Once upon a time…
“Are you kidding me, Tom!?” Ava whispered angrily – her glare so hot it could start a fire.
Tom shifted uncomfortably, sticks and leaf litter digging into his hands and knees. His arms were starting to ache from crouching in that painful position. The air was growing cooler as the light of day began to disappear, but Tom was so wired, beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. He glanced over at Dan, a smirk forming on his face, and nodded, “Challenge accepted.”
Dan chuckled, shaking off the leaves as he reached out his hand. The boys shook in agreement. “Five seconds.” Dan winked. Ava shook her head angrily.
The three sat under a bush in the middle of the forest. It had taken a lot of coaxing to get Ava to stay out this late, but the boys had been so convincing in their description of the majestic white stag. One glimpse bestowed the observer several years of incredible blessings, or so said the legend. Unfortunately, this was not the white stag; this was something much worse.
Its eyes were bloodshot red. Oily substances oozed out of its large pores. Moss covered nearly all of its rock-like body, and long-hanging arms ended in massive claws. The green-skinned giant seemed to be as big as an elephant, though Tom’s fear of the beast may have caused it to seem much larger. He gulped, realising the magnitude of what he just agreed to. Tom looked over at Ava, her glare boring a hole into his soul. Tom shrugged nervously, looking back over at Dan, whose attention was fixed on the beast.
It hadn’t sensed them yet, happily munching on some mushrooms… or maybe it was a dead carcass. It was hard to tell from their vantage point.
“It’s hunch means it can’t stand up straight, so it won’t be able to grab you.” Dan states, calculating Tom’s chance of survival.
“You are really going to do this?” Ava growls, “You are going to jump on that thing’s back.”
Tom grimaced, “He dared me to! Besides, it’s only for five seconds.”
Her hands clenched and she bit her lip. Tom could swear he saw steam coming out of her ears.
Dan ignored Ava, grabbing Tom’s shoulder. “Alright my man! You have to be fast, because once he smells you, he will try to eat you.”
“Right” Tom nodded in agreement, his heart beginning to race. This might be stupid.
“Getting on its back will be the easy part. Getting off, well, not so much.” Dan continued. “I think your best course of action will be to distract it somehow. Maybe kick off your shoe.”
“His shoe.” Ava interrupted.
“Yes.” He said dryly. “The horrible stench from Tom’s feet would distract any creature, especially a troll.”
Tom shoved him. Dan chuckled quietly, “Okay, okay. But I might be onto something.”
“Thanks,” Tom said. “But I think I have an idea of what I’m going to do.” He pushed himself up from the ground slowly, careful not to rustle any leaves.
“Tom!” Ava cried softly, her eyes begging him to come back. Grinning, he gave her a thumbs up. Dan’s smile broadened, returning Tom’s thumbs up.
“Sorry Ava, I have to see if I can do it”, Tom took a deep breath, laser-focused on the large beast still preoccupied with the strange snack that he couldn’t see.
“Here goes!” thought Tom. His legs took off, each foot slapping the ground so hard he felt as though it was shaking the entire earth. With each step, the troll grew closer, and with each step, Tom realised how large his stupidity was. But he couldn’t stop, not when the creature was starting to turn towards him – it heard him!
Tom leaped and lunged onto its back. Greasy hair slapped him in the face, the sour smell causing his eyes to water. He clung on tight, waiting for the ride of a lifetime but it didn’t come. The beast was completely still. “Maybe shocked by my bravery,” conceited Tom. Holding his breath so the stench wouldn’t get into his mouth, Tom waited. Still nothing.
Suddenly a low rumble could be heard. What sounded like thunder slowly turned into a quaking roar. “Are you ill, child?” the deep voice resounded. “Get into the mushrooms perhaps?”
“I did not!” protested Tom. The thunder started again, and then he realised it was laughter.
Slowly Tom released his grip on its dank fur and slid off the troll’s back. Loud rustling was heard behind him and he glanced back to see Dan and Ava standing, staring in horror. “What are you doing!?” mouthed Dan, clearly alarmed.
Tom turned back to the troll, taking a step around to face it. The scene before him was like nothing he could have imagined. The beast wasn’t eating a dead carcass. In fact, it wasn’t even eating at all. What lay before it was a tiny pile of rocks. The pile was neatly organised, with the larger stones at the bottom and the smaller stones carefully balanced at the top. Tom looked up at the troll. Its eyes weren’t as red as he thought they were.
“Are you building a house?” he asked.
The laughter returned. “No.” It said, with a smile more bouldery than sharp.
Tom looked back at the pile. “Are you trying to see how tall you can make them?”
The troll shook its head. “Wrong again, tiny human child.”
Tom shrugged, “A little mountain then?”
The troll’s smile grew. “Yes, a little mountain. It will grow tall like me one day and watch the forest as I have done.”
Tom’s eyes widened, “It’s your child?”
“I suppose that’s what you humans would call it.” The troll nodded.
Dan and Ava were edging closer. The troll reached down to place another stone. “You children had best leave now. Your guardians will be worried.”
Ava grabbed Tom’s hand, pulling him back. Dan led the way, glancing back over his shoulder every once and a while. Not Tom though. His eyes couldn’t leave the beast that moulded its own family.
“The question is really a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That’s what segregation means. You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall, because you don’t want to know.”
― James Baldwin
Moral of the Story:
The highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and many are too lazy or ignorant to find out more. Curiosity takes ignorance seriously. It is confident enough to admit when it does not know. It is aware of not knowing, and it sets out to do something about it. Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition. Often, the greater our ignorance about something, the greater our resistance to change. People reject what they do not understand because it makes them feel small. They would rather believe in some other reality, even if it is only an illusion, as long as it makes them feel bigger.
There are all kinds of ignorance in the world. Education, learning to read and write, doesn’t necessarily give us knowledge. We have to learn to use our minds to see what is really happening. Ignorance doesn’t make a person stupid, aversion to learning and rampant self-absorption do. To seek truth requires we ask the right questions. Those who are void of truth, do not ask about anything because their ego and arrogance prevent them from doing so. In this way, they remain ignorant. Truth seekers are heart-driven and childlike in their quest, always asking questions. They are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something. Every truth-seeker must first breakdown their ego in order to see the Truth. If the mind is in the way, the heart will not see anything.
“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.”
― Alice Walker
Affirmation: I am willing to change.
Curiosity fills my life with adventure; it motivates me to explore greater heights and find new solutions. I investigate and observe society and the world around me so I can create more value. Curiosity sparks my interest to explore the world at large. I nurture my curious mind by asking questions and exploring the unfamiliar. I strengthen my resolve to be the best version of me that I can be with abundant curiosity. I am receptive to new ideas and strategies. Curiosity fuels my desire to learn, unlearn and relearn. I am curiosity personified. The process of nurturing and developing my curiosity keeps me happy. I enjoy the learning process. My curiosity ignites my creativity, builds my self-confidence, and inspires me to be courageous. I leave my bubble to explore new frontiers. I have an insatiable hunger for knowledge, answers, and solutions. I accept that I always have more to learn. I explore mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”