Every person has a story to tell. And this begins when we are conceived in our mothers’ womb. You can say we are all storytellers from birth. Just look at the month-old tiny tot cooing and gurgling in the cradle or from the mother’s arms. There’s a story in such babytalk. Don’t forget these little guys are cooped up for nine long months, and that’s a lot of chapters being written in there. So, when they are set free from solitary confinement, their muted rantings become ear-splitting crescendos. Oh, blessed is the womb that gives us the gift of story-telling so early in our lives!
Who is not too eager to tell the world of the many mind-blowing things we did or didn’t till today? Now, that is one good story to share with the world so, why not? What is yours? Mine? Well, the truth must be told; I don’t have one to share just now. Yes, they say a man without a story is a man without a history. Ok, I will borrow a couple from here and there to make up for my shortcomings.
You know, we freely use quotations of great men and women to give our speeches or work that depth of classic finesse. We google for certain wise sayings of men of knowledge and eloquence such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. Their names may sound Greek to us, but it adds flair to our storytelling. The village teacher does it, and so do our academics, and don’t forget some of our more flamboyant politicians!
Why am I ranting about the sons of ancient Greece? Well, the subject of my story is a guy from Greek mythology. Amazingly, he is still ‘alive and well’ in our midst and narcissistic as ever. Yes, you have guessed it correctly! I am talking about the little narcissuses we bump into every now and then. Archie Bunker, the bigoted neighbour, the little Napoleons at the passport counter and Humpty Dumpty legs spread out on the LRT. These pests are everywhere far more dangerous than the coronavirus thing.
As the Greek mythology goes, Narcissus is as handsome as the gods themselves (a Hunk by today’s ranking). Tall, dashing and everything else, this ‘machoman’ was the ‘daffodil’ to his countrymen, especially the maidens. Why daffodil? Hang on.
Narcissus has this nasty habit of turning up his nose at the sweet young things trying their best to get his attention at the socialite spots he loved to frequent. One of the scorned ones is Echo, a gorgeous nymph and steady favourite of Artemis (the goddess of wild animals, chastity and all that) but Narcissus ignores her despite her divine charms and glitzy moves to woo him. Being full of himself, he chose to indulge in his self-adoration. Until one day yet another would-be lover wished Narcissus how horrible it is to love him. Her death wish came true when Nemesis (the goddess of chaos) answered her prayer. One fine day, as he drank from a stream, his reflection so mesmerized him that he thought only death could set him free. Love-lost Echo watched him from the dark shadows and repeated Narcissus’ last words to him: “Farewell, farewell” as he killed himself.
What has the daffodil got to do with Narcissus? Narcissus is the scientific name for the flower. Although humble and plain looking, the daffodil has an intoxicating fragrance that never fails to allure the gullible. One is mesmerized by its beauty. Would you? Daffodils grow along the banks of streams and rivers where Narcissus is often spotted worshipping his reflection in a stupor of self-arrogance and egoism. Or something like that as most Greek mythological figures turn out to be.
The moral is when we focus on ourselves, we become blinded by our self-importance and pomp. We fail to see the goodness in people we interact with – our colleagues, family members, neighbours and the community at large. We tend to help ourselves. We are all here to serve and not to be served. To contribute and not to pay tribute to our selfish interests. When I was still in advertising, I would often tell my over-zealous fellow team members: don’t fall in love with your work, let the client fall in love with your work!
And so, my friends, I have come to the final chapter. And that is – there is much wisdom in old mythological tales that we can learn from – may we live to tell the rest of it another day.