“THE WISE ONE”—ALSO KNOWN AS…
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 01 May 2009
With a painting commission or two behind me, household chores complete (at least some of them), and a much needed escape from the madness of everyday life, this week I, along with my Dad and brother, Ken, went fly-fishing on the San Juan--for rainbows and browns. We are just back to Albuquerque this evening. As anyone who has ever waded trout waters knows—lost in tranquility and concentrating on the art of casting, you think of nothing else but presentation of the fly, strikes, hooking up, and landing—lest you not catch fish. By the way, the fishing was fabulous (a photo or two to be posted next week). If there is more fun on earth, I've not found it--there is no such thing as a bad day fly-casting for trout. So, no politics or other distracting nonsense on my mind this week—it did not matter. As such, light commentary today—my adaptation of lore I heard many years ago. What triggered the memory and inspired me to add a bit of color I have no idea.
And now to the story…
He is not known world-wide. In fact, only by legend is he known beyond the small village—sequestered in a remote mountainous region of a third world country—in which he was born, raised, and lives his life. The tales of his powers make him larger than life to those who only know him by reputation. To those amongst whom he lives he is, “Korabomabah,” the village elder—a living legend they call “the wise one.”
The old man is well into his ninth decade. Wrinkles, thinning hair, a slight stoop, and a shorter and slower gait report the march of time. But the spark in his eye and alertness of mind are stronger than ever.
He has outlived three wives. Fathered seventeen children and has outlived five of them. He mentors his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Disease and tragedy have not spared his family. Hardship and heartache accepted as just a part of life, and he has carried on for there was nothing else he could do. The villagers marvel at and admire his strength—his ability to handle adversity and yet remain optimistic and always moving forward.
His has been a hard life void of modern conveniences and creature comforts enjoyed by people of the western world. He has worked hard and his body is proof. Yet he is remarkably fit and looks as if he’s good for another fifty years.
His feet have never known shoes. They are calloused and tougher than leather. To this day he walks for miles and miles over the most rugged of terrain—seasons are irrelevant; he does not feel hot or cold. Walking calms the soul and gives him time to think.
Like his feet, his hands too are strong and heavily calloused—yet gentle. He can easily catch and kill wild game with his bare hands and then turn to tool making, gardening, or art. There is nothing he cannot do with his hands. It is miraculous that, after all the years of use, his fingers and both thumbs are in tact. Some in his village less than half his age can not make such a claim.
He is of slight build, heavily calloused, fit yet a bit frail these days. No matter. He is the visionary of the people. He continues to roam the countryside—seeing, feeling, thinking—and searching for answers—to questions that have yet to be asked. He is the village “seer”—he foretells of good fortune and disaster with uncanny accuracy. When he speaks his people listen. They revere him.
Like his ancestors, he lives off the land—fruits, vegetables, grasses, wild game, fish, roots, nuts, berries, insects, snakes, and bees--just about anything without knees. He eats whatever’s available. He has never seen a doctor or dentist. Home brewed medicines, faith, and time—rest—always cure his ails. His teeth, crooked and yellow, are worn by diet but are still strong. Despite regular use of small stones and twigs to clean the teeth and minty leaves to temporarily freshen the mouth, nothing can mask the reeking bad breath caused by the diet. A condition common and therefore not noticed amongst his people.
“Korabomabah” is one of a kind—a heavily calloused man, durable but frail, with uncanny powers of “vision” yet with breath so repugnant he could stop an attacking lion. His people call him “the wise one.” Others know him as, “Asupercallousedfragilemysticplaguedwithhalitosis.”