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- C.S. Lewis
- The Wishing Map
Part One: I Dare You
(Warning: Graphic violence)
My parents loved visiting their old friends Don and Gina, who had an only child named Craig (I’m an only child, too). I didn’t really enjoy being with Craig, because, although I had a hint of a wild streak, compared to Craig I was a hopeless pantywaist. Still, we hung out together when our parents visited, because, well, what else was there to do?
Craig had an ardently devoted pet, a shepherd-mutt mix named Rusty, and wherever Craig went, Rusty went. So when Craig headed for a nearby urban L.A. riverbed, Rusty was right at his heels.
Craig led us to a railroad trestle and climbed unhesitatingly up onto it, followed by Rusty and me. We’d barely arrived when we heard the blare of a diesel horn. A freight train was moving toward us at an alarming rate.
“First one to jump is a chicken!” Craig shouted gleefully.
I was the chicken. A moment later, Craig made his victorious leap to the riverbank. But Rusty was afraid. Craig shouted, “Come on, boy!” Rusty whimpered, fearful of the drop. “Rusty, jump!” Craig yelled. But Rusty just stood there whining.
“Rusty!” Craig screamed.
And then the train struck. It hurled the frightened dog between the steel beams and onto the riverbank twenty feet below.
Craig ran to him. Rusty was panting hard, bleeding profusely, and barely conscious. Craig gently scooped him up, weeping bitterly, and carried his best friend home. There was a vulnerability in Craig I’d never seen before. And never saw again.
The veterinarian amputated Rusty’s tail and re-set his hip and leg bones, but Craig’s faithful companion died a week later.
I’d like to say Craig changed, but he didn’t. Or maybe Rusty’s death hardened him; I don’t know. At any rate, five years later, at the age of 16, he was killed while racing drunk across town in a convertible.
Two other people died.
The moment his mother called our house, I knew. I wasn’t sure how I knew, I just did. I didn’t know how to pray back then. But I do now. In fact, I’m praying for each of the people involved as I write this (I may be bound by time, but the One who hears me isn’t).
Craig’s devastated parents split up a year later. Decisions don’t occur in a vacuum, they send ripples into other people’s lives, far beyond what we can see.
If that had been the sole incident, I might have skated past the panic. But it wasn’t. A month later, I had another train encounter. It ended less tragically, but completed a one-two* punch to my pre-adolescent psyche.
Were these incidents precursors to the anxiety I would experience as an adult? Maybe. Or maybe my brain was simply trying fear on for size. Our minds are like that. Fear is always a possibility.
But so is the overcoming of fear.
*To read Part Two (Conclusion), click here.
It’s been one of the American stock market’s most tumultuous weeks. Last Friday, U.S. stocks plummeted. But that was OK, because Monday made last Friday look like the good ol’ days: Stocks had their biggest one day drop in history! Since then, stocks have bounced up and down like a rubber ball. Meanwhile…
Sharks are cruisin’
minnows are bruisin’
The whole thing’s just so damn confusin’
“The United States has developed a new weapon that destroys people, but it leaves buildings standing. It’s called the stock market.” ~Jay Leno
“Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.” ~Warren Buffett
“One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute.” ~William Feather
“If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice.” ~Norman Ralph Augustine
“A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year.” ~Marty Allen
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ~William Shakespeare
Money, knowledge, allies: all are useful on a quest. But if you can only choose one, choose allies.
Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-One: “Hey-fah for the Sea!”
Previously: Gina was given a sword with which to smite her “true enemy.”
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
As they stepped onto the main road leading into Kellansend, Gina looked up at the paint splatter of evening stars and said, “I wonder if everything’s OK at home.”
“We’ve been in bed for forty-five minutes.”
“If we were home, I mean. It would have been like forty-five minutes ago that we said good night to Momandad.”
“Holy…” When Gina gestured, she felt the harness pull with the movement. She’d gotten used to it surprisingly quickly, which was fortunate because it couldn’t be removed. She knew because she’d tried—fourteen times. Each time she’d slipped the leather suspenders off her shoulders and reached to undo the front buckle the suspenders had simply slid…
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My mind wanders on Tuesdays.
My inner child wants to know if your inner child can come out to play.
See you on Wednesday.
Who would I be today if I’d said “yes”?
Have you ever wondered who you’d be if at some point you’d taken a different fork in the road? Pursued a different career. Married a different person. Chosen not to pet that baby alligator.
My first big fork came in Fifth Grade. Mr. Taketa was a politely obsessive Japanese-born teacher who wasn’t much taller than we were. He kept a clerk’s bell on his desk and made us memorize a series of Pavlovian dings: One bell = nap time, two bells = announcements (accompaniment by Mr. T’s strident, “’tension, please, ‘tension!”), three bells = Math, etc.
But four bells meant Art, and this was when Mr. Taketa’s clerkish demeanor wilted and his passion bloomed. Art had clearly been his fork in the road, the path he regretted not having taken. Perhaps he wasn’t talented enough. Or perhaps his parents had insisted he pursue something sensible, like teaching rude American fifth graders how to…
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