When I tell you that ‘our story begins a long time ago’ I do not just mean a few hundred years. Nor do I even mean a few thousand years ago. What I am talking about is an extremely long time ago, only a thousand years after the Big Beginning.
The story of how things began has long since been lost. Even I cannot now recollect what exactly the beginning was, so please don’t ask. That’s not what this story is about. But what I can tell you is that at the very Beginning stood the Tree, and atop the Tree sat Dodo.
Now, this Tree was no ordinary tree. And for that matter, Dodo was no ordinary dodo…at least not the same as what dodos were to eventually become. For Dodo was the first. Since the Beginning, the Tree had stood and shortly thereafter, Dodo had flown to the top of the Tree and made his nest. And there he had sat since then, just looking.
The Tree was the best possible place one could have to make a nest. Not just because there were no other trees around then, but because from the top of the Tree, one could look out and see everything. So stunned was Dodo when he saw that he could see the entire world, he did not ever want to stop looking in case he missed anything interesting that was going on.
And so time passed by, and Dodo became a very wise bird, full with all the knowledge of the world, knowing the wheres, the whys and even the wherefores. But in spending thousands of years just looking and not actually going anywhere, Dodo forgot how to fly, so that even if he wanted to leave his nest, he could not.
As mentioned, the Tree was no ordinary tree. So, dear reader, you must see how logically it follows that the branches on the Tree were no ordinary branches. And indeed they were not. For rather than being made of wood, the branches were made of people, as were the roots. This was before people freely walked the Earth, back when all people could hope to be was a part of the Tree. They played their part very well and thanks to them, the nest stayed at the top of the Tree.
Because Dodo was a wise bird, Dodo knew that if it was not for the people who made up the Tree’s roots, his nest could not be suspended at such a great height and he could not have such a great life, knowing all the things of the world. So he knew that he really owed them a lot of thanks for everything they were doing for him. But he was afraid to thank them. How could he thank them? If he were to climb down from the Tree, he wouldn’t be able to see everything that was going on and Dodo knew that once he left the Tree, he might never be able to get back to the top again.
A thousand years later after giving the problem as much thought as it deserved, wise Dodo found the answer. He would pass his message of thanks down the branches of the tree, from person to person until it reached the roots.
“I say! I say!” squawked Dodo to the branch nearest to him “Thank you very much for all you’ve done for me. Good going! Pass it on!”
And so Dodo’s message began. So surprised was the first branch to hear Dodo speak, that she almost shook herself silly with fright and in being so scared, forgot some of the words that Dodo had just said. However, she was too scared to admit to Dodo that she had forgotten what he had told her, so she tried to pass on what he wanted as best as she could remember.
“I say! I say!” yelled the first branch to the branch lower down from it. “Dodo knows what you’ve done for him and wants to thank you! Wood going! Pass it on!”
The branch next down from the top branch heard the message perfectly, but it confused him. ‘Wood going?’ he thought. ‘Going where? The tree doesn’t really go anywhere. It just stands. She must have made a mistake.’ But as he did not trust the higher branch to get the message right even if he asked her a second time and as Dodo was too high up to hear him even if he called out to him (and too busy looking to listen anyway), the branch decided to just correct the message himself as he saw fit and pass it on.
“I say! I say!” he yelled to the branch beneath him. “Dodo knows what you’ve done for him and wants to thank you! Would go. Pass it on!” and he felt quite pleased with himself for sorting it all out. Or so he thought.
The branch next down from him felt himself to be a rather puny and insignificant branch compared to some of the great limbs of the Tree. In fact, it considered itself more of a twig than a branch and certainly not worthy of thanks by Dodo. Why would Dodo want to thank it? Did Dodo even know who it was? It was not even sure that it wanted his thanks and also thought it likely that if it did not want nor deserve Dodo’s thanks, then the branch beneath it certainly didn’t either.
It had been told to pass a message on though, so pass a message on it did. “I say! I say!” it shouted down to the next lower branch, feeling quite sorry for itself: “Dodo knows what you’re doing but doesn’t really care. Would go. Pass it on!”
And so it went from branch to branch, with each one adding on their own little bit, mishearing what had been said or disagreeing with the sentiments expressed by the former message, until the message that reached the branches at the roots was a very different message indeed from that which Dodo had began.
“I say! I say!” said one root to the others, shocked that it was even saying it: “Dodo doesn’t care what we’re doing. Let go!”
And although they themselves thought it quite an unwise thing to do, who were they to argue? After all, Dodo had sat at the top of the Tree forever and knew everything, whereas all they had seen was soil. They were hardly in a good position to argue with him about what should and should not be done. So the roots let go their grip upon the soil and the Tree fell.
When the Tree hit the ground, all of its branches splintered, breaking free of its trunk. And finding that they now had legs, they decided to use them, and walked their separate ways as men and women.
When the Dodo hit the ground, he hit it with a loud bang, landing on his head. Whilst the fall luckily did not kill him, it did cause him to forget much of what he had learned. Cursing his luck and cursing all the people of the Tree for being so nasty as to drop him to the floor and break his nest, he decided that from that day forth, he would talk to man no longer and would keep all the knowledge he still had safely locked inside his head.
And now the last dodo is dead and with it died the answers to many great mysteries of the universe. Who knows what they may have been able to tell us if they could have been convinced that we were not all bad? Not I, so please don’t ask me. All I can tell you is what the other branch told me.
Copyright © 2015 Philip Craddock. All rights reserved.