Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Leap of Faith

I have not been around this blog for some time, partly due to a recent illness that has drained me of much of my strength. I have been unable to run or go walking as I am in the habit of doing. The loss of both of those things in turn brings on a state of depression. Today I am feeling better and today life no longer looks all black. I really should have been aware that this was the case because things have still been moving in my world of art, though obviously very slowly.

The story I wish to share with you speaks about just matters, and I hope that the painting above adds to that. I explain the thoughts behind it on my other blog.

The Mokoko tribe lived on the wrong side of the island of two faces. The two sides, separated by a great cliff, were like night and day. The good side was watered by rivers and was filled with trees, flowers, birds and easy and abundant food, while on the wrong side there was hardly any water or plants, and wild beasts crowded together. The Mokoko had the misfortune of having always lived there, with no way to cross to the other side. Their life was hard and difficult: they hardly had food and drink for everyone and they lived in permanent terror of the beasts, who would regularly come and eat some tribe member.
Legend told that some of their ancestors had been able to cross with just the help of a small pole, but for many years not a single tree had grown that would be strong enough to make such a pole, so few Mokoko believed this was possible, and they had become accustomed and resigned to their difficult, resigned life, suffering hunger and dreaming of not ending up as some peckish beast's dinner.
But nature had it that, precisely along the edge of the cliff separating the two sides of the island, a skinny but strong tree grew, with which they could build two poles. The feeling of anticipation was enormous and there was no doubt among the tribe as to whom they would choose to use the poles: the great chief and the witch doctor.
But when the two of them were given their opportunity to make the jump, they felt so afraid that they didn't dared to: they thought that the pole could break, or it would not be long enough, or that something would go wrong during the jump ... and they put so much energy into these thoughts that the resulting fear caused them to give in. And when they saw that this could lead them to being teased and taunted, they decided to invent some old stories and legends about failed jumps to the other side. And they told so many of these tales and they spread so much that there was no Mokoko who did not know how reckless and foolish you would have to be to even attempt the jump. And there lay the poles, available to anyone wanting to use them, but abandoned by all, because taking up one of these poles had become, by dint of repetition, the most unbecoming thing a Mokoko could do. It was a betrayal of the values of suffering and resistance, which so distinguished the tribe.
But into that tribe were born Naru and Ariki, a pair of young hearts truly wanting a different life and, encouraged by the strength of their love, one day decided to take up the poles. Nobody stopped them, but everyone did try to discourage them, trying to convincing them of the dangers of jumping, using a thousand explanations.
-"And what if what they say is true?" wondered the young Naru.
-"Don’t' worry. Why do the talk so much about a leap they've never done? I too am a bit scared, but it doesn't look so difficult," replied Ariki, ever determined.
-"But if it goes wrong, it would be a terrible end," continued Naru, undecided.
-"Perhaps the jump will go badly, and perhaps not. But staying forever on this side of the island surely won't work out well either. Do you know of anyone whose death did not come from being either eaten by the wild beasts or from famine? That too is a terrible end, although it still seems far away to us."
-"You're right, Ariki. And if we wait much longer we won't have the strength to make the leap ... Let's do it tomorrow."
And on the next day, Naru and Ariki jumped to the good side of the island. When taking up the poles, taking their run up, while feeling their desire, the fear hardly allowed them to breathe. And while flying through the air, helpless and without support, they felt that something surely must have gone wrong and certain death awaited them. But when they landed on the other side of the island and happily hugged each other, they thought the jump really hadn't been so bad after all.
And as they ran away to discover their new life, behind them they could hear, like a whispering choir:
-"It was just luck."
-"Well… maybe tomorrow."
-"What a terrible jump! Had it not been for the pole ..."
And Naru and Ariki understood why so few people took the leap: because on the bad side of the island you only ever heard the resigned voices of people without dreams, people filled with fear and despair, people who would never jump ...
Life is indeed not all one thing or the other it is full of alternatives.
This blog is linked to my other. Life Does Not Always Turn in Black and White


  1. Good Morning Ralph! You are one great story teller, my friend, and this is a great story to add to my collection! Now I am after the explanation of your painting so I will dash off to your other blog, although I really think that authors and artists should never explain their work. In definition it becomes limited and loses some of its magic. I like it. As is.

  2. Great story! Sorry to hear you've been sick, but great to see you back and ready to tell us a tale. Thanks!

  3. I too am sorry to hear you've been so ill, Ralph. The story is wonderful but the painting? it is fabulous! I love the geometry of the piece.

  4. Good story Ralph. A leap of faith - good title. How many are frozen in fear to even think of taking a risk. Wonderful painting!