Timeless Spirit LogoTHEME Raw Food Coaching

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. July's Theme: "Attitude"
Volume 7 Issue 5 ISSN# 1708-3265

Index Meet Our Staff Free Subscription Donations Come Shopping Advertise in TSM Archived Issues


A Swastika and a Donkey
by David Reber

When we are young
Wandering the face of the Earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal
For limited time…
~ Rush

My boy was a happy lad. He smiled, laughed, joked, it was great. Then right around his birthday it was like a switch was thrown somewhere. He turned dark, sullen, and silent. He mumbled when he used to speak; stared at the ground when he used to walk upright. Instead of wanting his hair cut short to keep it out of his way on his adventures he left it to grow wild and long enough to hide in. Instead of being the funny quirky little kid that made me grin, he developed an attitude. In short, he became a… teenager!

One particular morning last winter exemplified this best. It was early, very early, the sun was still about an hour and a half from coming up on yet another month below freezing. That late into winter it is very hard to not start the day with an attitude as black as the night outside. We rolled through the morning routine and bolstered ourselves against whatever the outside world was about to inflict. It was still early enough that the lights made my eyes hurt as I fumbled with the coffee maker. I still felt the warm, womb-like embrace of the three comforters in bed. Suddenly my wife cried out…

"What is that!? Who did that to you?"

All my efforts toward not dropping the coffee crystals ground to a halt. (bad coffee pun)

"I did it myself," was my son's reply.

"What!?" I yelled around the corner into the laundry room.

"Your son drew swastika's up and down his arm in marker!" she yelled back before turning back to him and barking, "Why would you do that to yourself, why would you want people seeing that on you?"

It was all I could do to not release my bowels right then. I formed images of young misguided skin heads lighting things on fire, Columbine, all of it. In that amazing instant I even managed to question my every move since becoming his father and wondered just where I went wrong. I think somewhere in there I even adjusted the family budget a bit mentally in case we needed to pay for counseling.

"I just did it for me," he replied. While I had yet to even see either of them I recognized his tones, already pictured his mumbling at the floor instead of looking Mom in the eye.

The fight ranged into the living room where we eat our morning cereal in front of the morning news.

"Do you even know what that symbol means?"

"Yes," here my son showed a hair of backbone, "Prolly better than you."

My eyes flew wide at this and I blinked several times. I didn't even have the stones to stand up to Mom in that manner.

"What does it mean then?" Mom demanded.

"Peace and hope," he replied.

"Who told you this?"

"My teacher."


"In class."

Righto, I was starting to get a picture. A bit o' teen-aged rebellion my son was feeling then, not joining a self-destructive movement. He'd fastened on to a single part of a lesson, paid attention to nothing else, and tried it on.

With relief I stepped in, "She told you this in what context?"


"In what context did she tell you about the swastika? What was the lesson about?"

"I don't know," he told me, eyes back in his lap, "She just said it used to mean 'Peace' and 'Hope'."

"Used too???" Mom fixed on.


"Did she tell you what it means now?"

"Well I was just wearing it for me."

"Whatever it used to mean, it means something hateful now."

"I know that… but…"

The conversation degenerated from there. I went back to getting my morning stimulant and vaguely listened to what turned into a mere last-word contest. All reason left the conversation actually and to continue to hear the boy argue an ignorant stance that early grated.

Now, you may have suspected I also have an attitude, a wee bit of one anyway. The problem is; where my son's attitude is fresh and ready to fight the good fight to its asinine ending, mine is old, out of shape, and tired quickly. His attitude wants to show its strength and stand up against the tyranny of the entire world, mine wants to go back to bed and let the world destroy itself. In short, my attitude puts up with a good deal less than his.

"If it's important enough for him to stand up to you," I said to my wife, "let him have it."

"What!?" they both went.

"Absolutely," I conceded, "If he thinks it's important enough to offend the people who are buying his food and clothes and allowing him to live in their house then by all means he should have it."

Then I turned to my son and said, "And if that symbol angers anyone to the point of beating the living crap out of you, please point out how they were wrong just like you did to us, definitely enlighten them if they let you. Nothing calms an angry mob down like pointing out how they were wrong."

"I was going to wash it off anyways," he angrily told me, his arms crossed in front of him.

"Then get to it!" Mom ordered.

Now another thing about my tired, old, caustic attitude, it does not like to fight the same fight more than once. Enough happens on the daily bases to raise its ire, to expend its energies so there was no need to rehash an old scenario. My attitude was not afraid to stomp another while down, to make sure it was dead rather than merely wounded. It was my turn to drive the boy to the bus that morning. When I got him to myself I said, "You know, there is one symbol you may be interested in…"

"What?" he grumbled.

"There is an animal that in ancient times stood for 'stubborn strength'," I told him. "We could put that one right on your forehead." Probably my imagination, but I think he may have perked a bit at this.


"A donkey," I declared, "Only I don't know how to draw a donkey, we'd have to write it."

"Write donkey on my…"

"Yeah, but with all your hair I doubt there'd be room for the whole word, we'd have to abbreviate…" I cut in to explain. "We'll write the letters A-S-S."

In a moment of ironic timing the sun itself started to peak just as the direction of my comments dawned on the boy.

"Oh yeah!" I charged on happily, "and since you obviously know so much more than your mom, we could write 'S-M-A-R-T' in front of it!"

Now I am actually glad he showed a bit of attitude, a bit of backbone. Those things will help him greatly when he enters the real world. Admittedly I was a little disappointed with what was the first thing he stood up to us with, but I truly hope his little attitude grows into a personal strength that helps him to build his own home, form his own family. We've encouraged him to go out in the world, to grow his attitude to whatever grandness he sees fit, and to properly provide a home in which to nurture it. To do this we have to remind him often that our place is a temporary place and while he is here he cannot have the biggest attitude in residence. That spot is reserved for his mom.

Hello, I'm David Reber. Currently I'm trying very hard to live a simple, uncomplicated life. I really enjoy tying flies or writing bad fiction in some quiet corner near where my beautiful wife is working on one of her hobbies. I also enjoy long walks with her when the weather is nice and we can take our two Siberian Husky puppies, Annie and Chloey with us - or when the huskies take us for a run would be the proper description. Then of course there is the time we spend trying to keep the refrigerator stocked ahead of "Big J", our active son and his tape worm.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

Any advice given is for informational purposes only.