“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.”