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Episode One, Simple Courage

by Chongo


The initial episode of Monkey in the Mirror, Simple Courage is now available.  This first chapter sets the stage for the world where the story of life in the wild, as an animal, is told.  Monkey in The Mirror is an account of human kind’s devastation of nature, as told from the point of view of the animal’s that bear the brunt of that devastation, direct consequence of an overwhelming and widespread human proliferation.  Though written like a children’s book, no child should ever read this vivid account of life’s realities.  Every adult, however, should – unless, of course, they simply do not care what the future has in store for us, or rather, in store for the unfortunate children who will inherit what is left of what is only a part of the world that we once had.  Maybe an awareness of the certainties of this future will inspire those who do care but don’t know to be kinder to the future by being more responsible in the present – though given the common lack of courage’s expression in modern societies, perhaps or rather probably, not, especially since not all courage is clear and simple.

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 (Chapter Two, “Complex Courage: Insight” is written, is currently being edited, and will be available in early 2009)

(Episode Three, “Of Wild Dogs and Hyenas: The Power of Gangs” is written, is currently being edited, and will be available late in 2009)









This book describes the stark, actual reality of being alive in as accurate a way as possible.  Although told in the context of a fictional story, the events portrayed are actual events of the living experience: the beautiful, the ugly, the pleasurable, the unpleasant, the delightfully blissful, and the horribly painful.

          Many of the passages contained herein can be somewhat disturbing to tender sensibilities (to the point of being disturbingly frightening and hopelessly disheartening). They MUST be to clearly and unambiguously expose the desperate, primitive brutality that shapes each individual living experience and makes life the perpetual struggle that it seems everywhere to inescapably be.

          Should the reader feel the least uneasiness in or experience any sense of timidity whatsoever about exploring the discomforting subject matter discussed and prefer instead to just ignore the realities described, then said reader should read no further, stay safely in the comfort of their secure home, believe that civilization (at least industrialized civilization) is not really dying by its own hand at all but rather, thriving, be convinced there is still room and resources for billions and billions more people, irresponsibly pretend that we need not worry in the least about the future, and imagine most mistakenly (to the disadvantage of so many who will suffer the consequences of such incorrectly placed faith) that everything is going to be just “fine and dandy,” for “civilized” society.  It will not be.  Civilized society risks collapse. Soon the desperate rigors abundant in the chaos of nature will be abundant in the human living experience, as civilized society disintegrates into the same chaos that nature, in the absence of civilized peace, can’t help but be, because humanity always wants more.



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                The fact that she was paying unusual attention to her kill did not go unobserved by the big baboon watching attentively, very quietly, and completely unnoticed nearby. He had not run away, as all the rest had. He had stood his ground and turned to face the danger instead: his style. He was most curious. Posing in silence, he was observing events most carefully. He saw that there was a delay: a problem. He realized that the leopard was perplexed, distracted, and clearly confronting a complication.  What a marvelous stroke of luck he thought.

                Being a fully-grown, large primate, he thoroughly understood two’s complexity, and so recognized that the cat was probably momentarily overwhelmed by a decision involving this more complicated number which is, ordinarily, useful only if provided a pair of grasping hands. He knew that it might be this very sort of detail keeping the leopard, straight away, from making a quick exit with a small, soft, tender meal. He also knew that the cat was wholly unaware of his presence. And, he knew that he was smarter than any cat; and instinctually, knew too that, having been king for as long as he had, the baby who had just died (though this was by no means the first) could easily have been his – he had just been playing with the youngster – thus providing the necessary motivation. He loved the children of his family, as all good fathers, uncles, brothers, and loving friends should. 

                He embraced the rage wholeheartedly. He would use it as an effective tool to guide his actions decisively. For now, danger would not need to be considered, because opportunity and advantage overwhelmed any sense of fear that might arise, so there was none. He felt no fear, but instead, a compelling eagerness and a great calm deep within. He could scarcely control the joy. He was beside himself with resolute and unyielding determination; not to mention a sense of complete reckless abandon that he had never felt before. He was very, very ready – as he had never been before.

                This big, powerful primate recognized that an extraordinary moment of incredible opportunity was clearly presenting itself for the taking – an opportunity that many a leader like himself would, in ungratified anger, so often dream for, yet never imagine truly realizing.  For this baboon, on this day, the dream had become real – as real as anything could ever be, as real as he could imagine anything ever being, as real as life had to offer.  He would not let this unbelievable opportunity for the expression of his rage pass him by – absolutely no way, no how. 

                The time had finally come to give his greatest courage wings.  He’d been king for an extremely long reign; he knew there was a successor, probably his archrival Chow, waiting for the right opportunity to dethrone the king anyway. Chow was always on the outskirts, waiting for his chance and, given the short duration of any king’s reign, the eventual win. His time was near. So king thinks, “Why not live it up uh little, and make final statement, instead of waiting for shame of eventually losing to younger, quicker, stronger, Chow?  Defeat is no way to go.

                For the moment, he had never been stronger, or in battle, never wiser. And, as he knew well, a great king does not fear death, though nothing living, kings included, can ever escape the fear of how death will come, nor escape the fear of its slow, extended, and agonizingly painful duration. To not fear them both is, most clearly, to simply not be alive or not to know that you are, regardless of who or what one might be and irrespective of the great courage that one might believe that they have. In the absence of either fear or the knowledge of the pain, there is no courage, only its illusion. But, he knew the truth. He had no illusions. He had lived long; old age was on the horizon. He knew pain well. Still, life is always a sad thing to surrender at any age, regardless of the sound justification or the irresistible compulsion to so choose.

                He would face the risk of the pain without really knowing what that pain was, only that it was the worst nightmare one could dream, more than all the pain he had ever known.  He knew well how terrible everything could become because he had watched his father and then his uncle meet their ends in this very same way, bravely. Still, where there is life that is determined, there is always a chance to set things straight, regardless of how slim that chance might be and irrespective of the great expense incurred.  He had waited a lifetime for a moment like this and knew there would be no other like it again. It was either now, once and for all, or never again in this life (which was, given the compelling motivation, not an option). He could hardly contain himself; the power of the moment and the clear opportunity for surprise completely overtook him. He was overwhelmed. The situation presenting itself was simply irresistible to an opportunist like himself.

                His anger would remain ungratified no longer.  He would now satiate a primitive will born deep in the instinct that simple courage is and in the biological tradition that is so fundamental to the behavior of baboons. This is the desire that all baboons who are powerful can hardly escape: the desire to be the champion who kills at great risk to himself – thus more the appeal – for great glory, an enviable station, among all the many possibilities for dying, considering that most include much less dignified ends, such as being eaten alive while kicking and screaming in agonizing torment and pain; this end being very commonplace, given the brutally indifferent and savage fairness of ‘true’ primitive liberty, in a wild, uncaring savanna (e.g. “Of Wild Dogs and Hyenas: The Power of Gangs”, Episode Three, which describes some of the realities of primitive liberty, in exquisitely rich, magnificently vivid, and chillingly morbid detail).

                At last the big male had made his arrival at what was to be the greatest day of his life.  Every other day and every other experience he had ever known he had lived in preparation for this so most special day: his day to decide the kind of king he’d be, a defender of his kingdom, simple and brave, no less than his father and uncle had been. He would conform to long-standing baboon tradition because there was such clear opportunity to do so, however slight the chance to actually win.

                Never had he been more certain about any decision he had ever made in his life. The immortal glory of a mighty ruler lay just one impulsive, self-sacrificing act away – he was certain about this one, there was no doubt at all – for a mighty baboon on the most important day of his life, what unimagined and uncontrollable joy! Instinct had been set into irreversible motion. No stopping now, it was far too late. Nature’s decisions could not be undone.




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© 2007 Chongo

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