Posted by: normanlgreen | July 14, 2014

Electric Hair & Keg Crush

Dream:  5:34 am

 

I find a hand-colored a flier for a fund raising event. There is a to be a party in a tavern in Ferndale. For a ten dollar cover charge, attendees will have pre-paid for two drinks. I decided to invite my wife. I call her and give her the address.

She meets me at the door. The bar faces north and extends a single storefront’s width, with windows along the north facing street side. Just inside the door, at a table in the northwest corner, one table has been setup to collect the entry fee. The back room of the bar has been designated for the private party. We can see a few faces through the open door frame. I offer to take care of the cover charge while Sherwin goes back to look for people that we know. Attendance looks sparse, so I have my doubts.

At the collection table sits the beneficiary of the fund raiser. He looks happy with his little cash box. I step up and pull loose bills and papers from my pants pocket. He spots a pair of third party checks and decides these are how he would prefer to be paid. Since one has been made out to “Troop 19 BSA”, I have to scratch through the payee line and scribble in his name. He begins spelling it but gets distracted.

A lady, perhaps early 60s, perhaps younger but with the look of one used to finding herself in saloons, offers her opinion on how his name should be spelled: “that’s ie, not ei.” I look at my black handwriting which overfills the space allotted and see that two of his four names have an ei in them. I ask “In which case, there are two of them?” She looks at me with disgust. “I’m only the neighbor, ya know.” The check has been shifted from one of my pockets to another for years, and though I have paid my own cash to cover it, the thought of it passing through the banks and winding up on the statement of the account holder makes me nervous. I fold the check in half then tear it lengthwise. “Better I give you cash.”

I pass through the shallow front half of the bar, looking for Sherwin in the back room. I pass Sherman Alexie who is seated at the bar. While the front room is lit by the light from the windows to north and west, the back room has unwelcoming blue fluorescents. Every face looks unhealthy in this light. Less than twenty people stand about the eight foot deep room. Sherwin waits at the bar built parallel to the back wall. I look into a trough of ice behind the bar man. I spot a can of Dr. Pepper and a couple tins of beer – thoroughly picked-over. Sherwin wants me to get a proper drink for my money, but I ask the bartender for a tonic water. Sherwin waits for the drinks while I find a seat in a booth.

As this is a party, the people seated on one bench are not surprised when I slide across the bench opposite to them. I wait in the corner of the seat, wanting my wife to hurry up, hoping that no one will expect me to join a conversation. The walls and the ceiling have disappeared. We are seated beneath the blue sky of a late afternoon. The couple across from me do not look in my direction but sip their drinks, communicating with each other with gestures and rare, quiet murmers. Another couple traps me on the bench as they take the outside end. These two look to be in their late teen years, she with her hair dyed electric pink with sparkling LED shimmering in patterns, he in his FFA jacket and sullen attitude.

She teases him: “Now I know one good memory you have from school. Remember the day of the test? The test? The test?” her voice raises in pitch and volume as she asks the two word question over and over, climbing toward what is supposed to imitate an orgasmic peak. The boy turns to me and asks: “Do you know what she is talking about?” I answer: “I’m a reasonable man, so I could make a reasonable guess.” He turns back to the girl. “You’re always embarrassing me.” He pushes her out of her seat, using his hip. They walk away to the west, her pink hair shimmering.

Sherwin takes a seat with the people across from me. She sets two semi-transparent plastic cups on the table before her. Neither look to be tonic water. Both are half empty, and neither has ice.

The building across the alley supports two wooden fire escapes built onto its back side. The flights zig zag in mirror image to each other, with a landing at each floor and one halfway between floors. Singing waiters start the descent from the third flood. They move in synchronization and wear marching band uniforms- rental costumes for a cheap production of the Music Man. I tell Sherwin, “I should get some striped pants like those.” She answers: “ I’ll lend you these.” She lifts her leg into sight above the table, but her pants are earthtone stripes, not the red and ivory of descending performers. I see, walking down the alley, another girl with an electric hair-do, fire engine red. I realize there is a trend for battery operated hair.

On the next morning, we find ourselves in a room on the second story of a large country house from the 1870s. The western half of the floor is a single room. Morning light pours into the window in the southwest corner. Sherwin works on a project near that window. Further along the west wall, another bond haired woman sits at a desk. She may be playing a computer game. I realize that it is Sally Struthers. (Sorry, but that is who it is.) I sing the opening bars from the theme song of the TV show “The Jeffersons”. (Strange that I should sing the theme not from her series, but from a spin off.)

I ask: “Is that what you have been doing? Moving on up? To the East side? To a deluxe apartment in the sky?” She answers with a killing look. I crawl along the floor and notice that the flooring material does not extend all the way to the wall. This leaves a gap in which stand the left hand legs of her unlevel desk. Splintered wood chunks of the chipped linoleum have collected in the space close to the wall.

Ms. Struthers calls Sherwin to her desk to show a creature that she has won in her game. I anticipate some picture on the screen. Instead, her prize has manifested into the material world. I lean over to look into a little box where an environment has been set-up for a fuzzy black cross between a kitten and a gremlin. Three and a half inches long, two and a half high, he walks about his tiny town on all four feet. He takes careful steps, as he is new born and learning to navigate. On the side of the box closest to Sherwin and I, a knothole provides a wee window for him. He sticks his head out, barely clearing his tall pointy ears. He looks at me with startled eyes and struggles to pull his head back in. I wince at the thought of him bonking his little head.

A boy enters the room from the east side of the house. He carries an aluminum keg on his shoulder. A man follows him. The man stops in the center of the room and demands to see the creature. Ms. Struthers commands the boy to “Crush Him!” The boy tosses the keg onto the man who is flattened onto the floor, The crushed man melts like wax and the keg shrinks and is replaced by an electric clothes iron. In less time than it takes to describe, the man has been evaporated. The boy walks to the now miniaturized keg and picks it up like a soda can. He balances it on his shoulder and it resumes its former size.

We hear voices from outside. Ms Struthers commands the boy, “Be ready for them.” He asks, “Is that the new rule? Crush all strangers?” She answers, “Yes. Any and all strangers.” I follow the boy out onto a veranda that runs the width of the house. A man and a woman stand on the walkway that leads to the door. I brace myself to watch them die. I wonder if we should not remove the welcome mat.

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Posted by: normanlgreen | May 27, 2013

Dream, May 26, 2013 Fast Food Prison & Cabaret

Home, 4:22am

Walking through a neighborhood of little houses, like those to the southeast of Baylor campus. It feels like a college town. Mary’s oldest grandson and I are to carry some papers, keeping them safe while we find him some dinner.

On our right, four young women sit on the lawn of their house. Their yard is separated from the one to the west by an over-grown privet hedge. They practice music on wind instruments. I pause to talk with them, the young man impatient but silent. I notice that all of the instruments are electronic variations on familiar horns. They are made of metal and silver-colored plastic, so they feel very light in the hand. I lift the electronic variation on the soprano sax. The keys are light to the touch and arranged in two parallel rows. I ask the women if these are still referred to as EVI, Electronic Valve Instruments. They look at me unsure and without answering.

I say: “I have a friend who had an early EVI trumpet, but she always tampered with the sound, rather than having it sound like a traditional trumpet.”

The flautist answers that they only use them for practice. I ask if that does not effect their touch when they return to their traditional instruments. I explain that I play guitar and prefer heavy gauge strings – I hold up a circle of thumb to forefinger to suggest an outrageous diameter – so when I bend notes on other peoples’ guitars, the intonation goes off wildly.

“Stings that thick?” asks the saxophonist.

“Hyperbole – exaggeration with the intention of humor.”

“You’ve said that before.”

“Have I been here before?”

She and the flautist exchange smiling glances. I feel a slight remembrance and then get embarrassed, thinking that I have been bothering these girls. When was I here before?

The young man and I leave, taking the papers we guard.

We join a line to enter a stadium-sized fast food restaurant. We move through the queue, approaching the order windows from the west. The sun is strong on the faces in the thick crowd. We squint in the light and sweat in the heat.

When at last it is our turn to order, the grandson does not know what he wants. I feel frustrated, knowing that he had so much time to decide and that we had come here by his choice. He wants some kind of breakfast, which they serve all day, but will not speak. He shifts away from the window, leaving me there. I kill time by ordering two large cheeseburgers and two large orders of fries – thinking that someone will want them.  The shy boy has disappeared, so I order toast. The woman behind the window tells me that I must order toast as part of a meal. She points to a little card taped to the glass. I tell her that I will have the oatmeal breakfast.

“Will that be the thirty-five pound sack or the fifty pounder?”

I do not want so much so cancel the order. I move into the stadium seating area, from which there is no escape. The seats face toward an oily brown river, the stadium drops off at the river’s edge where a playing field should be. I remember having been trapped here before, and that I had to be forceful to escape the first time.

I move down the steps of the grandstand. I open a little iron gate and lower some folding steps to get to the next lower level, unoccupied by the compliant customers munching on their fast food within their designated area. Some kids tell me not to go down, but I answer that I have special permission. A woman, representative of the stadium, follows me down the steps, telling me to go no further. A cameraman appears behind her. He is my accomplice in the escape. He tells her with confidence that we have a shooting permit.

I step out onto a rust-colored steel platform that juts out over the river, while the cameraman shines-on the official. I walk to the far edge and look down into the slow and dirty water. On the surface, rainbow swirls of oil show the movement. I want to drop in, but my feet cling to the steel like magnets. I dangle for a few moments, head down, before dropping ten feet into the water. I find it is less than four feet deep, so stand up and wade to the shore, clear of the prison restaurant.

I join a group of men to make a pilgrimage to a little old theatre. The building still has the feel of a 20s cabaret: a fan of three rounded steps leading to the entrance, a cut-glass ticket booth, black and gray paint, but the place has been remodeled as an apartment house.

No one is at home, so we let ourselves in through the glass doors and step into the lobby. To our left, the swinging doors to the auditorium stand locked, some of us try and fail to see through the black glass. One of the men talks about the night he saw Klaus Nomi perform here. All of us are in awe that this is the place were Nomi created his cabaret. We move further into the building to the apartments.

In the back right corner, a door opens into a one-room apartment. An iron-framed bed fills most of the space, while a bureau-vanity stands at its foot. On the bedspread, clothes sit neatly folded. Two small, square doilies have been laid out near the edge of the bed. One of the men sprinkles a few drops of urine onto each. Shocked laughter from the rest of us as he explains: “No man should own a doily.”

I remember that I have been to the yard, to the stadium, and to the cabaret, in that order, and that it has happened in the near past.

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 20, 2013

Dream, May 20, 2013 The Signpost Tree

Dream, home, 5:30am

Hippos dying. They are a food source, allowed to die and then butchered. But if a certain breed of bird attacks them while they die in the mud, the hippos become infected with a poisoning disease. They actually become a different creature with a different name. All those who eat of the meat die in terrible pain. I dive into their muddy hole as a pair of them are set upon by the parasitic birds, almost get crushed as one hippo swings her head about to see me. I give up and pull myself backwards out of the muck.

Nearby, on the banks of a wide river stands The Signpost Tree. It is the center of navigation for all of the animals, including man. The tree branches are long, strong and straight. By climbing the trunk, which is the tallest on the continent, one can see to one’s destination and walk out on the branch leading in that direction. In this way, species that could not normally have crossed the river have spread through the land. The bark of the tree is smooth, hard and a chalky green color. From my place, a thousand feet in the sky, I see strong branches, impossibly long, some extending for miles, many with traffic of monkeys and wildcats and people. I walk out on a branch that leads across the raging river. My goal is to cross the water and travel down to the sea by following the west bank.

The hazy morning sky lets me see for miles, but without clear detail. I know the sea is ahead, within walking distance. On the far side of the river, the land has been developed by humans. Stepping off the half-mile long branch, I join a footpath which becomes a broken paved walkway that parallels the river. The drop becomes steeper, and I let myself fall the big leaps between levels of concrete. I bounce on youthful, flexible knees. I think that my one-legged brother must be losing ground behind me, but that I can turn around and climb back to him.

When I reach the bottom, I find an old concrete bathhouse, its calcified paint flaking onto the ground. On reaching the sea-shore I turn and trot back up the path. Not sure of what my brother looks like, I peer into the faces of people headed down the path I climb. I do not spot my brother, but find a cinder block pump house at the half-way point between the sea and the end of the branch of The Signpost Tree. I climb a pipe ladder onto the roof and drop down through a sheet metal trap door.

Inside, it is dark until an old man uncovers a window on the east side, which faces the river. I ask him if he has seen my brother. He points to a burlap sack on the floor. I pull back one end and see a small body of a greasy haired boy, curled in a puddle of oily liquid. It barely breathes.

The old man tells me: “I’ve seen this before. They get The Thirst, and nothing can stop them from drinking the first thing they find. Looks like he found half a can of coconut milk in the trash – they get tossed in and they ferment. He may come out of it.”  He does not sound too reassuring, nor does he want to.

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 19, 2013

Dream, May 13, 2013 Escape from University

Dream, home, 3:20am

To run an errand, I have crossed a university campus. Now it is dark night and I am anxious to return. In a parking lot beside a dormitory, two large men talk. One departs as I approach. I don’t plan to engage in conversation, but the remaining man insists on talking with me. He is friendly acting, with a practiced smile. He convinces me to ride in his van across the valley of the campus. He slides across to his place behind the wheel, having entered from the passenger side. He leans toward my open door as I approach. An arm and fist strike out from the back seat, clocking the driver on the jaw. I realize the punch was meant for me.

I run into the lit doorway of the dormitory. The hall is a line of small bedrooms. Kids hang out in the hall, music playing from some of the open doors. I bolt for the far end of the building. There I expect another door, but end up in a mop closet. I back up a couple of rooms and find the exit to the front of the building. I leave through this one, cross an open space and enter another university building. Though the entrance is at ground level, I find this one is built into the side of the hill, so I am too many stories above the ground when I hope to exit. Renovators have installed a vinyl shoot to one of the windows. They throw the waste from the demolition process down this blue plastic chute and into waiting dumpsters. To keep the tube from sealing up, they have treated the inside with graphite powder – like that in a car’s air bag. Makes it easier to deploy. A man convinces me to dive down the chute. When I reach the bottom, photographers take my picture, as a strange twisted hair-do has formed on my head like the top of a soft ice cream cone.

Variations on the college campus set in a valley, and the concept of having to cross the strip of land, has recurred at least four times in as many years.

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 19, 2013

Dream, May 19, 2013 Crossing the River of Centuries

Dream, home, 4:48am

I belong to a party of 17th Century Europeans sent to colonize the Americas. We have been sent up a river to displace some of the native population. We have been told to expect “savages” living on a long, thin island in the middle of a slow river.

We stand on a sandy clearing on the south bank and look across to the island. Green shrubs grow right to the edge of the far shore. We see no signs of the inhabitants. A man in a tall, wide-brimmed hat points across to a short segment on which we can gain a foothold. He has a square, white collar that covers most of the shoulders of his blue jacket and seems over dressed for adventuring.

Men women and children climb aboard flat boats and canoes for the crossing. I get into a boat. The current shifts the flat stern of my craft toward my destination. I struggle with a paddle to right the boat, then follow our quiet fleet across to the island.

One the shore, it is my job to unload plastic bottles of water and stash them along the bank. The inhabitants have tread a path along the shore and this is where, five feet apart, I lay the bottles on their sides. We have not seen the “savages”, but I hear voices speaking in a language I cannot recognize. Behind me, at the river’s edge, two young boys from our raiding party discuss marbles. I hush them with a gesture. They pout, but stop talking.

We move inland to discover a town from the 20th Century. Cars dating from the middle 50s through the early 60s stand at the curbs, but none of the natives are to be seen. We judge that they have gathered in a large community hall, knowing that they are being invaded by forces stronger than themselves. Someone in our group has organized our children to form a line to call on the kids within the meeting hall. While they offer this distraction, the adults circle around the back of the building. On a signal from our leader in the tall hat, a large space ship fires a blast of energy that seals the front entrance to the building, I – now no long “myself”, but a young woman of the raiding party – look through one of the open windows to see the “savages” sitting at long tables, wearing 20th Century clothing. They sit with quiet dignity and patience, waiting for our attack. When they speak it is with soft voices. I turn to my “father”, the leader of the Europeans, and tell him that I refuse to join in on the attack.

I ask, “Now that you have seen them, do you still feel superior?”

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 14, 2013

Dream, May 13, 2013 Escape from University

Dream, home, 3:20am

To run an errand, I have crossed a university campus. Now it is dark night and I am anxious to return. In a parking lot beside a dormitory, two large men talk. One departs as I approach. I don’t plan to engage in conversation, but the remaining man insists on talking with me. He is friendly acting, with a practiced smile. He convinces me to ride in his van across the valley of the campus. He slides across to his place behind the wheel, having entered from the passenger side. He leans toward my open door as I approach. An arm and fist strike out from the back seat, clocking the driver on the jaw. I realize the punch was meant for me.

I run into the lit doorway of the dormitory. The hall is a line of small bedrooms. Kids hang out in the hall, music playing from some of the open doors. I bolt for the far end of the building. There I expect another door, but end up in a mop closet. I back up a couple of rooms and find the exit to the front of the building. I leave through this one, cross an open space and enter another university building. Though the entrance is at ground level, I find this one is built into the side of the hill, so I am too many stories above the ground when I hope to exit. Renovators have installed a vinyl shoot to one of the windows. They throw the waste from the demolition process down this blue plastic chute and into waiting dumpsters. To keep the tube from sealing up, they have treated the inside with graphite powder – like that in a car’s air bag. Makes it easier to deploy. A man convinces me to dive down the chute. When I reach the bottom, photographers take my picture, as a strange twisted hair-do has formed on my head like the top of a soft ice cream cone.

Variations on the college campus set in a valley, and the concept of having to cross the strip of land, has recurred at least four times in as many years.

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 11, 2013

Dream, May 11, 2013 A League of Her Own

Dream, home, 5:10am

A baseball league for women in their 90s. A summer baseball diamond on a white dry day.

I have been asked by an American poet to help umpire the game. We meet the teams. I pin a white ribbon with chrysanthemum shaped badge to a tiny woman who wears recently curled hair. She is confused by my presence, but taken with the ribbon.

As the game commences, the poet and I stand behind second base, out of line with the pitcher’s mound. White hair on women as they step up to the plate to take their swings. The infield is incomplete, so when a batter hits a pop-up over pitcher, I instinctively step forward, catch the ball and tag second base. Since I am not a player, we let the woman stay at first base. I remind myself to stay out of the game.

The second batter has the curly hair of the woman on whom I pinned the ribbon, but she is too far from me to focus on her face. She misses the first pitch, swinging seconds after the ball crosses home plate. On the second pitch, she connects. The ball is driven past the pitcher at knee level, but as there is still no second baseman, the ball bounces into the outfield. It looks like our friend has hit an in field home run. Everyone cheers for her to run. By the time she rounds second, she is slowing. She tags third base then doubles back on herself and walks to second. Someone behind me has retrieved the ball but thrown it wildly: it rolls past the backstop and into the crowd who stand and cheer for the batter.

The poet and I trot up to where the runner mills about second base. Her face shows that dementia has removed all understanding of where she is and what she is to do. She looks at me in fear. I point to the ribbon pinned to her shirt and ask if she remembers my giving it to her. Her face softens into a smile. The poet and I pick her up and carry her to home plate, since she has already tagged third base. I realize how tiny she is, four feet tall and nearly weightless.

Posted by: normanlgreen | May 4, 2013

Dream, May 4, 2013

Dream, home, 8:15 am

One set of stairs to go down to the meeting room of the coffee-house. A reading and discussion. Though it is on the lower floor, the room has windows on three sides, as the building sits on the slope of hill dropping to the salt water bay. I have a cup of ginger tea and sit in a corner booth while different readers stand to deliver their piece. We see part of a film about a Spanish bishop in purple robe, black, wide-brimmed hat with a purple hat band. I recognize some of the scenery and ask if this had been shot in Vancouver. Out the window, I see the same street, so get my confirmation.

A waitress comes by to take more orders. I realize that I have yet to pay for the first cup, so carry it to the winding staircase. There I find the down stairs have a set of upward stairs wrapped on the inside of their curve. I walk up a ramp. The ceiling gets closer. A set of four steps are so close to the ceiling that I must tuck my mug of tea into the rise of the lowest step, so I can crawl up like an infant. There is a small child just leaving through the top of this tight squeeze. A voice behind me tells me that this is the children’s way out. I turn and see a woman look disapproving to my abandoned tea-cup. I squeeze out past the top step.

Upstairs looks more like a hotel restaurant than a coffee-house. I wander through, but never find the cashier. I end up in a school room where I am to encourage kids to write. Perhaps I have competed the lecture as we all get up and leave for the halls. I recognize the school as a dream variation on Westboro Elementary near Edmonton. It must be late in the school year, as the ground in green and clear of snow. A bearded man, the husband of one of my wife’s work friends, walks home with me. He talks only enough to keep the conversation moving. I prattle.

We arrive at my Bellingham home and I lead him to the basement. The phone rings. It is my father on the line. He tells me that on his last visit, he only took the first sheet of a two page story I wanted him to read. I flash on a visual of some pages fallen in back of the couch. I tell him that I will send him a copy, that I believe I know where to find it. I reach down and pull out three hand written pages and place them on the couch. My guest picks one up. It is covered with my sloppy handwriting. I find the page my father had needed, so return my attention to the conversation. The man has noticed that the heading claims that the page was writing in fifteen minutes. I confirm that it is likely. He shows me the page which has a grid of irregular columns and rows, marked out in pen.

“You tend to isolate your giants.”

I agree.

“Giants, witches and snakes – I don’t want to keep them out, but I want to know where they are.”

“Why snakes?”

“In mythology, many a hero has been brought down by a nip on the heel.”

I recognize that the conversation has centered on me, my thinking and what I do. Too late I realize that I should ask after his interests.

Posted by: normanlgreen | April 28, 2013

Dream, April 28, 2013 Prison Break & Gravity’s Pull

Dream, home, 2:40 am

I have been in prison for as long as I can remember. The other men locked in the red brick walls are patient and forgiving of me. They know that I am developmentally delayed and probably innocent of the crime that sent me here. My best friend is a guard dog, a German Shepard.

The sky is a uniform afternoon gray, as are the boiler suits in which prisoners are clothed.

The dog and I play in an alcove between three buildings. She slobbers on my hand. I like it and let her do so again. We get the idea to run. We charge into the main courtyard where downcast men with rakes redistribute gravel, leaves, and twigs. They look up from their work. They jerk their heads to silently signal us to keep running. None of the men call out, none change expression, but all indicate which way to turn as we run through the maze of brick walls.

We round a corner, my partner at my left side, and enter the main avenue leading into the prison. For the first time, I see that there is only a drop bar across the entrance, not a full gate. The bar has a stop sign mounted to it. The sign has red reflectors at the edges of the white lettering. Past the bar stands a bus – the sort that brings all prisoners – I can almost remember arriving. The accordion door to the bus is open, no driver in the seat. I wonder if the engine is running, but cannot tell from this distance.

With each step we take toward the bar and the bus, gravity increases. Our progress slows. Even the dog – strong, true, and loving – struggles against her growing weight. I hear my breathing: puff on the exhale, wheeze on the inhale. Its labored rhythm makes me doubt our chances of success. The guards will hear, and they will stop us. I see the city past the gate-bar, the backsides of tall commercial structures. I strain to breathe but keep its rhythm. I cannot breath less without passing-out. We are drawn closer to the gray road with each step.

The noise of the cat scratching on the bedroom window wakes me. I struggle to break out of the breath pattern established in the dream.

Posted by: normanlgreen | April 27, 2013

Dream, April 27, 2013 Unlicensed Pilot & Manhood

Dream, home, 4:40am

 

I am to pilot a man to the next town. We are to fly a twin prop plane. I have not flight experience, but have some ground school time, so two women with actual experience will fly an accompanying plane. We will not tell my passenger that I am not a pilot.

Walking to the airport, I get ahead of the other three and have to double-back, cross a four lane street twice that I might walk up behind them.

After we are checked-in at the airport, our clothes are transformed into costumes, stylized zoot suits with suitable hats. The fabric glows. All four of us are aware the clothes are magical.

After take-off, I am to pass over a lamp-post, rolling one wheel on the top of the lamp housing to signal the following plane that we are alright.

 

Earlier: I am in my middle thirties and taking a group of scouts on a trek that starts in the woods and ends in a city – the city is one that recurs in my dreams, a commercial section of two and three-story buildings from the late 1800s. Re-gentrification is spotty. Late morning sun pours up the street from the south.

We complete the hike at a wide spot on the sidewalk where a tarp has been stretched over a frame to shelter a microphone stand. All of the scouts and their adult leaders mill around this area. After I sense that we are all in place I notice one young man who looks upset, on the verge of tears. I ask him to recite some piece of dogma about teamwork – knowing that he has a talent for memorization.

He starts to speak the piece, but instead of facing outward to the small crowd and delivering the speech into the microphone, he faces the scouts. Once he completes the piece he extemporises on the ideas behind the dogma. He says that to perform a task alone only strengthens the wall of isolation, while working in a group forms interconnecting bridges between individuals, that they do not lose their individuality in this process, but rather confirm their identity while creating a new structure of great integrity. When he finishes speaking, I see that his shoulders have broadened, that he has gained in stature, stamina and confidence. He stands before us, a man.

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