“Let’s make a bedtime story Cassie!”
Cassandra’s niece Emily wore her jammies and was coiled up under a long, roll top desk where a chair usually goes. The desk, long having lost its use as a desk, was used to hold personal items in the drawers and folded clothes on its surface.
Cassey took out the magic story star.
It was a piece of scrap wood laminate that had an eight point asterisk drawn on it. The asterisk was about 9 inches in diameter and made four evenly spaced lines intersecting at the middle of the brown laminate sheet. She held a quirky piece of scrap metal that was useful in two sorts: one, it was tiny, and two, its perfectly weird shape bounced it randomly when it hit the laminate. Emily called it “the wacko.” Each section of the asterisk had a number from one to Eight. Around the center of the asterisk was a circle traced from a 1945 American silver dollar.
“Where was our Heroine yesterday?” asked Cassandra.
“She just found out that she was an Awesome! THEY are the beings that imagine they live in infinite universes and that whatever they TRY to do will eventually happen to them somewhere. She JUST started imagining that there were versions of herself that dreamed of the other versions of herself. THOSE are her FEELERS. The other versions of her ALSO feel the dreams, but those feelers are specialists. Between them all, they feel almost all of them. They know that with all the possibilities out there, that any dream or thought they have about themselves is both a dream AND a memory. I know the whole lot of us all would JUST fall apart to bits if it weren’t for Jenny!”
“And what was Jenny doing?”
“SHE WAS ABOUT TO TELL HER SECRET! SHE WAS ABOUT TO TELL HER NANNIE HOW SHE KNOWS IF HER ACTION MOVES THE UNIVERSES TOWARD FREEDOM OR AWAY FROM IT!”
“Right. And where was she again …”
“Her nanny and her were running from the Girgs. That’s the secret police that are out to keep her from telling the world about the secrets of the Awesomes so that people live in fear. They were in an alley at a secret door. But it’s locked.”
“Right. So what does Jenny do?”
“I open the door silly!”
“It’s LOCKED and the Girgs are five minutes behind!” said Cassandra.
“Do we have a lock picking kit?” asked Emily. “Wait, maybe since it is secret door someone would hide a key around.”
“Great idea, drop the wacko on the center. If it lands on the 1 then it’s very unlikely there is a key. If it’s an eight there is a very good chance that there is a key and we just have to find it. The higher the number, the more likely we’ll find it.”
Emily dropped the wacko and it landed on the small circle and bouncing quickly and resoundingly on a six.
“Let’s look around for a key!” said Emily.
“We only have five minutes left,” said Cassey. “Drop the wacko for the first minute search. My intuition tells me that it has to be a 6,7 or 8 to find it.”
“Emily dropped the wacko again. It landed on a 4.”
“Okay, we’ve lost a minute. Do we keep trying or do we run away?”
“We keep trying. I’ll drop the wacko again.”
She dropped the wacko, it was a two.
“Dang it,” said Emily.
Cassandra picked up the wacko.
“There is a 1 in 8 chance that we were wrong about the Girgs and they are already turning the corner.”
Cassy dropped the wacko. It bounced to a two again.
“Whew,” said Cassy.
“One more time or we need to leave. This ISN’T the movies where the hero always gets in at the last minute,” said Emily as she dropped the wacko.
It landed on a six.
“Now we need to open the door!” said Emily.
“Drop the Wacko and let’s see how hard the door is to open.”
She dropped the wacko, it was a seven.
“Okay. it’s easy,” said Emily. Now let’s try.
She dropped the wacko and it landed on a one and INSIDE THE CIRCLE – the hyper spot.
“Uh – oh,” drop it again and multiply the result by five if it’s five or higher it’s positive. If it’s four or under it’s negative!
She dropped the wacko and it was a 5 which turned into a 20.
“Okay! The door opens up REALLY easily.”
“We go inside and close the door.”
“The door is shut, says Cassandra, the Girgs are avoided.”
Emily turns to Cassey.
“SPILL IT AUNT CASSEY. WHAT’S JENNY’S SECRET?”
Cassy picks up the board and puts it away.
“NO! NOT ANOTHER TO BE CONTINUED THING!”
“Do you want the secret or don’t you?” asked Cassy.
Emily came out from under the desk. She went up into her face to face. Hands on hips. Eyes on eyes.
“I want the secret.”
“Okay, but you must promise me that you will remember it. That you will DO it. That you will USE it to liberate the Universe from stupid.”
“I WILL free the Universe from stupid!”
Cassie sat down on a chair.
“Sit on my lap.”
“I’m too big now. I’m 11.”
“Just try it.”
Emily sat on her lap.
Cassie leaned in and whispered.
“It’s simple but very powerful. The secret to saving the universe is not in WHAT things you do, but HOW you do things. There is an old story of a Zen teacher whose student was concerned about the world suffering so much. His teacher told him, ‘I must do something about it right away.’ And went to the sink and did his dishes. His student at first was angry until he saw the teacher DO DISHES. He handled every dish like it was a lost soul. He carefully cleaned it but he was completely at ease. He dried it with great care. He put it back in the shelf with dignity, like it was the MOST important dish in the world. His student noticed that the room itself FELT different. That the Universe in some small way shifted toward a higher state. Afterward, the teacher said to him, ‘Always follow your heart’s best judgement, in the moment, and use your actions as the power to liberate those who suffer – especially yourself’.”
Emily looked at her frowning.
“That’s SO, SO STUPID! YOU JUST WANT ME TO DO THE DISHES!” she said.
Cassie shook her head ‘no’ while looking at her eyeball to eyeball. Behind Emily, on the desk, was a basket full of unfolded towels.
“Try it. Here’s a dry towel. Fold it like you feel right now – angry.”
Emily folded the towel and set it on the desk.
“Now, if your heart tells you to, and you think I may be right, and that I’m not just trying to get you to do dishes, fold the towel FEELING that IT is lessening the suffering of others and yourself.”
Emily looked at Cassandra’s eyes and noticed they were a little wet. Not too wet. But just a little.
Emily thought about the friends she knew who were sad because of what they lost in the tornado that ravaged their East Texas town.
She picked up the towel that her mom washed by hand and later dried in the wind that day. It was the first time her mom ever did laundry without a washing machine, but that was before the tornado. Emily folded the towel choosing to believe that the way she did it was healing to them in a small way. She put all her heart into it and set it on top of the desk.
“Great. Experiment a little. Maybe faster this time, or slower, but with a WILL TO FREEDOM,” said Cassandra. “That’s the secret.”
She did it again.
“Let me try one,” said Cassandra.
Cassandra picked up the towel and her eyes showed an courage and kindness that visually touched Emily, but it was natural – unforced, easy. It was the way Cassandra did EVERYTHING. Emily’s eyes showed that she saw what she was missing in Cassie before.
“CASSIE the room is different!”
Cassie handed her another towel.
“That’s the secret. And if you help people with this intention, it changes things. You dot usually see it’s effects often, but THEY ARE THERE.”
Emily’s mother walked in closed the door. Her sad eyes went from sad to a little less sad to a closed mouth smile at the site of her daughter with Cassie folding towels.
“Look at you two. It feels good in here.”
Cassie shrugged her shoulders and gave a upside down smile to Emily while tilting her head.
“Good night dear,” said her Mom.
“Good night mom.”
Her mother left the room.
“We got to SEE it this time!” said Cassandra. “But we won’t see ALL of it. The universe won’t see the results of these towels being folded like this for millions of years – that’s my guess.”
Emily got under that the desk to go to bed.
“That’s really her secret?”
“It’s aint what you do it’s the way that you do it?,” said Emily.
“HA!” laughed Cassandra.
Cassie started singing the song by that title. Emily’s eyes rolled up to the sky …
“STOP IT!” huffed Emily.
Cassandra stopped. Looked at her deeply and lovingly and then sang the song slowly … like a hymn.
Her eyes didn’t roll that time.