The King’s Stilts
As a child, one of my favorite books was The King’s Stilts.
Unlike Sam I Am or The Cat in the Hat, this may be a Seuss book you haven’t met (Indeed, Wikipedia says its initial sales were “a disappointment.” Perhaps in 1939, people did not welcome pointed lessons about the evil nibbling at their roots.) so I’ll give you a brief description. Being as perceptive a reader as I suspect you are, you may see why I’m talking about the story today.
When King Birtram worked, he really worked. But when the king played, he really played. And what King Birtram loved best was to fly over the ground on his stilts, urging his vigilant Cat Patrol to chase away the wicked nizzards that threatened to eat the trees whose roots grew around the kingdom, protecting it from the sea.
But stilts lack regal dignity. And the chief minister, Lord Droon, disapproved of them. So he arranged for the stilts to disappear.
The king could no longer play so hard. And so, he no longer worked as hard. Nor did his Patrol Cats. The nizzards ate, the trees gave way, and water began to leak across the land…
You can probably see the ending: the king’s page brings back the stilts, the king’s humor is restored, the Cat Patrol resumes its duties, the kingdom is saved. (And Lord Droon? He’s imprisoned, and condemned to eat roast nizzard every day.)
Stilts are all about balance.
Many of us have spent the last week in mourning, sitting and staring into a bleak future of 48 months under the next White House Occupant (which come to think of it, may be the best way to address the person.) My last post here talked about the need to step in and become the missing checks-and-balances during those 48 months (or at least, the 24 months until the mid-term electees are sworn in) and right now yes, I agree that the task is a dreary one, too enormous to even begin to wrap my head around. Damn it, climate change is real, as in a real and present danger! Women are people before we’re body parts! And I happen to like having Hispanic neighbors! Good God, there’s so much work it’s hopeless–where do I even begin?
But we have to remember that autocrats hate freedom. Tryants are afraid of honest laughter. The holy fool speaks painful truths and grins in the face of the king. (And occasionally gets beaten up for his temerity, but we’ll leave that for the moment…)
The coming months will be filled with the need for serious action and committed response. But don’t forget to breathe deep. And when your lungs are full, use your breath to laugh aloud.
Really play, so we can really work.
Time to get out the stilts.