Part 5: The Beginning

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That’s my story.

Well, Act One, anyways.

Or maybe it’s Act One and Act Two.  It sorta depends on how you look at it.

But I digress…

So do you think I’m mad?

Because I’ll be honest.  I call myself the Mad Griot, but I don’t think I’m really all that mad.  At least, I don’t think I’m anymore mad than the rest of the world is.

We’re at the brink of global catastrophe, and most of us are more concerned about our favourite character getting killed off of whatever TV show we happen to be in to.

We’re entrenched in an economic system based on unlimited growth while living on a planet with finite resources.

We value money, power, and privilege over clean air, healthy food, and drinkable water.

We throw away unsold food while the world starves.  We keep millions of homes empty while millions of us freeze in the streets.  Our justice system shows leniency towards the rich while targeting and throwing the full weight of the law at the poor.

If that’s not madness, I don’t know what is.

If our ancestors could travel through time and bear witness to what has become of our world, they’d react the same way we do now when we read stories like Brave New World or The Hunger Games.

It’s funny how we always want the heroes in our dystopian and sci-fi / fantasy stories to rise up against the evil that threatens the world.  We always want them to fight back. Go on the quest. Make a difference. No matter the cost.

“Go, go, go!” we shout at the hero and heroine.  Meanwhile, the actual nightmare rages on outside.

These stories are about us.  They represent everything we secretly believe is true about ourselves and our potential.

Look…I know I’m not perfect.  I got achy balls.  I have an unnatural fear of getting punched in the face while I’m wearing glasses.  It took me months just to figure out how to get this kind of can opener to work:

It's harder than it looks. Trust me.

I finally had to look it up on the Internet. I’m not proud of it.

But I know this: there is magic in the world.

I know that gods, spirits, and demons are all real.

I know that this is Middle-Earth – we’ve just forgotten it.

When I’m “Daryl Watson”, I can’t handle any of this.  I just gotta do what I gotta do to survive and be happy.  Yeah, I’ll recycle and try to buy organic if I can afford to and every now and then I’ll say a prayer to God on behalf of the weak and the suffering, but that’s all I can do. Because even if I could accept that the idea that there are deceased souls trapped here on Earth, that doesn’t mean that I should let a bunch of invisible beings lead me on a fucking quest for a giant tree that takes you to another dimension.

‘Cause that’s crazy.

But when I put on the mask, when I embrace my “madness”, when I become the Mad Griot, some ancient part of me awakens and remembers.  It says to me, “No matter how crazy it sounds, no matter how scared you are, no matter how many people laugh at you, you have to do this, because if you don’t, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.

Do I think the fate of the world hinges on me pulling this off? Not even remotely.

But a good friend of mine once told me, “Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to go out and do stuff and then tell me about it.”

Maybe I have become a real-life Don Quixote.  Maybe I have succumbed to delusions of grandeur.  Maybe the World Tree is nothing but a windmill.

But you know what? Fuck it.  I’m still going after it. And I’ll tell you about it, every step of the way, for as long as I can.

Maybe even just telling the story will be worth something in the long run.

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“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”  (Howard Thurman)

 

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