A Journey from Göreme to Crown Point
It was late at night as I was finishing up my online classes and editing some essays. I was about to turn off my computer and get some needed rest. It was then that I heard a voice coming from the bookshelf behind me. Since I live alone, it was obvious that another one of my treasured objects was talking to me.
As I turned to see who it was, it was apparently something whose voice had a blended Chinese and a Middle Eastern accent. When the object spoke again, I was surprised to discover that it was my Aladdin's Lamp.
"You seem confused," said the lamp. I replied that its accent confused me. In response, the lamp asked me about where I had acquired him. That seemed a strange question, since the lamp had been there when I bought it. However, I told the lamp that it was in Cappadocia, Turkey, in 2011.
"Yes, you got it from Emir at his antique shop right off the town square of the small town of Göreme. You had come into his shop just to look around. Emir and you got along quite well it seemed, since he took you upstairs to his special collection of antiques. That is when I saw you for the first time. Emir talked to you about getting two very old coins. One of them was for you and the other was for your small grandchild, Jack, who couldn't have been two years old at that time. You talked about him a great deal with Emir. It amazed me how much Jack meant to you.
"Interestingly, Emir seemed to relate to your love for Jack. He too has four grandchildren; one of whom was around three at the time back then. He said that he would make you a good deal on the coins. You seemed pleased. However, then he picked me up and presented me to you to hold. I recalled him really wanting you to purchase me."
I told the lamp that Emir wanted me to buy it. However, it was out of my price range.
"Emir told you that you would benefit from having me with you back in the States. He was sincere, and you finally bought me."
My response was that I certainly loved the lamp, but, as for it benefitting me, I am not aware of any real benefit to me, other than enjoying seeing it every day. I did spend the money, but my decision was based upon his insistence. While I really enjoy it, I asked the lamp why it took so long to talk with me?
"You weren't ready for our conversation, but you are now," came the lamp's rapid response. The lamp paused and then continued, "What do you know about me, other than being an Aladdin's Lamp?"
I told the lamp that I know about Antoine Galland's novel, The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. The lamp's namesake was Aladdin who lived in some small village in China. I couldn't figure out how Aladdin got to China, but I knew that he was both impoverished and had to care for his mother.
Another thing that confused me was how a sorcerer from Maghreb, which is a large area of northwest Africa, found Aladdin in China. Nonetheless, the sorcerer made a deal with Aladdin that would make him rich. This fortune would provide money for Aladdin to care for his aging mother.
I seemed to have impressed the lamp with what I remembered from a literature class in college back in the early 60s. Then the lamp asked me a question, which seemed kind of professorial. "How did Aladdin and the lamp get together?"
I told the lamp that the sorcerer wanted a lamp that was hidden in a cave. It seemed that the sorcerer knew that it would be dangerous to journey into the cave to look for it himself. Therefore, he told Aladdin to get it for him. However, Aladdin got lost in the cave. Nevertheless, he had a ring that the sorcerer had given to him. He was so frightened that he was rubbing his hands together due to fear of not finding a way out of the cave.
The lamp interrupted, "Correct. He was very worried. As he was wringing his hands in despair, as the saying goes. What happened?"
I told the lamp that the ring was magical and produced a genie. Fortunately, it was a good genie, who got him out of the cave and back to his mother...along with the lamp. Since Aladdin and his mother still were in poverty, the mother decided to sell the lamp to get some money for food. All that she did was to attempt to clean up the lamp before Aladdin tried to sell it.
The lamp then asked a leading question knowing full well that I knew what happened, and asked, "And...?"
I told the lamp that another genie appeared, which resulted in Aladdin becoming rich. He married the sultan's daughter, Princess Badroulbadour, and lived in a huge palace. Tragically, with Aladdin's new wealth, the sorcerer heard of his good fortune.
The sorcerer approached Badroulbadour and convinced her to accept a brand new lamp to replace the old one, which contained magical powers. Since she did not know the value of the old one, she consented.
The sorcerer seemingly won the day. He rubbed his newly acquired lamp, told the genie to seize Aladdin's palace and all of the possessions, and transport them back to Maghreb.
The lamp's retort was, "So the sorcerer stole everything for himself from Aladdin and Badroulbadour."
That was the storyline. However, I mentioned that Aladdin still had the ring genie. However, it was not as powerful as the lamp genie. All that the ring genie could do was to get Aladdin to where the sorcerer lived in Maghreb, which Aladdin did. He got his lamp back, his palace, his possessions, and killed the sorcerer.
I knew what would be the next leading question. Did Aladdin and Badroulbadour live happily ever after? Therefore, I quickly added that the sorcerer had a brother who planned to retaliate against Aladdin.
The brother disguised himself as an old hag, who was able to heal people who were sick. Badroulbadour invited the brother/healer hag to live in the palace with her and Aladdin. Badroulbadour liked having a medical doctor living in the palace. Fortunately, the genie of his lamp told Aladdin of the plot, and Aladdin killed the healer also. And then they lived happily for the rest of their lives.
Finally, I asked the lamp about the strange morphing of a young man in China winding-up in the Middle East and North Africa. I have never understood that geographical blending of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Essentially, the lamp blew off my inquiry about the strange geographical blending of cultures. "That transformation took place centuries ago. I am more concerned about the present and the future. More to the point, my concern is about your present and future. That is far more relevant.
"What parallels do you see between you and Aladdin? Think about that question; there are several similar issues. Actually, that is why I started to talk with you after all those years without confronting you. I think that you are ready. Think about my question."
Interestingly, I realized that my lamp wanted me to think, which I did for several minutes before I ventured a response. Finally, I made my first entrée to his forcing me to process his query.
I told the lamp that I am not attempting to support my mother since she has been gone for decades. In addition, I'm not impoverished either like Aladdin. Having said that, I want to help my children and grandchildren. In addition, I also want to help some families in Tibet, Nepal, and Myanmar, who are living lives without many of the necessities of life. While I don't have a lot of money, I want to help my family and what I consider my overseas families.
I also had what I called a magical ring, which was my father's before he died. However, I somehow have lost it. It possesses many treasured moments for me. Its magic is in the memories. Finally, the lamp that Emir sold me is a lovely antique, it too is not magical like Aladdin's Lamp was.
The lamp interrupted me. "Forget the magic issue for now. You want to help others like your children, grandchildren, and your overseas families; I think that is like Aladdin."
I agreed about helping others. However, there is a flipside to that. It bothers me when people try to take advantage of me. I do not spend my time attempting to hurt or mess with others. When it happens to me, I get caught off guard. This happens in my professional and my personal life. I don't want to go into details in either area, but it truly dumbfounds me. I know that the world isn't perfect, but these situations that trouble me personally are done by people who know me.
The lamp listened patiently. Finally, he responded, "And you still don't see the parallel; do you? Aladdin was like that also. He wasn't trying to make a fast buck or to take advantage of others to benefit himself. He too was caught off guard. However, what did he do? I have watched you write essays late into the night about many of your mentors. One of the common threads in all of them is their desire to help others.
"Let me run past the names of your mentors: Brooks Oakford, Louie Palmer, Teddy Roosevelt, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bobby Kennedy, T. E. Lawrence, Carl Sagan, Steve Biko, Don Quixote, William Forrester, Anne Perry, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Randy Pausch. Every one of those mentors was engaged, in their own way, in assisting and helping others. I wish to be clear with you. None of them took; they all gave. Some of them actually gave their physical lives in their cause."
I accepted the lamp's shredding light on my mentors. Nonetheless, I still was adrift in a sea of confusion. It was not clear to me where the lamp was headed.
Then the lamp magically clicked on my computer and a video popped up on the screen. "Watch this. It is about your mentor, Don Quixote. He too was adrift but found his way. Methinks that you need to watch this. It is about more than his love for Dulcinea; it is about life and all the various quests that he had.
The lamp and I watched the video quietly. When it ended, there was a pause. I knew not to say anything. I remained quiet and waited. Finally, the lamp said, "You, Don Quixote, and Aladdin are like each other. Don't allow the world to change you. Be who you are. Dream your dreams. Do what you can do to improve the world and fight for what is right.
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