Uno: A Monkey Pines
Marco the monkey lived deep in the jungles of South America. If this were a science book I would need to explain that Marco was a Howler Monkey, a species of New World monkeys. I could spend pages and pages telling you all about the different types of New World monkeys. But, though I just told you a couple of facts, this is not a science book. This is a story, so let’s get on with it.
Marco was like most Howler Monkeys. He liked to climb trees and slowly skip (if you could call it that) across the top branches from one tree to another. He liked to lounge around in the treetops and eat nuts and leaves.
Most monkeys would be perfectly content with such a life. Marco was free. He could climb any tree that he liked. He could eat any food that he liked. The weather suited him just fine. And he had plenty of friends and family to keep him company.
But, from as far back as Marco could remember, he had been a piner. What is a piner? It doesn’t mean that he liked pine trees. There were no pines in Marco’s jungle. It means that he was a daydreamer. Marco liked to climb up to the top of trees and look out over the forest while he filled his mind, or let his mind drift away, with dreams. He pined.
What did Marco dream of? What did he pine about? He didn’t dream of bananas, or getting married, or finding the perfect tree.
Years ago, when Marco was a young monkey, he met an older monkey called a Muriqui. Muriquis are pretty common in South America, but little Marco had never met one. He had heard of them, but until this point he wasn’t even sure that they really existed. They were known to be very wise (they were called sages, but Marco didn’t really know what that meant). So, naturally, he was quite excited to meet this monkey.
The Muriqui’s name was Gazer. And he drew quite a crowd among the Howlers, especially the young Howlers. They would gather around him and listen to his amazing stories – stories of lands that very few monkeys had ever visited.
But one particular story caught Marco’s attention in a major way. Gazer explained that there was a thing called ‘the ocean.’ This ocean was somewhat like the rivers that the Howlers had seen many times, but it was bigger. The ocean was like the king of all rivers. It was big and blue, but that was just the beginning. All of the fish in the world longed to live in the open waters of the ocean. The sun, Gazer said, rises and sets in the ocean.
Marco had always wondered where the sun came from, and where it went during the night. Gazer explained that every night the ocean swallows the sun, causing it, and all the sky around it, to turn red like blood or pink like a flower. And every morning the ocean, having become warm from holding the sun overnight, would release the sun to come out and warm the rest of the world.
Gazer also told the little monkeys that the ocean attracted a thing called sand. No one ever saw sand in the jungle. Sand lives in dry lands, like deserts (another thing Marco had never heard of). But the sand loved the water, and so it was always trying to get to the ocean, where there was an abundant supply.
Gazer said that the ocean was the source of all life. Everything needs water to live, and all of that water came from the ocean. Rivers were just little streams pushing forward, trying to make it to the ocean so that they could blend with the great Water.
Gazer was a traveling sage (though Marco still didn’t know what that meant), and so he didn’t stay around for too long. Like a dream, he was gone. But Marco, though he was quite young when he met Gazer, never forgot him, or his stories – especially his stories about the great Water known as the ocean.
And so, there sits Marco, perched in the top of a tree like a great bird, and he is daydreaming. What is he dreaming about? He is pining away for the ocean. He couldn’t even imagine precisely what the ocean looked like. What did a real wave look like? How big is this giant mass of water? In some ways, he wasn’t even sure that the ocean existed, but he really wanted to find out. He certainly wanted to believe in the ocean. Yet he could never be quite sure. Unless…
If only Marco could travel to the ocean. If only he could stand on the sand and watch the sun be swallowed up by the great Water. If only he could, like the sand, take a journey to the Water’s edge. Then he would know. Then he wouldn’t have to dream anymore. Then, maybe, the other monkeys would stop calling him names –
Names like Beach Monkey.
©Tides and Turning, 2013. All Rights Reserved