Fall Issue 2022
"The First Spark" An Allegory by Jay Frankston
Long, long ago, at the dawn of the ages, long before man was civilized, when fire was still unknown to him, he lived in darkness. And if I came upon him then and spoke to him of fire he would not understand. How could I make him experience it? Impossible! And so I did not come upon him. I let him live his life and he did.
And when, one night, he sought to chase away a Kuda which was roaming around his cave, he picked up a stone and threw it against the rock and it happened. He saw it. He saw it for the first time, the spark, the first spark. And it was dazzling. And he jumped for joy, for he had never seen anything like it. And he ran to his primates and shouted “I saw a spark. I saw a spark”. And they looked at him oddly and he could not explain it, though he tried and tried. And after a while he gave up. But every night, when all the others were asleep, he walked out of the cave and picked up stones and threw them against the rock but nothing happened. He didn’t know how he had made it happen in the first place and he couldn’t make it happen again.
As time when on he began to doubt that he had ever seen anything at all. But he couldn’t give up because that spark was the brightest thing he had ever seen. And so he continued his nightly endeavors with zeal and determination. As the months went by he became agitated and restless. And then one night POW, it happened again. He saw it and was overjoyed. His life was renewed and he knew he had broken the yolk. So he woke up the clan and told them about it excitedly but . . . they would not listen. The night was for sleeping. And they rebuked him for waking them up. Yet he knew. And he saw. And he knew that he saw. And it was so intense that he needed to share it. He needed them to understand. So he tried, and tried again. He talked about it all day while the others foraged for food. And they were angry with him. Not only was he no longer foraging with them but he annoyed them with a word about something he called “a spark”. And every night he’d be outside that cave throwing rocks upon rocks and stones upon stones while they tried to sleep. They thought him possessed by an evil spirit and called him the village idiot.
His frustrations grew to enormous proportions. He wasn’t getting anywhere with the others and no one understood him. He became lonely and withdrawn. At night, his rock throwing became more intense as he desperately sought to confirm his existence by the sight of just one more spark. But there was none. He grew weary and began to accept his fate. He could not go back to the others nor make them understand the reason why. So he acknowledged himself as the village idiot and became calmer and less intense. He still spoke of it but more quietly and without compulsion. Even at night when he threw the stones it was with less and less anxiety, less anticipation. And then it happened. And it happened again, and again. He threw the stones with no expectation and every time it hit the rock there was a spark. Even pebbles made sparks. And suddenly he was there, at the summit of awareness. He had the knowledge. And with it he knew that it was HIS stones hitting against HIS rock which ignited HIS sparks and he alone could see them. So he stopped speaking of them to anyone.
But the others noticed that he walked around with a radiance and a glow that no one else had. He seemed to have found something. And they stopped calling him the village idiot. They spoke to him with curiosity, and asked. But he just looked at them with love in his eyes. Then they remembered the days when he spoke so many words and they would not listen. And many of them began to rise at night to throw stones at The Rock. And they came to him. And some sat at his feet and worshipped him, and some went and worshipped The Rock, and some continued foraging and dismissed the whole thing as a farce.
And he repeated to those who sought him out that he was not the spark. And to their questions he replied: “I cannot give you anything. No one can. There is no prescription, no magic formula. You must just listen to your life and in its silence you will hear.” And he went into the mountains to meditate. But his spark had brought some light and now there were others throwing stones at the Rock and soon there’d be more light, and the earth would sparkle . . . sparkle like a star . . . like a STAR.
Jay Frankston was raised in Paris, France. Narrowly escaping the Holocaust
he came to the U.S. in 1942, became a lawyer and practiced on his own in
New York for nearly twenty years, reaching the top of his profession,
sculpting and writing at the same time.
In 1972 he gave up law and New York and moved himself and his family
to Northern California where he became a teacher and continued to sculpt and write.
He is the author of several books and of a true tale entitled "A Christmas
Story” which was published in New York, condensed in Reader's Digest,
translated into 15 languages, and called a Christmas Classic by many
El Sereno, his latest novel, is a short epic set in Spain with authentic
historical background. It took ten years and two trips to Madrid to complete.