All settled in with my B, PB, AB, AP sandwich (OK, that was tricky I know; Butter, Peanut Butter, Apple Butter, Apricot Preserves on multi-grain bread…vanilla bean ice cream on the side with dark French Roast coffee, freshly pressed); yesterday the 18 year old puppy got a glowing report from the vet after her annual check-up; the weed garden is starting to come alive, it is a great day…but…
I was thumbing through my book of questions: How do you achieve world peace?, What must you learn from a blind, mute fool? When does a person (it was originally written, “a man”, please forgive if I miss a word correction, I mean never to offend or in any way seem sexist, racist or any of the other “ists”) have all that they may have in this world and be in Hell?
This last question was one of the easiest to answer, I was 12.
A little history, when I lived with my grandparents, my mother’s parents, I was just past toddler, well into obnoxious and just shy of school; I lived with them during my second, third and fourth years. Mom and Grampy were from well educated, in every sense talented, very strict German, Dutch, French stock. The first book that Mom and I read together was “King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table (there were no pictures). The second book were addressed was “The Prince” by Machiavelli; Mom wanted to be sure I understood what was happening in the King Arthur piece (I was approaching four, like two weeks after my third birthday).
For my fourth birthday, Grampy (a man that had once had great wealth, he retained many fine things, but demonstrated his coping with poverty but slicing pot roast so thin you could read the news through it) gave me my first book; “Bulfinch’s Mythology” which I devoured.
The story may be Roman or Greek and as I remember it may not be word for word, but…I think you might understand what it says.
Vaicott (not the name in the original story, but will do) spent his best days mocking the gods, on his worst days he cursed them, he always denied them and would beat his servants for praying to them.
As age and illness attacked Vaicott dragging him closer and closer to his end he yelled to his children, his servants, to the world: “You see, pain and pox, age and anguish are all about me. Should I throw pence or gold at statue or priest to have your gods heal me or am I fated like all to die and rot.” Vaicott laughed, laughed his miserable chackle until he slept.
His children, his servants and indeed most of the world, with heads lowered walked away from his house.
When Vaicott awoke from his slumber he found himself in Paradise; the gods and goddesses greeted and embraced him. They talked to a younger healthier man, a man that could drink in the beauty, the indescribable splendor that was this world.
He knew the embrace of a goddess, with passion…ecstasy beyond his wildest imaginings, he broke bread that the merest crumb would sate any hunger, wine that was indeed, ambrosia.
He looked up from the table a figure emerged from a splendid light, the figure became clear as all the lesser gods bowed and backed away. Vaicott saw this god of gods extend his hand and place it on it on his shoulder, “Vaicott, you shall have anything you desire, wealth, health, any woman or man you desire, anything but death and not here.”
Vaicott awoke in his own bed, he was young, healthy, Kings and Princes bowed to him. Praise seemed to come from swine, the finest food tasted like dung, nothing on this earth could give him pleasure; the gods had condemned him to Hell, Hell on earth.
I don’t know if I am spending a brief moment in Paradise, but my sandwich is, was terrific, coffee stimulating and this time we’ve spent together truly grand.
Never, never mock the gods they just may bless you…for a while.