Dec. 4th, 2006 01:46 pm
londo_mollari: (HopefulLondo)
As a small boy, I had a nurse I was very fond of, for many reasons, not least because of the stories she told. One of them dealt with the way the Goddess Li rewarded a brave hero who had done her a service. She gave him a boon. "A dance," the goddess said. "When your hearts are worn out with weariness, only a dance will lift them, and I grant you this boon: you will always recognize the dancer."

This confused myself as a child, but then, my nurse had told me that confusion was the usual state of mortal beings when the gods talked to them. I did ask her for clarification, of course, and she said she always believed the hero had been promised he would find his true love. I accepted this until I found my father sitting by a window, alone, during one of the court receptions it was our duty to attend. "My shoes have grown tight," he said, "and I have forgotten how to dance." His voice was sadder than I had ever heard it before, or again. I did not quite understand what he meant at that moment, but thinking about it later, I recalled that old tale of my nurse's, and wondered whether the one did not explain the other, and whether the boon Li had granted had not been love, true or otherwise, after all, but the joy and passion of youth, which my father felt he had lost.

(Of course, then I wandered into a night club and fell in love with a dancer and married her on the spot, at which point I went from believing that of course the goddess must have meant recognising your true love to believing that there were no gods or true loves and that she had meant to curse the hero anyway.)

I have entered what I have reason to believe is the last third of my life now, and the old story, as most old stories do, keeps coming back to me; I am, after a all, a traditionalist. And thus I would like to suggest a third interpretation, for I believe that the Goddess, unpredictable and yet wise as women tend to be, granted something more precious than either of those assumptions. If you have eyes to see, she was telling the man who had, for some reason, gained her attention, and hearts to give, you will always recognize those who might accept them, be they a girl whose beauty is only rivaled by her sadness and bravery when she smiles at you from across the room, or a woman whose wit is as sharp as her tongue as you have better reason to know than most people, or a young man who for some reason remains determined to rescue you even if you do not wish to be rescued. Or another old fool who is your destiny, if anyone is. Give, and you shall be given in return.

And yet, I do not believe in the gods anymore, not really.

But I do believe I recognise their voices.


londo_mollari: (Default)

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