High atop a mountain lived a strange and grizzly old man. He was a fortune teller and trickster, given to manipulating events and circumstances to suit his own purposes. This old man had a daughter named Genevieve whom he called Genie and whom he loved dearly. She was his whole life and without her he would surely feel empty and alone.
Nordof, our craggy old man, was given to many flights of fancy. Some of these could occur in the “real” world, while others would be borne strictly in his own mind. He would spend countless days imagining the kind of tricks he could play and occasionally he was afforded the opportunity to act out one of his schemes.
The local gentry often invited him to their gala events as he was sure to amuse their guests with some form of intrigue. On one occasion he appeared as an eagle and flew about the ballroom to the great delight of his hosts. At another event he transformed himself into a wolf, growling and howling, to the amusement of yet another group of guests. But these amazing schemes were all part of the game he was expected to play once he was invited to an event. Nordof knew he would have to continuously outdo himself, changing into one form or another, with each succeeding illusion being more daring and more surprising than the last.
His daughter Genie loved her father very much. She was the only one who got to see him as a real person. She knew he was lonely, but understood why he preferred to appear as a creature than show his true self. An occasion of extreme importance was about to take place to which Genie and her father were invited. Nordof, of course, was expected to perform and Genie was along to assist in the evening’s festivities. As it was, a group of high ranking individuals from a neighboring village were to be part of a wedding involving a local family and one of their own.
A young man and young woman who had been betrothed since childhood were ready to be married and two very important families were coming together as a result. Of all the events in recent date, this was to be the most fabulous and most grand. Nordof, as had become the custom, was expected to provide his most extraordinary magic at the request of the local host family. They wanted to do more than just celebrate this wedding; they also wanted to impress the neighboring gentry who knew little of Nordof’s legendary wizardry.
As the big day drew near, Nordof became increasingly agitated. His daughter was concerned. Allie had not seen him like this before. Usually her father cackled with glee at the thought of the schemes he was concocting. But not this time. He shared little of his discomfort with her, but continued to become more and more anxious. As the day of the gala wedding fast approached Genie grew more concerned about her father’s state of mind.
Nordof was in his room on the eve of the wedding trying to come up with the greatest trick of his illustrious career. Much depended on his performance as these tricks were always the mainstay of any event in this particular region. And since many important persons would be traveling from great distances to attend the event, it was all the more important to achieve something spectacular for this noble gathering.
As Nordof stood looking out his castle window, feeling frustrated with his lack of results thus far, a thought came to mind like none he had ever had. Why not just appear as himself, dressed in one of his favorite costumes, and present to the gathering the one thing no one besides his daughter had ever seen – his true Self. Nordof was dumbstruck by the idea. That was it, the coup of his career. No one would expect it. No one would even recognize him, least of all the gentry of this particular locale.
As the idea settled in and became a clear possibility, Nordof resolved to do it. He was pleased with this plan. Something inside had been urging him in this direction for a while, and the timing couldn’t be better. He shared this with no one, not even his daughter. The surprise would catch everyone off guard.
The guests arrived from far and wide filling the ballroom of the host family’s fine home. The neighboring gentry were all adorned in their most lavish of costumes. The locals were equally well attired. Nordof and his daughter were to arrive later in the evening and the guests were soon abuzz trying to guess what trickery he might present to them. As the evening’s festivities moved along, some agitation among the guests became evident, since the wizard had not yet arrived. “Do not fear,” someone said. “It is all part of his usual preparations for some grand design.”
Just before midnight Nordof arrived with Genie in tow. He was dressed in his finest costume and adorned with his most prized jewelry. Some guests commented that he looked dazzling in his attire and overall appearance. Genie was equally well adorned in her finest of costumes and accessories. The guests turned their attention toward them now and the ballroom grew quiet with anticipation. What was he going to do? All were waiting with baited breath. But nothing outlandish happened. Nordof went into the gathering, greeting all he encountered and saying hello to those unfamiliar guests whom he knew had traveled from the neighboring community.
The hosts had now become impatient and approached Nordof with their questions.
“What trick are you going to play this evening?” they asked. “When will this take place? Our guests are growing impatient.”
“And impatient they should be,” Nordof began. “Why are they here? To be amused and titillated? Those days of pleasing others with my trickery are over now. As I reflected on what to do for this evening’s festivities it came to me that I am tired of transforming myself into something I’m not. I see no value in becoming grotesque or bizarre for the amusement of others.”
Turning to the crowd now, Nordof went on. “Are your lives so boring that you require a trickster to stimulate some excitement for you? Is it not sufficient that two families and their friends have come together to celebrate a wedding? Is that in itself not sufficiently important? Must there still be some shallow trickery to make this evening more memorable?”
The whole room had become still as Nordof went on with his challenges and explanations. The hosts were stunned. They were feeling ashamed. The other guests were equally taken aback. Who was this old man to question their desire for frivolous excitement? And then someone exclaimed:
“Oh good for you, Nordof, you have fooled us once again. We were so expecting the unique and bizarre that we failed to see this new direction you had taken. Bravo, my good man. Bravo! You have outdone yourself. Here we were waiting for the grand and spectacular and you are leaving us dumbfounded once again.”
Some hesitant applause then began, and a few of the guests started discussing how completely they’d been fooled, trying to gloss over their feelings of discomfort. But the mood in the ballroom had become subdued as conversations among the guests resumed.
It was Nordof’s turn to be taken aback. He had come forward as naturally as he could and still these people could only see him as a trickster. He was saddened by this response. The crowd by now had turned their attention elsewhere and resumed their merrymaking. Some were still chatting about this latest scheme, feigning delight over how clever this trickster was.
“Imagine,” someone was heard to say, “the boldness it took to come up with such a simple plan.” Who could anticipate what Nordof would do next? He was a wizard after all. There was no predicting his next move.
As the merriment carried on, and the hosts returned to their guests, Genie came over to her father and looked into his eyes.
“I know what you were doing, Father. I know that you were sincere. They are so used to thinking of you as a trickster that they can only view your behaviors as part of some new scheme. But I know you truly were serving notice that the trickster part of your life is over now.”
Nordof and Genie left the celebration at that point. There was no longer any reason to stay. He had accomplished what he set out to do, even if no one but his daughter had taken note. The hosts and their guests had clung to the belief that he could only be a prankster and nothing more. But then, predictability was what mattered in their lives. So, the idea that someone could change was alien to them.
As time went on there were other gala events but Nordof was not invited. Since that particular wedding, no one in his community could predict with any certainty what kind of wizardry he might still practice; and it wasn’t worth the potential embarrassment if he showed up only to chastise the crowd again.
Nordof and his daughter carried on with their lives and this new direction. Genie met and married a fine young man who came to know Nordof as the person he truly was. And other individuals in his community began to take notice as word spread of his radical departure from his old ways. Nordof was particularly pleased with this change in direction. He was proud that he presented his true Self on the night of the wedding, even if no one there understood the significance of his determination. In his heart he knew that his words were sincere, that he was speaking his own truth and that he was being whom he truly was. With those thoughts and accompanying realizations now settling in, Nordof felt comforted. The persons that mattered most to him had become central to his life, and with that knowledge he felt blessed and reassured.