Sunday, August 30, 2015

"The Story Stick"

I've decided to dub it "The Story Stick" -- a six-foot tall maple sapling that I stripped of bark, sanded, burned a little design into and had a small, tinkling bell affixed by an ironsmith to the top.

I met the sapling forty years ago in a third- or fourth-growth stand of unremarkable trees upcountry from here. It stood in the woods forty years ago and for some reason I wanted it for a walking stick, though I didn't use one. It wasn't significantly different from the saplings around it. I cut it down, trimmed it a bit, and saved it until 2011 when at last I got around to 'finishing' it. Kept it for 40 years: That's quite a stretch.

What was its magnetism? I really don't want to make a magical mystery tour out of some 'mystical' connection between us, but there is something a bit odd about keeping this stick for forty years without doing anything until I did, in fact, do and have done something.

Nowadays, when I go for my ritualized old-fart walk around the block, the stick comes with me, tinkling now and then. There is no real melody. The stick just does what it does ... and keeps me company.

Now and then, I will stop to chat with people who may be tending their yards or passing by and sometimes they will comment on my stick. "You look like a shepherd," the plump lady down the street said. "Where are your sheep?"  Others have suggested, "You look like a wizard" or asked, "What is it for?"

And more than one person, like the man yesterday, has asked, "Did you make it?" The question leaves me strangely flummoxed within. I would like to be honest, but honesty somehow escapes me. Naturally, I didn't make the maple. Naturally, I did 'make,' in some sense, the design and finish. Who made this thing? As I say, I don't want to make a federal case out of it -- some mystical la-la talk, but I wonder for myself as well: What is this stick that walks and talks with me? It's just a stick, for heaven's sake ... but it's a stick with a statement. The bell tinkles. Is it a warning or an invitation? Is it just another ego trip?

How shall I sum it up.

And today it came to me that calling it "The Story Stick" was pretty good. The story stick is a thing that allows others to create their own stories without interfering. It is magical because there is no magic.

Or, put another way, there is only magic.

How nice in this day and age when everything seems to be teeming with too much information to process and make use of to find something so simple. It doesn't plug in. It doesn't demand anything. It has no angle and there is no 'benefit' in it. It is no threat: It's just a stick... sort of.

It's just a story stick, calling out the art and artistry that anyone might apply. Easy-peasy.

It's just a story stick like you or me.

Or, perhaps, it's just this story I have tried to tell.

1 comment:

  1. As i understand it, the bell is to notify tigers of your approach. How much the rest of the stick might have to do with tigers would speak to the level of technology available back in the day.