing Thing just smiled at him with a kind of loving knowingness that Camel couldn't really understand but which felt good anyway.

It was almost dark and the stars were lighting up the sky when Camel came upon his home Oasis. His friends were there in the middle around the waterhole all discussing whether they should abandon their Abandon Camel Campaign and send out a search party for him but given the recent sand storm, they'd been very dubious of ever seeing him again. When he turned up in the middle of their circle out of the dark, some of his friends shrieked with fright as if they'd seen a ghost. But soon everyone was laughing and crying and hugging Camel and declaring they'd NEVER let him out of their sight again because they really did love him despite his humpfy ways and his hopeless emotional outbursts over nothing much.

Camel smiled at everyone and a deep love welled up in his old heart for every one of his dear friends whom he'd so abused and mistreated with his silly habits over the years. He sighed deeply and without saying a word, he told The Knowing Thing a sincere and heart-felt "Thankyou" for showing him the way Home.

The Knowing Thing stayed with Camel for the rest of his life. Camel became known as someone very wise, very slow to anger, very deliberate and careful in the plans he made and the directions he took. He didn't always think, he sometimes just stopped, breathed and waited and that was often enough to find the answers to most things in life.

And everyone who met him, loved him even when he got a little bit humpfy.

The End.

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