At least it wasn’t when they were turning me out! Back in my day if you were too shy or introverted or weird to become a Mage or a Rage you might get an interview with the Realm of the Sages, and if somehow they thought their was some spark of wisdom in your weirdness they’d let you through the Orb, and you’d study the teachings of the great sages. Yeah they’d make sure you had a few basic Sage Tools — like the Yoga of Exchanging Self and Other, and Imagination Through Narrative, maybe a little Loosening of Neurotic Fixation through Linguistic Play — but you’d never get a chance to practice them in real world settings — where people grieved and suffered, killing others, wasting themselves — before they’d send you out to do your Saging. Cinque or Swim they’d call it — five ways to fail — and one way to succeed.
Anyway…there I was with my freshly minted Sage Di-Ploma (folded twice — once for Self, once for Other, making a single sheet of parchment upon which were written my Reasons To Believe in Myself) and they dropped me a realm of reality called Sambonus. On Sambonus my first client was a Dog who was Unhappy because he wished to Catch Mice, and Walk by Himself, and Stalk and Pounce. Ho-ho I thought, this is a classic trap I learned of in Sage School — fighting one’s true nature due to cultural conditioning! How naive I was! How callow! Talking to that Dog and Explaining to Him “You are a Cat who thinks he is a dog! Once you stop denying your own true nature you will be Happy!”
How sagely he thought I was! How grateful he was to me! How I was grateful for the opportunity to practice my virtue of Self-Effacing Humility!
How angry he became at me when his friends denied that he was a Cat and shunned him.
They Bit Him!
They Scratched him!
They pulled his tail.
Were they also cats? Was “dog” a “cat” in the Realm of Sambonus?
I returned to my teacher and he said “Look, Kaplan. It’s tough being a sage. In the realm of Sambonus there is only one kind of creature — a Shiraffe. A Shiraffe is something that looked at one way is what we call a Dog and another way is what we call a Cat. And to be a true Shiraffe one must go through the stages of thinking one is a dog when one is a cat, thinking one is a cat when one is a dog, until finally one matures into being a True Shiraffe.”
“And how does one do that?” I asked my mentor.
“I don’t think I can tell you that” said my mentor. “Nor, to anticipate your next question, can I tell you why i don’t think I can tell you. But what I can tell you — if you want to know–
“Is what to do. ”
“And that is?”
“Go back and to your client and beg forgiveness.”
So I took the Intra-Realm canoe and paddled it myself (I had lost my money with my honor) and found my sad dog-cat-Shiraffe and said “Look, I’m sorry. I was a very bad sage. I didn’t know who you were or frankly what a Shiraffe is. Please accept my apology.”
“Apology accepted.” said the Shiraffe, now resplendent with his Polychrome Wings.
“Why?” I stammered “What?”
“You unlocked the key to my heart, good sir.” said the multi-chrome multidimensional miracle, smiling down at me from the seventy-seventh of his heart created heavens. “For that is the necessary thing every Shiraffe must have to achieve his destiny.”
“And what is that?”
“The apology of a sage.”