The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
“I don’t get it.”
It wasn’t the first time he had said those words in the last few minutes and I had to say I was now confused. Especially since they were the only words he had said to me so far. I had let myself in as usual, the door swinging open to the light turn of the handle. The fire was chomping merrily on its feed of turf, and the table between the arm chairs was set with two coffees and a plate of biscuits. I had slipped into my usual seat and related to him a joke I had heard on the way over to visit. The punchline had elicited the first ‘I don’t get it’ and now my attempted explanation had generated the second. Hence my confusion.
“What’s not to get? Here, now I have explained it, let me tell you it again. It might make more sense this time. So, there’s a…”
I was stopped as much by his gaze as his upraised hand. His eyes came up to meet mine
“Please don’t repeat it again. I understood the words and the context, even the attempted use of subtext. I just don’t see why its funny.”
“Look it’s just a joke. No need to take this so seriously. I just heard it on the way over and thought to share it with you. It’s no big deal.”
He leaned back in his chair, his gaze returned to the fire. A slight shake of his head indicating a disappointment that his voice carried to my ears a moment later.
“It seems you’re the one who isn’t getting it now. Either that or you do get it, know that it’s wrong on some level and you’re not accepting your involvement with its propogation.”
The words were delivered without judgment or scorn. Just simple statements carried on the weight of his disappointed soft gentle words.
“Look, I told you already it’s just a joke. It’s not even mine. I heard it from some random folk on the bus.”
If his words of disappointment had been bad, the resignation in his sigh seemed to hit me worse.
“Hey, there is no need to be like this. It’s like you have no sense of humour today.”
He turned back to be and from the frown upon his brow I could see that I had gone too far. The next words, when they came were delivered with a firm directness that he generally reserved for the most serious of conversations. At the time I couldn’t see why he was being so serious about a joke. Now, thankfully, I know better.
“You and I both know that you are no fool. Yet you are a product of the society and cultural values in which you have been raised and to which you have been exposed. So let me lay this out for you so there can be no more confusion about how your actions since walking through my door have lead to the need for me to set you Right.”
I felt a flush of heat run through me and though my brain told me it was the warmth of the fire finally settling in, some part of my instinct disagreed. There was more heat in his gaze than in any fire I had yet experienced.
“You came into my home and spoke words which demean and degrade. These are specifically designed to shock the listener, making them uncomfortable. Yet the purpose of the discomfort is not to educate or denounce those worthy of ridicule. Oh no. These words you chose to speak cause harm.”
“...but it’s only..”
“Stop. You have said quite enough and I allowed you that space to speak. Now it’s time to listen and you would do well to return the courtesy I showed you earlier.”
It wasn’t a demand nor a threat. It was a simple statement addressing the balance of the moment in which we found ourselves.
“As I said you are no fool, yet you seem to think that you can remove yourself from the impact of your actions.”
His big hands came up and he proceed to count the stages of my actions out on his fingers.
“First you deliver what you claim passes for humour. Then you invest some of our time explaining that which never needed to be explained. That which I never asked you to explain.
Next you start backtracking from your own words within moments of observing their impact. Trying to diminish the words themselves as ‘No big deal’. When this failed to get you a response you were comfortable with you moved on to disassociation. ‘I heard it from some random folk on the bus.’. Finally, you went to the worst place this conversation could go. Having not had the ‘joke’ forgiven or dismissed, you turned the fault against me claiming that I have ‘no sense of humour’. You hit every societally programmed step to try twist the conversation so that you are without responsibility for your words and the impact they have caused.”
He never let up with that gaze of his, locking me with its directness and leaving the tension to build as the silence began to stretch out. For all that I was sitting in his front room, looking into that creased and bearded face, I was alone, wrangling with my thoughts and emotions over what had just transpired. First, of course came anger. That emotion for which I had been most rewarded in adolescence. It boiled its way up from my chest, tightening my jaw and turning my mind to thoughts of striking back, lashing out verbally or even physically. This was not truth.
Those eyes never left me for even the duration of a blink. With a deep breath I let anger pass and my thoughts return to the problem at hand. Next came fear, slithering from deep inside of me causing my skin to crawl and shudder as it turned my mind to thoughts of fleeing, of making a dash for the exit and away from this horrible sensation. This was not truth.
Those eyes never left me for even the duration of a blink. With a deep breath I allowed fear to pass and my thoughts return to the challenge at hand. Next came sadness dropping the crushing weight of depression upon my chest and blanketing my thoughts in shame and self loathing. Telling me that I am not worthy of even the smallest of other people’s efforts. This was not truth.
Those eyes never left me for even the duration of a blink. With a deep breath I allowed sadness to pass and my thoughts return to the truth at hand.
I had heard the words of others and was made to feel uncomfortable by them. I had not had the strength to question them on the harm those words caused when they are sent out into the world as thoughts carried upon energy.
I had brought those words into a shared space of one I care and respect and had sought to lessen my discomfort in the act of sharing it with another. I had contributed to the continuance of harmful words. When confronted by someone who had the strength to do that which I had not, I had tried to diminish, disassociate or dismiss my responsibility for the impact of my words.
I felt pride swell up in my chest, filling me with a sense of comfort for the efforts I had put in assessing myself as it turned my thoughts towards congratulations. Those eyes never left me for even the duration of a blink. With a deep breath I let pride pass and my thoughts return once again to the truth at hand.
“I’m sorry for the misuse of the power which I carry within my words. I am responsible for that which I send out in the world and I acknowledge that words can impact thoughts and harm as much as heal. I am grateful to you for your strength and for your guidance.”
“I hear you and have seen the truth you have reached. It it worth the effort to set you Right.”
His gaze shifted to the plate between us and snagged up a biscuit as he slumped back into the comfort of his armchair.
“Have to say though, you’re quite lucky i’m in such a good mood.”
The biscuit I had selected hung halfway on its journey toward my mouth.
“Well in my day, a bard that performed an illegal satire would justifiably end up with a permanent blemish on their face. I would have hated to do such to your handsome features.”
My mind began to reel on the possibilities of The Dagda following through with that action. I felt my jaw drop open in shock, the biscuit all but forgotten in my hand. Which of course was the exact moment he burst into laughter.
“Relax, it was only a joke.”
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