TUESDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2004
One day, a long, long time ago, there was a man who lived just a stone’s throw from a very small village. Some people thought he was a giant. Others argued he was certainly a large man, but no giant. But that he was much bigger than the people in the village was obvious to all who encountered him.
This man … was a lonely man, because he lived alone and also because he … was different from the villagers. At times, his loneliness became unbearable – so unbearable that he could not stop himself from leaving his house to walk the few hundred yards through the dense forest to seek some companionship in the village.
When he did find himself in the village, he tried his best to make friends. But it was always a slow process. Although he was friendly, he could never hide the uneasiness about how different he seemed. He tried hard to convince people that he is like them. He wore clothing that was similar to theirs – or so he reckoned anyway, and he tried to talk about things about which they could add their own opinions or experiences. He also attempted to speak in ways that were similar to their ways of speaking, all in an effort not to alienate them.
All the inhabitants of this village lived in small houses, with small pieces of furniture, small doors, small windows, small chairs and tables, and very low ceilings. Every time the man visited the people in the hamlet, he had to bend down low to enter their homes. His butt hurt from sitting on their little stools, and sometimes he was somewhat clumsy at their small tables. He also hit his head against their ceilings, and his eyes burned from looking out their small windows. His back ached every time he walked home – from all the bending down, of course.
The structure this man called home – which he had built with his own hands – was much, much larger than even the largest house in the village. Compared to his house, the houses in the village looked like doll houses; compared to the houses in the village, his house looked like a castle. Of course, the man didn’t like talking about his residence. He knew, or suspected that the villagers would feel embarrassed about their own cramped dwellings. And the man never invited the villagers to visit his home because he feared alienating them so much that they would never want to speak to him again.
So the time went by, with the lonely, shy, gentle “giant” trying his best to be part of the community in whose midst he lived – even if it was a short distance away.
Occasionally, he allowed himself to dream that a young woman from the village might just one day look at him with different eyes, and just maybe come live with him in his magnificent home. But the months and, eventually, the years dragged on without any young woman of the village looking at him and seeing anything other than a somewhat ugly, bald giant.
This man started growing tired of bending down all the time. He got tired of all the low door frames and the low ceilings in the village residences. He got tired of trying to focus on the view outside the small windows. He even got tired of getting butt cramps from sitting on the little chairs.
The “giant” wanted so much to stand up straight just once, in the middle of the village where everyone could see him, and then bellow out to all an invitation to visit him – at his home, his castle. He wanted to show them who he truly is. He wanted to explain to them where he had come from, why he is different from them, but also that he is just a man.
He knew he would have taken a considerable risk in doing so. The villagers were so used to their own houses, their own little doors, their tiny windows, their own small pieces of furniture and their low ceilings that they would have become anxious in the big castle. The big, heavy door would have scared them. The high ceiling would have caused them to grasp one another in fear, and they would have felt terribly small in his grand old chairs, sitting by his gigantic table. Finally, they would have gotten dizzy in the head from the enormously wide view from his huge windows.
People would have run away from him and his castle. They would probably never have wanted to see him again, and they would certainly have felt awkward if he had sought their company again in their tiny little hamlet. Never would he then have been able to convince a young woman from the village to come and live with him!
Still, the man was tired of bending down all the time. For once, he wanted to stand upright. Just one time he wanted the villagers to see him for who and what he truly was; to see the man he saw when he looked in the mirror.