Forest Grump

Granthos, the troll, hoisted the tree trunk to his shoulder and with a guttural noise, raised it overhead. One-two-three. Granthos pumped the trunk with his right arm several times, to a total of eight repetitions, and then, with the grace of a ballerina, he lowered the trunk to the ground.

Wiping his granite-like hands on his workout loincloth, he rested his hands on his hips for a moment. Standing 7 feet tall and weighing 800 pounds, Granthos had always been short and skinny compared to his more athletic siblings. Even his sister, Marthos, was taller than he was–something she had reminded of him of every opportunity she had. “Hey Granthos,” she would say, “Can you reach this rock? Hah! Well, I can!” And other similar remarks.

But Granthos was not an ordinary troll–he had dreams of greatness. While his siblings were throwing rocks at each other and yelling loudly and scaring travelers passing through the forest, Granthos had discovered his one true passion: bodybuilding. Inspired by the greatest troll bodybuilder of all–Arnos Boneshaker–Granthos eagerly learned all he could from Arnos Boneshaker’s TV show, Building YOUR Boneshaker Body.

Boneshaker was a giant of a man–10 feet tall and 1200 pounds, but he talked emphatically about how he had once been a “TINY weakling.”

“Once, I had arms like small rocks,” he would say, while doing bicep curls with an Oak that must have weighed at least 400 stones. “But then one day, I said to myself. I am TIRED of being weak. This stuff is for sissies. So I started to train, and I trained harder and harder, and I was consistent. That was the key. Anyone can do it, but you have to SEE your goal and then pump YOURSELF up. I committed to this path, and now–” he said, pausing as he hefted one arm and flexed his bicep into a granite ball, “I have biceps like BOULDERS and am the champion of MANY bodybuilding competitions.”

When Granthos heard this, his whole life suddenly became clear before him. He knew what he wanted to do; he knew what he must do.

“ONE!”

“TWO”

“THREE”

Granthos bellowed out the numbers as he squatted, the trunk of a large fir tree spread across his back. His legs strained under the exertion–sometimes his legs would cramp, and they would become as immovable as the mountain in whose shadow he lifted. In such situations, he would fall clumsily to the ground, bellowing out a string of troll-ish profanities. But today he felt strong enough to complete the set: eight repetitions.

Pushing into a standing position for the last repetition, Granthos roared and threw the tree to the ground. It crashed into the undergrowth, startling some doves that fluttered away. Then he sat down to rest. Nearby, a stream of water gurgled, and Granthos reached over and scooped a draught of water from the stream, then ladled it into his mouth.

Granthos’s stomach growled–he could use a snack. Just then, from behind a clump of trees to his left, he heard whispering voices. Leaning towards the copse and concentrating, Granthos made out the faint conversation.

“We need to run! Did you see him–he must have pulled that tree right out of the ground, then threw it away like it was a toothpick! Plus–you heard him grunting and bellowing. He’s feeling grumpy today, so it would be very dangerous to bother him.”

Granthos recognized from the high, nervous patter of the voice that it was a human being. Grumpy? thought Granthos. I’m not grumpy. I’m feeling PUMPED.

But, thought Granthos, licking his lips. Now that I think about it, it is time for my post-workout meal.

The End.

Peculiar Planet

Back in the day, and by that I mean less than a month ago, I was in a position where I had a fair amount of “dead” time on my hands. And, somehow, I honestly don’t recall how, I stumbled upon this zany little website that is now my official recommendation for a time killer: “Amusing Planet,” or www.amusingplanet.com.

Best described by its Twitter bio, “Amazing Places, Wonderful People, Weird Stuff,” this offbeat website is a collection of blog style posts, accompanied by plenty of full-color photographs, detailing the bizarre, extraordinary quirks of planet earth, both natural and manmade. From “rocks that give birth” to decorative Japanese manhole covers, it’s all here.

You can simply scroll down the list of articles, or you can browse by sections: Natural Wonders, Historical Oddities, and Art, and you can view posts by country too, if that floats your boat. As I might write in a work email, “please see below” for a list of just four of of my favorites, aka the ones I remembered without too much effort and could find easily without exerting a ton of patience:

Whether an internet tourist looking for something diverting, or an actual tourist looking for sightseeing inspiration, there’s sure to be an article for you. While today I am the former, perhaps, one day, I’ll visit the Museum of Bad Art myself.

Little Carolina Wren

Cuter than a chickadee, you have

Ample shares of character.  You hop

Round my porch clutching a leaf that is

Old, withered, and bigger than you are.

Little wren, every happy hop

Is full of lively energy.  Please

Never stop your cheery chirping that

Always brightens up my day with smiles.

 

Wiser birds I could find, but I would

Rather your tiny company to

Enjoy than that of less silly or

Nobler birds, my Carolina wren.

A Pleasure Remembered

Life is much like a story -a series of relationships and events that interconnect and develop into something much bigger than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the pleasures of life are not insular -they do not exist as merely singular points within a human life but are rather best appreciated and understood through memory.

At least, that is what C.S. Lewis is saying through a conversation in his book Out of the Silent Planet. Although not a theme by any stretch, in fact it only consists of about a paragraph’s worth of text, the idea hit a major chord with me. During the back and forth between the protagonist Ransom and a hross (ie ‘alien’), Ransom questions why the hrossa, if they find the begetting of children pleasurable, would not seek to beget lots of children, and the hross’s response is quite interesting:

“A pleasure is fully grown only when it is remembered […] What you [human] call remembering is the last part of the pleasure […] When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then -that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.” (Ch. 12, p. 74)

Here Lewis is painting a story-driven worldview through his characters. Denying the popular stance that life is largely a random collection of circumstances, and pleasure in its various forms is to be the ultimate pursuit, he posits rather that pleasure is most accurately found in the memories of the life/lives shaped by the event.

However, this idea is not original to Lewis, but rather an expression of his underlying Christo-centric worldview. A divine author over all things means that there CAN be a larger narrative, and seeing Him as sovereign over all supports the idea that the happenings and relationships of day to day life have a much greater long-term impact than the individual events themselves. No doubt Abraham took great pleasure in the birth of his son Isaac. How much greater, though, is the pleasure he has from seeing the faithfulness of God in the lineage that continued from Isaac to Jesus of Nazareth, and thereon to two thousand years of the gospel being proclaimed to Jew and Gentile? The Bible is full of examples of this, as are all of our lives. Let us remember the pleasures we have been given and be thankful for how much more beautiful they are over a life’s time as God has used them.