July 5, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (3 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

Over a wheat cereal and a glass of ruby grapefruit juice, the senator reflected on his strange dream that he had not yet realised was no dream at all.

Marion had parked herself before the dining room window, a patient, human eclipse of the morning sun. She asked the senator, “You’ve been sitting there for half an hour, now, sir. Would you like me to… clear anything away?”

The senator was still muddled in thought but replied, “Half an hour?”

His wife, who had been pretending to read the New York Times while peeking over the top of the newspaper at his faraway face, sniggered. “Oh yes you have, Mr. Senator.”

“Shucks, I’m really sorry Marion,” he apologised, grinning with mild embarrassment. “I guess I must still be a little tired after yesterday, although, truth be told, I feel quite rested.” After an almost meditative pause, he added, “Tell you what, come back in when I call you. I’d like to discuss something in private before I’m ready to abandon the breakfast table for a another day of boring work up on the Hill.”

“Of course, you just let me know if there’s anything you need, sir,” said Marion and she retreated to her sanctum, the kitchen.

“Honey, I’m can’t say sorry enough, I was so down last night, I just felt, like, at my wit’s end, you know how it goes,” the senator began. He suddenly banged the table a few times with violent rapidity, inducing an earthquake across the breakfast crockery landscape; some milk spilled onto the table, but no one cried over it.

“Today, it’s all change inside! I feel… invigorated!” he continued with his arms animated like a pair of high-tension power lines whipping around with newfound freedom. He was thankful to the Lord for all of the things that were. He thanked the Lord for the wings of insects, the hue of the sky and the songs of poets. He gave thanks for the children his wife would one day bear for him. He was thankful for being brought to a unique and special moment in his life. He was going to begin hiking into unknown territory, getting off that senatorial train once and for all. Yesterday was a day of selfish self-pity. Today was not.

His wife put down the newspaper as there was no longer any reason to hide behind it. “I know, something is definitely changed in you today,” his wife replied, blinking softly.

The senator composed himself, sitting upright yet relaxed. He asked his wife, “Do you know why I went into politics?”

“Now that’s a tough one. I don’t believe you’ve ever spelt out your reasons. I would think the reason would be that you wanted to change things, but I can see that you have a little more to tell me than that,” she replied. She leaned forward, resting her head on one arm and waited for his words with famished eyes. It had been a long time since the senator had spoken to her with such passion and verve.

“Yes, I have more to tell you,” the senator explained, stretching his arms out wide with a smile to demonstrate something epic. He had to tell his wife a new story that, to him, was a crumpled, dusty, old one.

“I never really told you much about my mother. Mom used to be an important woman running errands as an accountant for a big firm. But she really had enough of it in the end. It gets to you after a while, doing the same thing, day after day. You get surrounded by people who have this self-inflated concept of importance and you all believe the same common good. What’s good for the company is good for you and good for the country, apparently. And no one talked, of course, about what was good for mankind because that just wasn’t interesting enough to be part of a corporate credo. Heck, no one would have believed in a company that said it believed in mankind anyway. Or God.

“Anyway, I’m rambling. As she had no real power to change anything, she tore up her five-figure salary and decided to spend more time in church. She canned her career completely. She threw it all away because, to her, it had become worthless. Career wasn’t a treasure to be prized… it was the millstone around her neck. She wanted to do good things. She wanted to change the world for the better, in bite-sized chunks if she had to.

“And you know what? Our family was happier. There was a darn sight more empty space under the tree at Christmas time, but it didn’t matter one bit. She was so positive. She started to love herself more than she had for a long time. When it’s not about ego, but simply about liking what you see in the mirror in the morning, that kind of love spreads out across us all. It was a great, humbling lesson to me – it’s all about the love you have in your cupboard. Wow, you wouldn’t have guessed that my Mom and Pop used to have such screaming matches… but devoting herself to the happy man upstairs changed not just her life but our whole family.”

The sparkle in his eyes began to melt and tears slowly dripped from his face. His wife rose, to hold and comfort him, but the senator motioned for her to sit down.

“And so… I still find it difficult not to shed a tear or two when I talk about her death in Chad.”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2254

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