Caterpillars smoke dope.
At least there is some anecdotal evidence for that proposition. And why might they, you ask? Perhaps they, like we, have hectic lives, constantly scurrying about … often late to our destination … asking “who am I and why am I doing this?”
Sometimes our adventures may lead us to asking either “who are you” or “who am I?” We may chase dreams, or concrete objectives, or just be curious. Those adventures can lead to interesting results, or at least to interesting creatures.
Take for example the story of a young girl who really did not think much of it when, suddenly running past her, was this marvelous creature: a white rabbit with pink eyes. Nor did she think much of it when it pulled out a pocketwatch and dashed about exclaiming ‘Oh dear. Oh dear. I shall be late.’ When suddenly the rabbit dashed down a hole and disappeared.
And she (whom we now recognize to be Alice) followed, and found herself falling, and falling … and falling. She was in a dreamlike state as she continued to fall, with things passing by her. Odd things like maps and pictures on pegs … a jar of orange marmalade which she snatched from a shelf only to find it empty, and managed to put it on another shelf as she continued to tumble and fall.
Have you ever found yourself falling, tumbling through life … watching things pass you by?
As Alice continued to fall she worried about Dinah, her cat. Who would feed and care for Dinah? And do cats eat bats? Or do bats eat cats? Oh, my. She could not even think, when …
THUMP. Alice landed with a thump at the bottom of the rabbit hole and thus began her adventures in Wonderland.
Sometimes when we are falling through life we too land with a thump. And ask “who am I?” or “what am I doing?” “How did I get here?” Our own lives can seem like a Wonderland full of strange creatures.
On her travels in Wonderland Alice encounters many strange creatures including a mouse, a duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet. And she drinks a magic potion that makes her shrink. And later drinks others that make her grow, and shrink, and she changes sizes many times.
After dealing with many more interesting creatures, Alice tires of her journey and has this dialogue with the Cheshire cat, that grinning Cheshire cat:
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
‘I don’t much care where–‘
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’
‘–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question.
‘What sort of people live about here?’
‘In THAT direction,’ (waving its right paw round), ‘lives a Hatter: and in THAT direction,’ (waving the other paw), ‘lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.’
‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’
‘Oh, you can’t help that, we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
‘How do you know I’m mad?’
‘You must be, or you wouldn’t have come here.‘
Alice’s adventure continues until, peeking over the edge of a mushroom, she spies a caterpillar … smoking a hookah! (see, I told you there was evidence that caterpillars smoke dope). They stared at one another for a great long while until finally the caterpillar spoke:
Who are YOU?
I hardly know at the present
What do you mean by that?
I can’t explain myself because I’m not myself, you see.
I don’t see
… being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’
It would feel very queer to be ME
You! Who are YOU?
I think, you ought to tell me who YOU are, first.
Of course, Alice eventually awakens from her dream and ponders her future.
And so must you and I ponder our futures, and ask those hard questions: Who ARE you? Ask yourself …
Who AM I? What am I doing here? Where am I going?
And I suggest that, possibly, you should not leave your life to the chance of following rabbits down an unknown hole because … you may be left getting advice from a caterpillar smoking pot.
NOTE: this was the speech I did at the Highland Lakes Toastmasters on June 15, 2010. The character voices were portrayed by turning one way, then the other, and changing the tone and pitch although that was difficult over the roar of the HVAC at our venue.
Visitors are always welcome to just drop by, first and third Thursdays, 6pm, Francesca’s.
My thanks to Fr. Richard Pelkey from whom I stole the idea. He used Alice and the delivery technique in his sermon the prior Sunday whereupon I abandoned the speech I was working on and prepared this one.
And the gravest of apologies to English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. His classic work Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is discussed in detail in an unusually good Wikipedia article.