“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
–Richard Bach, “Illusions”
Right off the bat, when confronted with a problem, I think, “OK, what did I do to deserve this gift?”
“Wait a minute,” said Moriarty. “Were it not for the problem of readers not commenting on your blog, you would not have met me, the Phantom of your blog.” We were sitting at the blog round table holding chunks of baguette, mopping up the remaining broth in our bowls from the borscht Moriarty had made, his signature dish.
As a baguette with borscht, this version of Bono singing “One” with Pavarotti and Friends seems a perfect rhythmic pairing for reading this piece:
“Your readers were all padding around in your blog,” Moriarty continued, “rummaging through all your stuff and you didn’t even know they were here. Like phantoms, they were. Am I not your gift, even if I don’t dust? Your readers like me. And contrary to what some say, I am not your imaginary friend. I am a real Phantom.”
With a grand flourish, waving his napkin above the table, he stood up. Suddenly he found himself waving a flaming torch. The paper napkin had caught in the candle flame.
Dickens, Moriarty’s black fluffy dog, leaped to his feet and barked — a single bark followed by three quick, choppy barks: dog code for “fire” or “danger,” apparently.
Moriarty plunged the napkin into his empty borscht bowl and snuffed out the flame, leaving a heap of ashes.
“You’ve done that before,” I said. “Readers will wonder what happened to me, why I haven’t published a post in a while. That is because you might have burned down the blog while I was away — or even before we finish this conversation. That would be a problem.”
“Then you’d have to start over with a fresh draft. Your story might be more fascinating the second time,” he said flatly.
I sighed, stood up, blew out the candle and we headed with our dishes into the kitchen. Moriarty filled Dickens’s bowl with fresh water, ran hot water into the sink, added soap and stood back. “Your turn,” he said. “I cooked: my gift to you.
“At least I made myself known to you,” he went on, as I rinsed the dishes and set them in the drainer.
“Yeh-uh,” I drawled,” by padding up behind me and nudging me over the edge of the catwalk. I fell into a heap of backdrops and then I didn’t know which scene I was in. I thought I was speaking English to an English speaking audience and no one seemed to comprehend,” I said.
“Then you had to stand up for your dignity and cause, didn’t you,” he pointed out. “You had to think in a new way. That just cultivated and strengthened your character. I’m quite sure. I helped you gain more confidence in yourself as an individual. More important than the problem is how you react to it. You have choices.” He looked at me. I lost the thread of the conversation, for, in that moment I saw how pale his eyes were. They weren’t gray or blue, or blue-gray, or green. They were pale, always so pale. He stepped back.
I bent down, patted him and rubbed his muzzle. “Aww, sweetie. He stepped on your foot, didn’t he.”
Moriarty rubbed Dickens’s side, ruffing his fur, topping off the gesture with a head pat. “My gift to you,” Moriarty told him. “I step on your foot and you get more attention.”
Hi Samantha – lovely story .. the more I read of Moriarty and Dickens – the more I become enamoured by them … and feel they’re talking to me too. Yes – Gifts do come from unexpected places and at times we can ill afford them and wonder why – then the realisation …
Once we realise there’s a reason – it’s easier to accept the next time … and as Susan’s doing to try and understand ‘the whole’ of that gift …
Ah the gift of bird poop …. we have blackberry poop time soon! With seagulls around .. it’s larger than normal …
Borscht – love it .. and a thick bowl with crusty bread and fresh butter – too good … cheers Hilary
Hi Hilary. Thanks for coming by. It does help to understand the whole or at least the learning to be gained from that gift. I do try to remember this passage every time I receive one of those unexpected gifts, and hopefully I reach the realization.
Next time you visit my blog, I’ll ask Moriarty to have some borscht ready for you. No telling if he’ll comply — he’s so unpredictable, you know.
Meanwhile, stay out from beneath those seagulls. 🙂
I love this one with Moriarty, and I love his gifts to you and to Dickens. I have laughed through this one as I contemplated some of Moriarty’s wise words. And of course, listening to Pavarotti and Friends is kind of like the cherry on the cake. I have that CD also.
Moriarty’s sharpness is a force that causes you to be creative. His answer to you when you said what will readers think when you haven’t posted for a while had me cracking up. I have two characters in my series that I am working on that give me the same smart aleck answers. Especially the man, who insists that he is my protector. He wakes me up some time at 2 am saying, “that not the way I talk. You have to change that sentence in my dialogue now. I don’t like it.” And he won’t let me rest until I get up and change it. That’s why I sleep with my iPad by my bedside. We’ve come to an agreement that I don’t have to go downstairs to my office and change it. I can do it on my iPad since my writing software syncs with all my computer components from iPhone to iPad to MacBook, to iMac.
So my dear, your quote applies to a very real situation that takes place in everyone’s life and you have used a situation between you and Moriarty and Dickens to describe the process of problems forcing us to display the gifts in our hands. Great job.
Now I know that my problems reveal the gifts that are inside me, and I agree. I probably would never have grown or experimented with certain things if I had not tackled the problems.
I can’t wait to read a book about Moriarty and Dickens.
Pat — Moriarty insists he’s not my fall guy, and as he looks over my shoulder when I write up my experiences with him, he often tells me, “That’s not how I said that sentence,” so I have to go back and change it. I wish I had your setup of synchronized Macs/Apple products. That’s my ideal. But, in the meantime, I’ll concentrate on spying on Moriarty to insure he doesn’t hide the blog snow shovels before next winter.
I am looking forward to hearing more from your characters. I so enjoy the Prophet and Child.
Moriarty’s pushing me to publish that book about us. I ought to have him call Theo my computer tech to find out what’s the holdup on getting my refurbished Mac Pro. He would have some sharp remark to make, and the process might speed up.
Those Pavarotti & Friends CDs are so wonderful, beautiful and moving.
Thanks for the compliments. Always appreciated. 🙂
That’s a great quote, and important, I think. I find it comforting that the problems we face happen in order to teach us something–about ourselves or our lives. I sometimes think the whole meaning of life is just one big lesson. We’re here to learn, for what reason, I don’ t know, but somehow that seems important.
And borscht and baguette sounds positively yummy right now. I need to go eat breakfast… 😉
“If you were perfect, you wouldn’t be here” — a spiritual master, well, really, more than one, told us that. I don’t know the reason exactly, Sara, but I do believe we’re here to learn.
Borscht and baguette reminder — now you’re making me hungry. 🙂
Richard Bach’s quote is powerful. It’s made me think of something extremely unpleasant that happened recently in a group I am in – the effects of it still ongoing – and I am wondering about the gift that it contains. So multi-layered! But it is an important consideration and I am now looking at it all in a different light thanks to this post of yours. I too had to stand up for my dignity and cause so my heart felt thanks to Moriarty and you. Please tell him.
The clip by Bono and Pavarotti is lovely – One.
Richard Bach’s book “Illusions” IS powerful, Susan — the handbook for the reluctant messiah. How timely that you and I often write about just what the other is struggling with. I do keep “The Messiah’s Handbook” pretty much handy. And interestingly, Richard Bach’s subsequent book was called “One,” which I hadn’t thought of when I chose Bono’s “One” to accompany this piece.
I hope you — well, I know you will — find the gift among the layers.
Moriarty was looking over my shoulder as I read your comment. He is smiling. 🙂
OMG… the Blue Bird of Happiness found you!!! 😉 What better luck can you receive than that!? 😉
I keep receiving gifts where I have to learn a lesson. I would prefer to receive the gift of the Lottery, Thank You! Heck, I have to walk the waterfront to receive the gifts that Dicken’s receives… lucky dog!!
You’ll love this, Gwynn: Just when I finished my final edit, posted and shared this, I went out to the backyard to take down my laundry. A bird who had eaten deep red berries had pooped on my white bed sheet.
It’s a gift of good luck … right?