Culture

The Story Dance

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October 10th, 2009

 

In a village near a forest lived a man named Ed. He loved to explore the woods and share his discoveries with the people of the village. One day while wandering, Ed came across a wild bird that he’d seen many times before—a medium size white bird that was fairly common and ordinary looking. It was called the Truth Bird.

The villagers had heard Ed describe the bland bird several times and had become tired of his descriptions and illustrations. Ed had often seen the Truth Bird in his strolls through the forest. In fact he rarely even noticed it anymore. But on this day, Ed's attention became fixed on the bird. He sat down on a stump and began to watch.

At first the bird stayed in the trees, hopping from branch to branch. A twig snapped loudly when Ed shifted his weight. The bird paused for a moment but didn’t fly away. It looked at him and then jumped from its perch and floated like a fall leaf to the ground. Ed’s eyes stayed on the Truth Bird as it gently touched down in a clearing on the forest floor. Upon landing, the bird ruffled its feathers. The sparkle of color surprised Ed. The brilliance of its hidden plumage leaked through the plain white feathers like beams of sunlight through clouds. The bird smoothed its feathers and was again ordinary. It walked in a small circle then turned and walked a circle in the opposite direction. One wing stretched out and Ed was again dazzled by the colorful pattern hidden beneath. The wing folded in as the other stretched out revealing more powerful hues. He watched as the Truth Bird’s movements became more radical and wild. Each action revealed more spectacular rainbow-hued feathers. Each motion seemed almost choreographed to reveal the real nature of the Truth Bird. The dance continued and Ed was captivated by the power and glory it revealed. How long this uncontrolled display went on, he didn’t know. But when the Truth Bird finally settled down and veiled its bright plumage under its dull white cover, Ed was physically exhausted and emotionally drained.

Watching the wild, untamed power of the bird’s dance had touched him in ways he couldn’t describe. As he neared town, Ed became more and more excited about sharing this experience with the people of the village. While he walked his mind raced and his heart pounded with anticipation. The Truth Bird wasn’t the common thing he’d thought. He experienced it in a new way and was amazed by the power revealed through the dance. As he entered the village he called to his friends and even grabbed strangers. He gathered them around and began to describe the new thing he’d witnessed. He explained the dance and described the colors. He told them all about the Truth Bird. At first his energy and excitement engaged the people. They listened intently but began to fade when they realized he was talking about the plain, ordinary Truth Bird they’d seen so many times before. Ed became frustrated as he noticed the glazed look that came over their eyes. As the crowd dispersed, he even began to doubt if the dance had ever happened.

The next day Ed returned to the forest. He needed to find the Truth Bird and see if it would dance for him again. As soon as he set foot in the wood he saw the bird. It flew toward him as if it was looking for him too. Ed waited and it didn’t take long. The bird began to circle and turn. The colors and movements were even more wonderful than he’d remembered. He wanted to run to the village and drag the people back, but he couldn’t move. The dance and what it revealed about the Truth Bird captivated him. Ed watched in awe as the bird danced. His mind reeled and his heart pounded with passion as the bird danced on. Ed realized that the only way for the people of the village to really be impacted by the Truth Bird was for them to witness the dance. They’d never come to the forest, so he would have to bring the Truth Bird to the village. He set out to study the Truth Bird, so that he could capture it and let it dance for the people.

Day after day Ed returned to the forest to watch the Truth Bird. Each time, it seemed to seek him out as much as he sought it. The bird was friendly and approachable. It seemed tame enough until it began to dance; then it became unpredictable and even a little dangerous. The wild colors and uncontrollable movements of the dance intimidated Ed. He’d watch in awe and wonder, and he longed to share the experience with his friends in the village; but he was concerned that they may be frightened by the untamed nature of the Truth Bird. The more he watched the dance, the greater he felt the need to share it with others. Ed’s desire to let others witness this spectacle wrestled with his fear of the risky, unmanageable nature it revealed. The battle raged within him as he wandered the woods for five weeks and four days. Walking home on the thirty-ninth day, he decided the risk was worth the reward. He would bring the Bird of Truth to the village, but he had to find a way to contain it.

<p style=”margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 10px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 10px; padding-left: 0px; “> On the fortieth day, Ed put a piece of rope in his pocket before he left for his walk in the woods. Again the Truth Bird approached him as he entered the forest. The bird danced for him again, and again Ed was deeply moved. When the bird finished dancing, Ed pulled the rope from his pocket and walked slowly toward it. His heart was pounding, and his adrenaline was flowing. As he approached the bird, Ed looped the end of the rope and knelt down. The bird didn’t move. The Truth Bird let Ed get closer and closer until he could reach out and touch it. He was in awe. At this moment it looked plain and common, but he couldn’t help but remember the power of the dance he’d witnessed just moments before. Slowly, Ed lifted one of the bird’s feet and gently placed the loop around its leg. There was no resistance, no struggle. The Truth Bird seemed almost happy to be captured. Just as slowly as he approached, Ed moved away from the bird. With one end of the rope securely around the bird’s leg, he tied the other to a point on his belt. He could now bring the Truth Bird back to the village—but he was still worried about how they would react to the wildness of the dance.

Ed decided to catch his breath before he began his walk back to town. As he rested, the bird started making the circular patterns that marked the beginning of the dance. But this time it was different. The movements, while still impressive, weren’t nearly as wild. The colors were different; they seemed contained and controlled. With the Truth Bird securely attached to Ed’s belt, it couldn’t move freely. It was tied to a point and could only do a toned-down, tame version of the wild dance Ed had been watching for so long. Because he had seen the dance many times, Ed could picture all the amazing colors and thrilling movements of the real dance, but this controlled version seemed safer. He was thrilled at this development. Now the people could get a taste of the real nature of the bird without the fear of them being blown away by its power and glory. As long as it was tied to the point, he could control the dance.

During the walk back to town, the Truth Bird hopped onto Ed’s shoulder and seemed to enjoy the ride. The two became more comfortable with each other. Ed was humbled and honored to have such an amazing bird as a companion, and the bird seemed to appreciate Ed’s desire to share it with others. As he entered the village, he gathered the people together, this time without explanations or descriptions. Instead, he set the bird, still tied to the point on his belt, in the middle of the Town Square and stepped back. Everyone’s attention was focused on the Bird of Truth.

After only a moment the bird began to circle in one direction and then another. Ed was excited that, finally, the people would be able to experience the amazing power of the dance. The dance began, but because it was tied to the point, the bird’s movements were hindered. The new colors were apparent but not nearly as dazzling as when the bird was free. The actions of this controlled version of the dance hinted at the wildness but seemed domesticated. Because he’d been witness to the real dance, Ed was still thrilled by this pale imitation. As the bird finished the dance and settled back into the ordinary white bird that was so familiar, Ed looked up expecting to see awe and wonder in the faces of the village people. What he saw was far different. Instead of being powerfully moved by the dance, the people seemed somewhat entertained but ultimately unimpressed.

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