Saturday, January 27, 2018

Parables

Once there was a Sherpa.

Now, this Sherpa loved his job. He loved the mountains, loved meeting new people. Some of his peers liked to make fun of the strangers that were slowly destroying the beautiful mountains. Not this Sherpa, though. The world would turn as it turned, he said. Let me get the most out of it.

There was a particular mountain guide that he liked and worked with a lot. That guide would always ask the most of the Sherpa, and though not young, the Sherpa loved the constant challenge. "Someday I'll get you a trip to the United States," the guide promised.

Year after year, season after season, they worked together. Finally, as one season started, the Sherpa, older and wiser, asked his mountain guide friend if he could go to America that year.

"Sure," the guide said, but he said it in a way that made the Sherpa suspicious. Working on the mountain was difficult work, and the Sherpa's body was breaking down. The guide continued to ask more of him, even though the Sherpa said he was unable to continue; his health was suffering, and so was the quality of his work.

"Can you show me a ticket by the middle of the season?" the Sherpa asked.

"Yes, of course, as long as you continue to do good work." That was  new statement; the requirement to do good work was understood, but somehow saying it aloud sounded strange. Of course I'll do good work, the Sherpa thought.

But he didn't.

His back and shoulders hurt, and the loads he was asked to carry were more than any other Sherpa. And the more he told the guide that he needed another Sherpa, the more work the guide gave him.

Finally, one day, the Sherpa went up the mountain to the base camp carrying the heaviest load he'd ever carried. It was near the end of the season, but the guide had yet to produce a ticket to America. In fact, he had openly criticized the Sherpa's work to others; not to the Sherpa himself, though. Always to others.

The Sherpa, exhausted, continued to try and impress his guide, worked to keep the customers happy, but he no longer enjoyed looking at the mountains he'd loved so much. Then, in a particularly harsh storm as he ferried things up to Camp 1, the Sherpa fell over. Other Sherpas came to his aid, too late to help. Three men carried the impossible load down the mountain, two the Sherpa. And the guide was sad, though if his sadness was for the Sherpa or the money he would have to spend to replace him, nobody knew.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

On Old Friends' Passing

An old friend died on January 19, 2018. It seems that, increasingly, that's what I write about. The passage of time guarantees that will become more persistent, and I hate to think that I've reached an age when I could just... die.

Mortality sucks like that.

Her name was - is - Andrea. Yes: is. We shouldn't think of such things in the past tense. She still is a presence. To her friends, mostly to her family. Present tense, then: she is Andrea. We met in college, and she married one of my best friends; as a result, he and I drifted apart, which often happens. I probably was an ass, because I have strong asshole tendencies. She was a great wife, a supportive partner and mother to their children.

Had it not been for Facebook, I wouldn't have known her as we grew older. Honestly, for all the reasons in the world to hate that site, for all the evil it can help spread, it keeps old friends close, helps us maintain those threads, even until the end of one particular thread.

So rest in peace, old friend. I'm glad I knew you, and while I hate that I have to live only with the memories of you now, I'm glad to have those memories to live with.