A note for new readers: I published this on WOTL when I first signed up in 2003. It remains my favorite work of fiction as it contains a powerful message
There is a column I added today entitled This is Where I Came in that relates to this column about the lemming who did not go over the cliff with his group.
He was not taught that it was wrong to go over the cliff yet from within his being a Spirit resonated strongly enough to preserve him in order to continue the lemming species.
If we consider that process which some may term instinct then we might understand that in order for life to continue something must either from within or without one's self influence actions that favor life.
Religionists call it Holy Spirit.
Biologists call it instinct.
Is there a difference?
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Along time ago in a land far away and over the sea a family of lemmings dwelt in the village of Nevernod.
There was Mama Lemming, Papa Lemming, and their son, Little Lemming.
Little Lemming was a most unusual lemming as he didn't like to play with the other lemmings, and was always asking questions which according to lemming tradition, just isn't done.
One day Little Lemming noticed a change in his parents behavior. A sort of sadness and apprehension seemed to pervade their home.
When he could no longer hide his curiosity he asked his mother what was the matter.
She attempted to evade the question but finally blurted out that Cliff Day was approaching.
When he pressed her for details all she would say was that it would be the most important day in his life, and then she burst into tears.
Little Lemming didn't like to see his mother cry so he avoided further questions but remembered that Uncle Wiz was a good source for answers and decided to pay him a visit.
A strange thing about Uncle Wiz was that he was one of the very few adults who lived in Nevernod.
Uncle Wiz answered Little Lemmings knock and bade him to enter and sit down.
Strangely, it seemed that Uncle Wiz already knew what Little Lemming was about to ask as he also had Cliff Day circled on his calender.
He began to talk to Little Lemming in a very serious tone, his hypnotic eyes staring at Little Lemming in such a way that it almost seemed like a dream.
'Boy', he said, 'the most important day of your life approaches'.
'Yes',Little lemming replied 'I know already, for Mother has said so but wouldn't explain further'.
Uncle Wiz nodded explaining that the lemming nature involved an almost total taboo on asking or answering questions and even when this must be done the answers should be as evasive as possible.
'But still', Uncle Wiz continued, 'I have special authority to speak a little clearer on today's matter and must tell you that every so often a special lemming is born.
It is possible you are one, since they are often known to ask many questions'
'Am I special ?', asked Little Lemming, Wiz replied
'For your sake, and the sake of your family I hope so and I will only answer one more question'
'Okay', said Little Lemming,' let's see you squirm out of this one.
Who holds the answer to the situation I seem to be in?'
The play of emotions on the uncle's face was a spectacle to behold, for 'The Question' had been asked and 'The Answer' would be given as it had been passed down thru antiquity.
'The answer which you seek lies within you, now go and prepare for Cliff Day.'
Sadly, Little Lemming returned home, his quest of a clear answer unfulfilled and the anticipation of Cliff Day weighing on his mind.
It was a bright and sunny morning as all the lemming children gathered with the leader of Nevernod who wore a coaches whistle around his neck, which he blew to silence the group as he announced that 'The Run' was about to begin.
His instructions were for all runners to stay in a tight group and run West towards the setting sun as fast as you can.
Little Lemming being not quite as atheletic as some had a hard time keeping with the group as it huffed and puffed in unison then he noticed a fog bank ahead.
A terrible dread came over him but he noticed the group didn't seem to care as they blindly entering this unknown menacing fog.
A momentary thought invaded his consciousness and a feeling that he must think of his uncle's words caused him to trip and fall to the rear of the group.
'The answer lies within me' he thought and the moment of Truth is at hand.'
Just then the running crowed broke free of the fog and found it self at the brink of a steep cliff overlooking the sea.
Little Lemming was horrified as one of his friends after the other just continued over the cliff to drown in the sea.
He tried to stop them but their genetic programming was too strong leaving him alone in tears at the top of the cliff.
He returned to his uncle full of questions hoping now that answers would be given.
A relieved Uncle Wiz greeted him and placed a finger to his lips.
'Yes I know, Son it has been a sad day for you and I know you seek answers. I will give you two questions instead'
'How would our kind live if all of any generation go over the cliff and if none did would there be enough food in Nevernod to feed them and all their subsequent children?'
Little Lemming began to understand and was wiser now but not happier as a result so he sadly went home to his parents who hugged and kissed him for surviving Cliff Day as they each had years ago.
'How can you be happy with the loss of all your nieces and nephews?' Little Lemming asked?
Father Lemming placed his paw on his son and began to speak.
'You have witnessed the great mystery of life for some are destined to go over the cliff and some like you will not die till old age but die just the same as our race lives on.
Remember that your friends who went over the cliff also had reasons to live for a while tasting of the joys and sadness of being.
Do not judge the mystery of life by how long you live but what you do with the time.
You are destined to have children who may or may not survive Cliff Day, the choice is not yours.
If you love them and they love you and each other no more need be asked of our time in this place for as long as this love flows our race will live.
It is the true purpose of being here.
The sadness of life and the pain you feel must exist for you to know the sweetness of life with its love and joy of living.'
With that they all retired to sleep Little Lemming now anticipating finding a surviving mate and having children
A strange calmness overtook his being as he reluctantly accepted the memories of the day and the wisdom of his father's words.
Now he knew that if he had the power to stop Cliff Day he would not for that was the Way of Life which he knew now was his reason for being.
© 2003 albert vallone - 5/25/16