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November 2019 Rapid River Magazine

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SHORT FICTION While Rome

SHORT FICTION While Rome burns — The bat and his enemies BY PETER LOEWER • ASHEVILLE With this issue, our old scribe, Peter Loewer, returns to write about current WNC happenings, or a very good — or occasionally a very bad movie — perhaps some profound music, and sometimes a fable that reflects today’s realities. A small Brown Bat, from over near Bat Cave (his home was on Bluerock Mountain, the largest known granite fissure cave in North America), accidentally fell to the ground while flying over a family gathering of Stoats. Those Stoats were having a high old time just drinking and Bar-B-Cuing on the mountainside. One very crafty Stoat was standing to one side and talking to another Stoat. Both Stoats were rambling on and on about the amount of rain that fell, and how bad the weather had become, and how many folks would cotton to the opening of a new Wal-Mart, anywhere such a store would open. Then the first Stoat felt something at his feet, and looking down saw the Bat. Not wishing to share this delicacy, he told his friend that somebody was calling and the other Stoat rambled off, leaving him alone with the Bat, which he promptly picked off the ground and prepared to eat. But the Bat didn’t want to be Stoat food so immediately, though a rush of tears, begged for his freedom. The Stoat listened to the Bat, then said that just on general principles, he couldn’t let any Bat go free. After all, he—and all the members According to a well-known expression, Rome’s emperor at the time, the decadent and unpopular Nero, “fiddled while Rome burned.” of his clan—were sworn enemies of every bird that ever flew. Then, remembering some recent chickens that he recently devoured, told the Bat that Stoats even ate birds that didn’t fly and only walked. “But,” said the Bat, “I’m not a bird at all. Look at me, and you’ll see that I’m a Mouse who just invented a pair of artificial wings.” With that, the Bat quickly folded up his wings and, covering his prominent fangs with his upper lip, smiled up at the Stoat. “So you are,” said the Stoat. “Now that I look closely at you, I can see you’re a rodent.” And he let the Bat go free. Sometime later, the Bat was lollygagging around the night sky and dove to catch a Miller Moth. But he missed the Moth and before he could head back to the sky, was caught again, this time by a tipsy Ferret who was one of a bunch of Ferrets having a Catfish Fry over at the Mayor’s house. 22 |RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | VOL. 23, NO. 3 NOVEMBER 2019 As before, the Bat begged for his life. Said the Ferret, “I never let a Mouse go, because all of us members of the Ferret Clan hate mice.” “But I’m not a Mouse,” said the Bat, “I’m a Bird,” and he flapped his wings. “Why, so you are,” said the Ferret, and he, too, let the Bat escape. Now the Bat, feeling just a bit cocksure about his seeming ability to fend off his enemies, forgot to watch where he was flying and completely losing track of his altitude, flew directly into the feathered hat of a very large woman who was attending an outdoor evening meeting of the local Master Gardeners. “Eeeeeeeek,” cried the woman and, tearing off her hat, she threw it—and the Bat—into a large punchbowl on the table beside her. The plunge into the cold punch snapped the Bat back to reality, and before the woman could marshal forces, he flew as fast and as high as he could into the evening sky. But this time, due to the excitement and the effects of swallowing a dose of punch, the Bat forgot to pay attention and wound up in the clutches of an Old Owl. “I just love Bats,” said the Old Owl. “But I’m not a Bat—I’m a Mouse!” “I just love Mice,” said the Old Owl and finished his evening meal. Moral: Remember, today, always look both ways to see how the wind is blowing before you commit yourself to anything.

‘Cover’ continued from page 15 from for your Spirit Animal paintings? Do storytelling and narrative play into them? AA: In the last two years, I have been working on expanding my body of work to include many different kinds of animals. I find my inspiration everywhere. Some of my customers have provided models, and occasionally I’ll go out to local farms to take pictures. “Little Charmer,” by Angela Alexander I painted many of my horses during a particularly challenging time in my life. They represented freedom, strength, and courage to me. On the other hand, I tried to capture more of a sense of playfulness and mischief in my bear paintings. Honestly, the process for all my paintings comes down to finding a way to express the true spirit of the animals I paint. RRM: What are your hopes and plans for the future of your work? AA: Well, right now, with the holidays fast approaching, I am doubling down on my commission list. So that will likely be the focus of my immediate future, but beyond that, it’s hard to say. I’d love to expand my reach by displaying my work in new cities. On the creative side of things, I never know what is around the corner. My evolution as an artist has been very organic. I try to respond to challenge and opportunity as it arises with an open mind and heart. So far, this has served me well, and I feel very blessed with where this journey has taken me. I hope to continue in the same way, and I look forward to seeing where I end up. Angela Alexander www.angelaalexanderart.com info@angelaalexanderart.com Follow her on Facebook • (828) 273.4494 NorthLight Studios • 357 Depot St WHEN YOU GO CONTINUED ‘Walz’ continued from page 21 has created an anomaly, a phenomenon that identifies and quantifies itself as separate from all else, creating imbalance, felt as a kind of anxiety that no other creature experiences. This sense of separate self, or ego, builds and builds on itself, erroneously hoping to manage the anxiety with more of itself, but this is a tactic that simply does not work. Just more imbalance is created, in individual humans, human collectives, and in the world inhabited and dominated by humans. Yet within us is the way back to balance. The mind must empty itself of established ideas and emotional experience which create this false sense of self. We must learn to make ourselves available for new insight and perspective while realizing the truth of the ancient teachings that tell us we ARE Nature, already complete, just as is all of Nature. We must remember the ancient ways of emptying the mind, of entering deeply into fertile silence, remembering that only when the mind is relatively free from running on its default mode of holding onto and seeking itself in things can it realize itself in its original potential. We must rediscover that only when, even for a moment, the mind is empty of running its story of filling cups and rushing trains through time can it realize its fullness as this and every moment arising in consciousness, the Universe manifesting and realizing itself, a great miracle and wonder happening as a human life. Then we can begin to reorganize our lives, both individually and collectively, not as cups or trains that we fill, but rather, simply as witness and participant in Creation, where we and every moment materialize from the field of infinite potential that is the Universe, where our cups empty and fill magically with the contents of the moment, with what is needed to experience and build our lives based in the natural harmony of Nature. I have often thought that this is the real meaning of the Biblical phrases that direct us to live our lives “at play in the fields of the Lord” and to be “like the little children” who show up in the moments of their lives empty of the baggage of a developed ego-self, to experience life “unfolding from emptiness.” Human civilization will not collapse for letting go of the ego-myth that more is better; it will find its way back to harmony, no longer a train rushing to a burned out bridge somewhere up ahead, but rather a magical caravan that fully experiences, explores, treasures and creates the terrain of Life as it appears, fullness arising from emptiness. Our cups will become cornucopias that magically empty and refill moment to moment while we are full in the magic of emptiness. And gratitude for the miracle that is Life can travel with us as our constant companion. Bill Walz has taught meditation and mindfulness in university and public forums and is a private-practice meditation teacher and guide for individuals in mindfulness, personal growth and consciousness. Information on classes, talks, personal growth and healing instruction, or phone consultations at (828)258-3241, e-mail at healing@ billwalz.com Learn more, see past columns, video and audio programs at www.billwalz.com VOL. 23, NO. 3 — NOVEMBER 2019 | RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | 23