In that realm there was a young hunter
and the hunter had a horse that was a horse of power.
It belonged to the men of long ago,
a swift horse with a broad chest,
eyes of fire and hoofs of iron.
There are no such horses nowadays.
They sleep deeply in the earth
with the men who rode them,
waiting for the time when the world has need of them again.
Then, all the great horses will thunder up
from under the ground
and the valiant men of old will leap from their graves.
Those men of old will ride the horses of power,
and with the swinging of clubs and a thundering of hoofs,
they will sweep the earth clean of the enemies of God.
At least, that is what my grandfather said,
and his grandfather said it before him,
and if they don’t know, well, who does?
– Michael Meade, from “Introduction to the Firebird Story”
in Men and the Water of Life
The scientist did one last scan of the resumé that filled up his laptop screen, looking for glitches and fake news. Finding none of either, he tapped the keyboard keys that commanded conversion of the resumé from word processor to portable document format, tapped more that attached the resumé to the email message …
“Please send us your resumé as soon as you can, after we get it we’ll set up a call with you early next week to discuss the matter further.”
… then, when the attachment had finished loading, reached for the key that would send the message on its way …
All the great horses will thunder up from under the ground
and the valiant men of old will leap from their graves.
“Well”, the scientist mused, “they certainly got the ‘old man’ part right.”
Nice try, whitebeard. The line is ‘men of old’. That’s different, and you know it.
The scientist thought wryly that maybe he should have let his alter ego run things from the very beginning.
So you could wind up in some smoky closet of a bar in rural North Dakota, cracking rotten jokes and getting rotten tomatoes thrown at you?
“Hm. That’s rather less than your usual braggadocio.”
Right. I figured I’d better get that line in before you did. Give me credit for learning something after living in your skull all this time.
“So that’s where all the skullduggery has been coming from!”
Ha. Haha. Ha. Bbttttttttspk! Dammit, Amoeba, you know as well as I do that, if I hadn’t been along, you probably would have crawled into a shoe or something when you were five years old, and never come out! Dog knows things have been bad enough. Yer mama still tells people about how you refused to follow your brother up trees ’cause you thought you might get hurt. What’s your brother up to these days, anyway?
“He’s been dead these thirty years. I’ll take the points on that one, thank you.”
Yeah, bah! You still worry too much. What’s got you spooked this time, fraidycat?
“They might find out that I am a fraidycat, which isn’t going to fit well with this valiant men of old picture – which I’m going to have to count on if these folks are set on trying to find this 18 year old with twenty year’s experience, like everyone else is, and I have to argue why they have to hire whitebeard – your word – instead. And, a fraidycat whose feet have most definitely got the clay thing going.”
You are worried about that, Mr. “We’re Research, By Definition We Don’t Know What We’re Doing”?? This covenant strategy seems to be working to cover both your nerves and your clay feet and get stuff done anyhow. And they know all about it. They think they need you, because of this, or they wouldn’t be asking. Why wouldn’t it continue?
“You can ask, you who are best buds with Murphy?”
Never heard of him. Must be one of your buds.
“He’s Irish. That’s as close as I want to get, trust me. Where’s my horse of power?”
That Honda Civic’s pretty flash.
“Yeah, but a Lamborghini it isn’t. And I’ve not got any clubs.”
Bull. They’re in the closet.
“Which they haven’t left in years. After all this time, I’d probably hit the golf ball full on the club face and the ball would just sit there while the club fell to dust in my hands.”
You’d actually hit the ball?!? Who are you and what have you done with my Amoeba?
“Speaking of hitting. Why do we keep thinking that somebody, something is going to swoop through, someday, to clean up after us and keep it clean? Haven’t we learned yet that the ‘enemies of God’, whoever that is, keep coming back because they are us?!? That any cause, any initiative, however noble it’s made out to be, sooner or later pisses off enough people to topple it? Usually including lots of the people who were the most ardent supporters of whateveritwas initially?”
Yeah, which is how come CEOs and other top execs typically don’t last more than a few years in any company. Meanwhile, they do as much good as they can. And they usually land on their feet. Unlike the poor sod at the other end of the org chart. You’ve been there enough to know. So, you going to send that thing? Or are you going to piss me off? Again??
The scientist sighed, tapped “Send” and sent the resumé on its way. And then went out to the local high school, stood at one end of the
football gridiron field, grabbed a football, and heaved it towards the opposite endzone.
Figuratively speaking … as any football he tried to throw in real life would only dribble sideways a few yards.
Your feet of clay have served you well. I predict they will continue to do so.
Do try to avoid hammering the point home.
Oh my…. do you know what comes next in the story? Keep those clay feet nearby — you will need them to survive (old men know that trick)… and yes, that “Horse of Power” will get you through to the next task….
“One day in the spring of the year,
the young hunter was riding through the forest on his horse of power.
The leaves were growing green in the sun
and there were little blue flowers under the trees.
Squirrels ran in the branches,
hares worked through the undergrowth,
yet, it was quiet. No birds sang.
The young hunter listened for the birds,
but the forest was silent
except for the scratching of the four-footed beasts,
the dropping of pine cones,
and the heavy stomping of the horse of power.
â€œWhat has happened to the birds?â€ the young hunter mused aloud.
He had scarcely uttered the words
when he saw a big, curved feather lying on the path before him.
The feather was larger than that of a swan,
longer than that of an eagle.
It lay there glittering on the path like a flame of the sun,
for it was a feather of gold.
Then the youth knew why there was no singing in the forest;
he knew that the firebird had flown that way,
and the flame on the path was a feather from its burning breast.
Suddenly, the horse of power spoke
and said, â€œLeave the flaming feather where it lies!
If you take it, you will be sorry,
for you will know trouble, and you will learn the meaning of fear.â€
The young hunter turned the matter over in his mind.
Should he pick up the golden feather or not?
He had no wish to learn fear,
and who needs more trouble?
But on the other hand, if he picked up the feather
and presented it to the king,
the king would be pleased and might reward and honor him,
for no king had a feather from the
e burning breast of the firebird.
The young hunter turned the decision this way and that.
What would you do?
Would you pick up the feather?
Or, would you play safe,
and leave it lying on the ground?”
â€“ Michael Meade, from â€œThe Firebird Storyâ€
in the book, â€œMen and the Water of Lifeâ€
And you pushed send…. God help us all!
Funny how the automakers have done away with talking horses…
It is perhaps worth cautioning not to read too much into a work of fiction … or of blog. And it could be argued that all who have taken roads less traveled have golden feathers in their backpacks.