Saturday, January 25, 2014

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

One flip of the page and you might find a very intrepid little girl called Goldilocks, a mischievous little adventurer who explores everything between absence and natural pleasure.  In a forest called Noia where all the empty spaces left behind in the real world are filled-up with earth and foliage, Goldilocks comes upon a dear little cottage.

            The little cottage was bursting with character. Adornments and embellishments raced to be where they were not; then other objects took their place. They moved about in countless configurations, reducing their sum into tiny bits of purity. The desire to enter this dwelling so fervently felt, that Goldilocks forgot herself for a moment; pushed open the door and went inside.

            The cottage was in a state of perpetual existence; quaint and pretty on the inside, a reflection of the constantly shifting shingles and windowsills on the outside. Goldilocks could not imagine a time in the future when she would not desire the happiness she felt while inside this little cottage.

            Just then, she noticed three bowls of enchanting porridge sitting up upon the table; proof, she thought, of the perpetual existence of human desire.

            Feeling a bit peckish, Goldilocks dipped a Golden spoon into the biggest bowl of all… and took a bite.

“Ouch!” she cried. “That porridge is far too hot!”

            Goldilocks stood there, thinking an infinite number of thoughts about the nature of hot porridge.

            This steaming bowl of porridge will forever be dear to me
         It taught me that things are not what they seem
         And often times completely off ~ far away from our view
         The moment that porridge touched my lips
         Endless sensations swirled, until they were quiet again
         My heart leaped, but I was not afraid
         The wind came, caressing its way across my cheek
         I blushed not!
         Then I called to mind a second bowl
         Sitting and gazing back up at me
         The sense of exploration enveloped me
         An immensity of new thoughts arose
         From this sweet cold upon my mouth

            Goldilocks thought her way back to the table where the medium-sized bowl of porridge proudly sat. No wonder the chair was so still, she retorted to herself.

            The velvet-lined seat of pleasure was in a perpetual state of transfixedness, forever associated with beauty by all who gaze upon it; but fabric wrinkles and creases, and those who once found delight upon her cloth are now immensely tired of it. They sought to abandon it, to search for other, more imminently pleasing pieces of furniture. Three legs or four, raised or lowered, reclining or upright ~ they leap … and land on the footrest, a poor substitute for a chair.

            We are in the beginning of this story, in which, as Goldilocks says of her adventure, we abandon earlier pleasures for ones that are more difficult. Acolytes of the ‘grass on the other side of the meadow being greener’, we call to mind again how we felt when we first gazed upon that initial bowl or porridge in the hopes of experiencing happiness, which is itself a passion. Filling the experience with all that we have inside ourselves, the shock that came upon us after we discovered that it was not what we thought it would be tore through our insides, tears rose beneath our eyelids and we wept. Full of travail, our thoughts were instantly still.

            The moment changed ~ and yet, remembering it, kept it there. Reckoning up the cycles of sorrow at having burned her tongue on that sultry intensity that stings its recipients with a vehemence known when in the throws of enthusiasm and excitement, Goldilocks wondered, just exactly WHO would serve porridge so biting hot?

            Then she reminded herself that it was she who took that bite, unaided and coaxed not. In that split-second, Goldilocks realized that the pain only endured when she thought of what caused it. Could she move on and enjoy other porridge without thinking upon this bowl again? Would it serve her to keep her mind ablaze, smoldering with regret and resentment for having tasted something before it was ready to be eaten?

            “Don’t be ridiculous!” she shouted, but no one was there to hear her lament.
            Goldilocks felt herself feeling quite flustered. Oddly enough, she was feeling obsessed and consumed by a feverish desire to return to the glow of the flame from that first, highly unfortunate bite. Right then, she felt something drop! She looked around but all was still. She looked inside herself and saw that it was her happiness that had fallen to the ground. “I wonder if this has anything to do with my continuing to think about hot porridge?”
            With that thought, Goldilocks fell deeply quiet. Her mind felt void, yet it was filled with indifference. “This is not terrible, neither is it enjoyable!” she bellowed. “It drowns in its own noise, sings in infinite silence, and fashions everything it desires far away from its view. No wonder it is cold.”

            Then her thoughts mingled again.  “Can a hot bowl of porridge or a cold bowl of porridge yield anyone pleasure? Surely they must, and then again, they might not.”

            Goldilocks wondered how to solve the riddle she was creating for herself. “A clue seems to be in the anticipation,” she concluded, “either of the same, better, or worse to come. It is in the search for the sublime that we dare to identify ourselves with the heroic flower, the lover of decadent places that are abandoned by the world.”  

            Converting purity of diction to the next metaphoric experience, Goldilocks noticed a very small bowl that she had not seen before. With the other two bowls conveniently pushed out of the way, Goldilocks dipped her Golden spoon into the last and littlest bowl of porridge. Within moments, her hunger vanished and she found herself growing very content, and then sleepy.

            Making her way up the stairs in search of a soft place upon which she could rest her head, Goldilocks was greeted by three little beds. She lied down on the first one and immediately closed her eyes in anticipation of a lovely sleep. Growing pale from the discomfort the hardness of this unforgiving bed inflicted upon anyone daring to recline upon it, Goldilocks took courage and moved over to the second. Assuring herself that this bed would be different ~ because the pillows were soft and embroidered with hummingbirds ~ Goldilocks bounced on the bed and instead of bouncing right back up, nestled into a perfectly fine spot where she sunk uncomfortably so, all the way down into the cushioned goodness ~ to the point she thought she might disappear forever!

            With all the strength she could command of her arms, Goldilocks reached up and latched onto the side of the headboard; pulling herself out of a material abyss, she glanced back, thinking to herself how very deceiving one’s perceptions on something as innocuous as fabrics can be.

            Utterly exhausted and quite dissatisfied with the amount of effort she was investing in such a simple act; Goldilocks scanned the room for another opportunity to rest her brain. As she did so, she noticed a little bed in the corner of the room; like the littlest bowl of porridge, she had not noticed in the beginning.  As Goldilocks stood, fretting over what lie in store for her with this bed, she noticed a peculiar beam of light shinning down upon it from the northwest skylight.

            The duvet was simple; it was a light cream-colored material adorned with daisies as unassuming as the corner where the bed stood. “Maybe I can just rest here for a moment,” thought Goldilocks, and she lied down upon the bed and immediately thereafter fell fast asleep.

            While Goldilocks slept… the three bears that lived in the Noian cottage returned.

            Father Bear was too busy taking off his boots to notice that the door was ajar. Mother Bear, as always, had her hands full of flowers from their morning walk. It was Baby Bear who felt that something didn’t quite ‘feel’ right.

            “Something feels strange, Papa,” said Baby Bear, looking around the room trying to figure out just what it was that felt strange.

            Papa Bear nodded, but did not lift his head, as he was busy tightening a loose bolt on the entryway bench.

            “Something feels off, Mama,” repeated Baby Bear, redirecting his concern to his mother, who usually paid more attention to what he had to say than did Papa Bear; but this time, Mama Bear was busy, too, and when Mama Bear was busy all she would ever say is “Not now, Baby Bear. Can’t you see Mama has her hands full?”

            Knowing full well that Mama and Papa Bear were not the least bit interested in what Baby Bear was wondering, he decided to investigate on his own. “I don’t see anything unusual,” Baby Bear said to himself, “but I know our cottage, and something does not abide, though I do not know what that is.”

            Baby Bear made his way into the kitchen, where all Baby bears go for mid-morning snacks. Sitting on the table right in front of him were the three bowls of porridge that Mama Bear left out to cool while they gathered flowers in the woods. Just as Baby Bear started to smile remembering that he had porridge waiting for him, he realized that something was wrong with this scene.

            He sniffed Papa Bear’s porridge and smelled something sweeter than honey. He then smelled Mama Bear’s porridge and smelled the very same sweet smell. Then when he leaned in to smell his own porridge, he was surprised that it had no smell at all … for it was all gone!

            “Mama Bear! Papa Bear!” Shouted Baby Bear at the top of his lungs. “Someone has eaten my porridge!”

            But Mama Bear and Papa Bear didn’t hear Baby Bear clearly as he was shouting from deep inside the kitchen and the sounds were a bit muffled by the time they arrived back to the front of the cottage.

            “That’s nice!” Shouted Mama Bear and Papa Bear in unison, thinking Baby Bear was announcing that it was ‘he’ who had eaten all of his porridge. In fact, Mama Bear looked up at Papa Bear who gave her a satisfactory grin, for Baby Bear was a notoriously picky eater and often times preferred berries to porridge.

            “Our baby bear is growing up,” proudly exclaimed Papa Bear.

            “He sure is!” replied Mama Bear, and they both went back to doing exactly what they had been doing before Baby Bear interrupted them from their thoughts.

            Baby Bear, who was a clever little bear, knew that something, or someone, had to have eaten the porridge, and he knew it wasn’t he. Just then, Baby Bear noticed some mud on the kitchen floor that meandered all the way to the foot of the stairwell. He pusillanimously peeked up the stairwell and, sure enough, the mud went all the way up to his family’s bedchamber. Feeling rather brave and fearless from having defeated one the bravest mice in Noia at a game of matching last week, he decided to continue his investigation.

            Softly walking up the stairs so as not to allow the wooden planks creak, Baby Bear made it all the way upstairs without making a sound. Right away, he saw that Papa Bear and Mama Bear’s beds were in disarray. Baby Bear trembled and felt his heart sink into his stomach as if both were floating on a sea of soap.

            Papa Bear’s bed was un-tucked, something Papa Bear would never stand for. Mama Bear’s covers were hanging off the side of her bed, something that would surely make her gasp at the sheer horror of the situation! The mere idea of her beautiful duvet touching the floor would have made Mama Bear aloud.

            Without saying a word, Baby Bear went over to Papa Bear’s bed and neatly tucked the covers back under the headboard. He picked up the pillow and placed it right in the middle where Papa Bear liked it. Then, Baby Bear pulled Mama Bear’s duvet up off the floor, arranged it neatly, picked up all the pillows, as there were many, and placed them neatly in the configuration Mama Bear liked best.

            Right about the time Baby Bear thought his work was all done, he heard a rustling coming from the corner of the room. The impulse to run overcame him, but his feet stood firmly fixed as if they were deeply devoted to that very spot.

            Baby Bear looked up at the sunray that shone down upon his bed. Little dust bunnies were floating and bouncing into each other in the stream of light. It was winter and the light is especially active in winter. Then Baby Bear smelled that same sweet smell he had smelled in both Papa Bear and Mama Bear’s porridge bowls. A sense of heavy harmonies grew in his heart for the smell was sweeter than the shape of music. Even the air seemed eager to greet this new smell. The colors of the dust bunnies soothed Baby Bear like a tune. They were green, gold, and red, with flecks of yellow blowing between them.

            Baby Bear looked down upon his bed and saw a sweet little blonde girl, he knew it was a girl because Papa Bear had told him bedtime stories about little humans who sometimes ventured into Noia in search of something yummy to eat. Clearly, this little girl was one of them. Imagine… his very own little human! The marvelous things they might do when she wakes up, the exciting adventures they might have when they later go outside to play, and the thrill they’d experience when climbing trees and feasting on honey all the day, while gazing out over the hills of Noia.

            “Hello?” whispered Baby Bear, trying his very best not to startle the little girl. She did not move. “Hello, little human,” said Baby Bear, just a bit louder than before but still quiet enough so as not to frighten the little girl. Feeling himself growing tired and a little frustrated, not to mention silly for whispering in the middle of the day, Baby Bear shouted, “HELLO, HUMAN!”

            And with that, Goldilocks leapt to her feet, spinning herself back and forth trying to catch her bearings as to what exactly was going on. “Am I dreaming?” she asked the little bear.

            “I don’t think so,” replied Baby Bear, wondering if perchance she might still be asleep even though he knew that they were both most assuredly awake.

            “Quite the verbal genius,” thought Goldilocks, being a bit snarky after having been woken up so very rudely.

            “Well, if I’m not asleep, and you are really here, that means that I am the one who is trespassing and for this I apologize… but the door was open and the porridge smelled so good that I simply could not help myself. And then I felt sleepy, and as it was close to my nap time, I decided to rest my head before leaving you a thank you note.”

            Baby Bear listened intently. Everything the little girl was saying made perfect sense to him as she was saying it. “It’s perfectly fine,” replied Baby Bear, emulating his mother’s most reassuring of voices; it was the same tone Mama Bear used with him when he fell down or got a bee sting while trying to scoop out honey from beehives.

            “Would you like to go downstairs with me and meet Mama Bear and Papa Bear?” asked Baby Bear, eager to introduce his new playmate to his parents.

            Thinking that she had gotten herself into a bit of a pickle, Goldilocks smiled and agreed. “I’ll just run away once we get outside,” she thought, “this way they won’t end up eating me!”

            Goldilocks can sometimes be the wittiest critic for her mind immediately fixated on what she knew of bears: they eat little children! Summing up the courage to go and pretend that she wanted to meet Papa Bear and Mama Bear, Goldilocks slowly followed Baby Bear back down the stairs, but the moment they reached the kitchen, she rushed out the side door and ran and ran and ran until she came to a large fence on the outskirts of Noia.

            On the other side of the fence was a field she recognized as her own. But before escaping underneath, she glanced back over her shoulder and said with an air of disappointment:

Across, asunder, a divided place
I smiled, I rejoiced, and porridge I ate
But friends with me, you cannot be
Because Noia is filled with Medlar Trees

Medlar Trees, Cagnes (1908)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Private Collection

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