Thursday, May 18, 2006

Coup de grace: An allegory

I'm going to be a little cryptic here; don't mind me. Sometimes there are things I'm just itching -- aching -- to blog about and I just can't, usually because of the privacy issues of the person(s) involved. Oftentimes when I do blog about it, I change the names to protect the guilty ... sometimes it's to protect the feelings of the person involved... anyway, you surely get my drift. This time I decided to make it into a little allegorical story:

Once upon a time there was a faraway land called West Runistan. In that fair country, the king held weekly banquets, and anyone in the kingdom could come and eat. The great hall was lavishly decorated each week by the most gifted artisans in the land, and those in attendance could enjoy a wonderful program put on in the king's honor by an enormous orchestra and a talented dance troupe.

One day, two dancers were chatting with one another. "I have something I need to talk about," said Bhodhran to his friend Khalimbo. He then proceeded to confess to Khalimbo that he often wished he could play in the orchestra instead of dancing, because he has discovered that he really loves playing the violin. In fact, he said, he never practices dancing at home anymore, choosing instead to practice playing the violin. Bhodhran, like most others, had signed onto the dance troupe as a very young man, before he had really come to know his true calling. He had spent many years suffering in silence; even though he was an incredibly gifted dancer, he yearned to perform publicly on the violin.

Few people in Runistan ever successfully made that sort of transition, however. It was considered a betrayal, and most people who chose to do it were no longer seen as "complete" people. Even though they may perform their second skill admirably, it never quite measured up to having spent their entire life performing only their first skill. In some areas of the country, people who left their first skill were not even allowed to take up a second skill at all. If they chose to leave their first skill, their lives were spent on the fringes of society, undeserving of the joy of performing the skill they truly loved.

Khalimbo often found that he was the recipient of the confessions of his friends. He kept them to himself, however, and never told their troubles to anyone else. He himself loved dancing and never wanted to do anything else, but he had compassion and understanding for his friends.

Khalimbo and another dancer, Oudistor, were also good friends and often shared choreography ideas with the Lead Dancer. One day Khalimbo and Oudistor were talking. "It looked like the guys in the orchestra last week were having a great time. They always do such a good job. I wonder what it's like sitting on that side of the great hall?" said Khalimbo.

Oudistor was shocked; did Khalimbo want to quit dancing? "Maybe you should take some time off from dancing to get some rest," Oudistor told Khalimbo.

"Oh, I don't know that that's necessary," said Khalimbo, not catching the significance of Oudistor's suggestion. Oudistor then said nothing, but went to the Lead Dancer to share his concerns. Khalimbo was immediately suspended from the troupe to examine his priorities.

Khalimbo was devastated by this; he had never wanted to do anything but dance, and had not ever even entertained the notion of quitting the troupe. He loved the king, and he loved making the king happy with his dancing and his choreography; nothing else had ever mattered to him.

He was summoned to appear before the Lead Dancer to discuss his commitment to the troupe. He was quite distressed by the entire situation, but agreed to meet with the Lead Dancer in a few weeks.

In the meantime, Bhodhran came to check on Khalimbo and to let him know that he had really missed seeing him at dance practice. Khalimbo chose not to mention the real reason he'd missed practice, not wishing to discourage Bhodhran, but instead just told him that he was taking some time off to rest. Even though he himself had been betrayed unnecessarily, he had no intention of either "outing" Bhodhran OR of causing him to be even more distressed about his own predicament. Right is still right, you know.

Khalimbo is a good friend of mine and has promised to let me know how his meeting with the Lead Dancer goes. I may mention it when it occurs, or I may not. Just depends on whether I feel I need to have an outlet to discuss it. I have been privy to this situation for quite some time now, and I just don't feel comfortable blogging openly about it because of all the different people involved... but I knew that if I could put it into an obtuse allegory form, I might be able to get away with it!

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