Saturday, 31 October 2020

Mission Possible

 Why am I here?

Sometimes Danshari asks himself this.

What did I come to Earth to do?

What is the point anyway of a lion whose teeth are not sharp and whose roar doesn't work, a lion who is not very strong?

What is my life for?

What is the point of me?

Sometimes he explores these questions in the privacy of his own mind, but the other day he shared them with his friend Yūgen.

Yūgen says, "There is no point to you, Danshari. You are not for anything. You are alive."


This doesn't sound very promising to Dan de lion.

"A crayon has a purpose," says Yūgen, "or a t-shirt or a fork or this bowl. But you are a living being."

She can see he hasn't really got this.

"If you want something to keep you occupied while you're here," she says, "you could try breathing and smiling. I think that's all you have to do. According to the great Masters."

"Well, I do breathe," Danshari says, "and sometimes I smile. But I mean, what is my mission? Haven't I got one? Did I have one and I lost it? Is my mission over?"

"Oh — " Yūgen shakes her head emphatically. "Your mission isn't over. I can tell." 

"Can you?" This sounds more promising. "How?"

"Because you are alive," says Yūgen. "As long as you are alive, your mission is not over."

"What is it then?"

She smiles at him.

"Over to you," says Yūgen.

That's not very helpful, is it? Maybe even a bit annoying.

Today, Danshari thinks about this conversation he had with Yūgen, as he sits up in the attic.

He's been spending the morning sorting things out. After all, somebody has to do it. You get maggots and carpet beetles and mould if you just let things pile up. And you get bewildered. You have to set your house in order or everything goes wrong and there is nowhere left to play.

Danshari knows there are three parts to this. In the first place it helps to learn the vital skill of saying "No."

Like this.

It's only a short word, and — handily — it is a complete sentence, but sometimes you do have to say it several times, Danshari has discovered. You have to persist. This can throw up problems for a lion who basically likes to make people happy and is just a little bit lazy and inclined to let things slide. Because sometimes supposedly inanimate objects take on a life of their own and move in. To set his house in order a lion has to start by saying No, and meaning it, and sticking to it. Don't bring stuff home. You don't have to make a companion out of everything you like. Sometimes it's better to let things go their own way, and not let them follow you home.

The next thing you have to do is sort things out. Separate them into categories. Toys, clothes, food, rubbish, books, cooking things — you have to be able to tell the difference between them and give them homes where they can settle in and make nests where they will quieten down and stop shouting at you.

Sorting things out is what Danshari is doing today.

He is putting things into different piles and noticing who they are and why they're here. And I wish someone would do that for me, he thinks.

That brings him on to the third Very Important Part of setting your house in order. As well as deciding what to keep and where to put it, he has made a pile of Things To Throw Away.

Because living in a house with its rooms is a bit like living in a chest of drawers. Once it's full, it helps to take a few things out and release them into the wild. You have to let objects leave home.

Danshari knows that if you do these three things — refuse, separate and throw away — suddenly you can breathe again, and everything becomes possible.

He starts to smile.

"That's my mission," he murmurs to himself. "Making things possible."

He tells Yūgen that this is what he came here to do.

"I like that," she says. "It helps everybody breathe and smile."

She thinks for a minute.

"Of course," she adds, "Everybody has to do their bit. You can show us the way but we each have to help or it won't work. We're all just walking each other home."

Yes. Danshari feels he has stumbled on something important today, even if he's not entirely sure what it exactly is.


Tony Collins said...

'My mission is to make things possible.' I love that.

Pen Wilcock said...


UnicorntreebooksBoss said...

Maybe one day I can bring my cycle buddies round to meet your house friends... They'd probably have fantastic stories to share! Absolutely love it (though can I borrow Danshari to come round and sort my house out as I'm rubbish at the throwing things out bit 😉).

C.F.Dunn said...

What a wonderful tale of truths. Things do shout at me, as you describe so beautifully. They shout at me from corners, from under my feet and over my head, and I tell them wait, or yes, or no, and the shouting diminishes a little. But there is still a lot of noise in the clutter, all clamouring for attention, for space. Thank you for your wise words, Pen, and for the furry friends that tell it so well.

Pen Wilcock said...


Thank you. x

Buzzfloyd said...

Tonight we read this one and the previous story with Ursa in it.

Iceni says: Now that I’ve seen Yūgen not so close up, in a picture, I think she’s a quite nice sheep, and a kind sheep. She seems very peaceful and generous. Tell her I like her a lot now and I think she’s amazing. And I really liked the story about Ursa and Danshari. It was a really nice story but it was a bit short. And why didn’t Dan say what he read to Ursa?

Michael says: I want to tell Yūgen I’m sorry and it’s just that she was really close up that surprised me. I don’t really like people being in my face and my space. I like Ursa. I love bears in general.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello Iceni,
Yūgen *is* a kind sheep, and peaceful and generous, just as you said. However you were right to notice that close up she can be terrifying, because she operates on a universal level, which can be terrifying if you are not used to it. Actually almost anyone is terrifying close up.
I think Ursa knew what Dan had read, bt I did not put it in the story, because it would break the heart of anybody who read it. It was about bull-fighting, you see. A child should not read it.
Some stories are shorter than others, it depends how long the thought is. Some thoughts go down a long way instead of going on a long time, if you see what I mean. There are stories that are more like pancakes or pizza — a large surface area but not very deep. We all like pizza and pancakes (well, I do anyway). This story was more like a tooth. Pointy.

Hi, Michael,
Yes, it's a bit of a shock when you suddenly come across someone and they are very near you. Yūgen also knows about you, and she likes you. She thinks there is no need to be sorry. Please don't be worried.
I agree with you that bears are grrrreat. I think your father is rather like a bear, and perhaps you will be one day. There will be more about Ursa in these stories.

Waving to you and to Grace. xx