The story of Klaus


< Teacher 12 > I would like to tell a story about a dear toy maker by the name of Klaus who lived in the land of Austria a long time ago, but not so long ago at all. Let's take a deep breath and feel the energy, for it's more than just a story of words. It's a story of feelings, it's a story of energy and it's a story of each of you.

At the age of twelve, Klaus went to work as an apprentice for the local toy maker. Klaus had always loved working with his hands and playing with wood, creating things out of it. As a very, very young boy, he would take his knife in hand and whittle away at the wood, hours and hours, not creating anything in particular but just loving the feel of the wood, of the knife and of whatever he happened to be creating. So at the age of twelve his parents said, "Klaus it's time you started making a living, doing something with your life," and they sent him off to work with the local toy maker.

Now the master, the master toy maker, was very skilled in his profession and was known far and wide for the quality, for the durability of his toys, and he specialized in making little toy soldiers - little being about almost a foot tall. And he made the toy soldiers in every different type of rank and position in the military. And because he was well known throughout all of the lands of Europe, he brought the uniform of many different countries to the toy soldiers, shipped them all over the lands.

Now Klaus ... Klaus was naturally gifted and talented and he caught on quickly to the methods and the procedures that his master taught him how to do. But even though he was adept with the knife and with the sandpaper and with all of the other tools of making the toy soldiers, Klaus found himself easily distracted. And if he didn't focus all of his energies on making that particular type of toy wooden soldier, he found that he was shaping the wood into a variety of other things.

He would often chastise Klaus saying, "Nobody is interested in buying little toy bears. Nobody at all is interested in buying a little wooden sculpture of a child, of a baby. We are known as the maker of soldiers and that is what you will do." As much as Klaus loved his job, he hated the conformity, and for ten years as an apprentice, he found it so difficult to focus, to continue making these little toy soldiers.

So, after ten years, he went to the master one day - ten years to the day - he went to the master and said, "Dear sir, I'm indebted to you for your teaching, for what I have learned with the woods and the paints, with the silk and the cloth, for all I know. But now it is time for me to leave, to go off on my own, to have my own shop where I can create anything that I want."

The master scoffed at Klaus and said, "Young boy, you are gifted and talented, but you are a failure in your work. You don't understand what people want. You don't have a focus or a direction. You're a daydreamer. You're a wanderer. I appreciate your service as an apprentice, but at the same time I'm relieved to let you go for you have caused much agony and anxiety in my life."

So, with the meager savings that Klaus had put together as a toy maker's apprentice, and the help of a few friends, Klaus opened up Klaus's Toy Making and Doll Shop. Klaus was in his passion because now he could order any type of woods that he chose, and of course, he chose nothing but the finest. He could order the finest pigments from Italy that went into the paints to create the realism of the dolls and the toys that he was going to create. And of course, he ordered the finest silks and cloths from France and from lands far, far away as India.

Klaus had a dedication to perfection - his perfection - and it mattered not to him what type of toy doll that he created. He didn't want to focus on one thing. He didn't want to focus on soldiers or royalty or any one thing. And his greatest joy was opening his shop each morning, smelling the fragrance of the woods and the paints and the materials that would go into his creations, then going into the back shop and beginning his work.

Klaus realized right away that he so loved his work and didn't want to be disturbed during the day that he didn't even hire anyone else to help in his shop. It was just him. He loved going into the back rooms, beginning the whittling and the sawing and the sanding, not even knowing what he was creating in that moment. It just manifested itself. He so loved doing his work that he would often ignore the little bell at the door that signified that a customer was there to buy. Oh, and they came. They came not just from the village, they came from all around the countryside, because Klaus's toy dolls were fascinating. There was a realism to them like none other. Some said that these toy dolls actually seemed to come to life. But Klaus didn't sell very many because he was so occupied with making them. He wasn't attending to the customer side of the business.

Klaus would sit down with the block of wood in hand and he would just feel it. He would feel the texture of the wood. He would feel its grain and its hardness and its quality. He would hold it close to him and breathe with it - as strange as that may sound to some people. He wouldn't try to focus on what that block was going to look like when he was done. He would just let his hands start working with it, become totally absorbed now in the cutting and the sanding and the shaping of this once block of wood now into an expression of himself.

One day he would make a child, a baby, and as he was whittling away and stitching away, even making the little shoes out of the finest leather, using the best threads, he was actually imagining himself when he was a baby, being held in the arms of his mother, rocked back and forth. And this feeling and this passion would flow out from him into the block of wood now transformed into the most beautiful baby. And as he took the paints to create the fine, fine detail, it literally seemed to bring the baby to life. He personally stitched all of the clothing. He personally put the hairs in place. And he absorbed himself, as many of you have often absorbed yourself, in the beauty of the work, of the moment of expression. And he loved every doll that he created.

He loved when he created a little doll that looked like a fairy in the woods that he remembered seeing when he was very, very young. He remembered when he saw this wonderful family ... not necessarily his, but a family walking down the street ... imagining what it would have been like to be in that family - the young children, the happy parents all dressed in their Sunday finest, going off to church - and he would start to carve and create this family, clothe it and bless it. He would create the whole family.

He was also known far and wide for these strange type of dolls that he would create. He called them the saints, but they didn't look like any typical saints of the church. They were angelic beings that didn't have the harsh features of human beings. And when somebody would ask him the name of the particular saint who he had brought to life in this wooden doll form, he would mumble some name - "Saint rrmm" (Tobias mumbles) - and people would then create their own names and say, "Yes, this Saint Demetius. This is Saint Christopher. This is Saint whatever." It didn't matter to them because the customers loved these dolls that had been carved into these beautiful saints.

Klaus made dolls out of just about everything. He made dolls that looked like kings and queens. Not the kings and the queens who actually sat on the thrones at the time, but a king and the queen that he felt within himself. When he carved ... "What would it be like to be a king - my own king?" and he would carve that out of wood and stitch it out of cloth, finish it with the paints.

So you get the point. Klaus loved his work. Because he loved it so much, it infused an energy into every doll that he created. It brought to life that doll. It carried the energy of his love, of different parts of him, of his wishes and his desires and of his imagination.

Now as the years passed by, Klaus realized that he sold very, very few of these wooden dolls, which actually created more of a demand. The people who came to buy from him were frustrated and aggravated by his lack of service and attention. Oftentimes they would find that his shop was closed up but they could see him in the back working away. His friends and local townspeople said, "Now Klaus, why don't you hire some help? You will sell many, many more dolls. You could be a very wealthy man because your dolls are noted for their perfection and for a type of energy, a type of vitality not found in any other dolls in all of the land."

Klaus did not necessarily want to work with anyone else, but the real motivation was that Klaus didn't really want to sell his dolls. He was so attached to them. His back room was lined now with thousands and thousands of the finest wooden toy dolls that you could ever imagine. Some animals, a lot of angelic beings, fairies from the woods and a lot of different type of humans were now represented on his shelves.

As the years passed by and now Klaus was coming to be an elderly man. He was happy with his life. He never married. He never had children. He did very, very few things with other people because he loved his work. That was his family. As years passed by, Klaus began to notice that his eyesight was getting very, very poor. It was difficult, even with using glasses, to focus now on the finest details - the pupils in the eyes when they were painted, the stitching in the robes and the capes of his creations. He noticed that his hands also were becoming very painful, difficult to move the joints, and where he could once create a doll in two or three days, now it was taking him two or three times as long.

He took a deep sigh one day and realized that his day as a doll maker was coming to an end. Even though there was a bit of sadness, he looked up at all of the dolls lining the walls of his workshop and realized that he truly wasn't alone.

So one day Klaus decided it was time to retire and he knew now that in order to retire and to be comfortable, to keep himself fed and clothed and to also now perhaps do a little bit of traveling, that he would have to sell all of his dolls. This brought him great sadness but also a feeling of freedom. He had enjoyed them for many years, some of the dolls on the shelves had been there 40 years of time. He realized it was time to let go. So he put a large sign on the front of his store that said "All items on sale." He hired some young friends to help come in and sell the entire inventory, and he opened it up to the public. And within days every doll in that store was sold - oh for a premium price of course - giving Klaus all the comfort that he would need in his finances, in his retirement.

Now the store was empty. The customers were gone, the dolls were gone, and yes, Klaus had emotions, had mood swings, was feeling a bit sad and empty not knowing now exactly what to do with the rest of his life. Short story... (some laughter)

Klaus decided to go take a walk around town. He had seen so little of it over the years, now was the time to start doing these things. As he was walking along the river path close to the city, he came across a young couple walking their child and their dog, and he instantly recognized that dog. He said, "I carved a dog just like that - the same eyes, the same fur. Well, perhaps dogs tend to look like dogs. Perhaps it's just a coincidence."

And as he walked closer to the city, Klaus came across a very unusual looking man. He looked rather eccentric, different, and Klaus immediately recognized him as one of his dolls, stopped him and said, "Dear sir, what is it that you do?" And this man, somewhat startled said, "I am a poet, I am a storyteller and a wanderer. And who are you?" He said, "I'm Klaus, formerly a doll maker, and I seem to think that we have met before." And the poet shook his head and said, "No," and proceeded down the path.

Klaus continued walking along. He came across a teenage boy and again instantly recognized him as one of his dolls and now was beginning to think that there was something very strange happening here. He stopped the young boy and asked about his family and his background, where he came from. The young boy seemed frightened, frightened by this old man who was questioning him, and ran off. The rest of the day Klaus encountered people and animals and even a few angelic beings who looked and felt exactly like his dolls.

This obviously confounded Klaus, not sure what was going on. So he went back to his workshop, sat down and did a lot of thinking. Why was it that he was encountering his dolls now in a living animated form - a biological form? As he thought about it, he said, "I've got to find out what's going on here." So he planned a large banquet, and he went out onto the streets and again encountered many of those whom he had seen before - and some new ones - who all looked like his dolls. He gave them an invitation to a grand feast at the finest, finest restaurant in town. Klaus was determined to find out what was going on here and by gathering all of these ... well, perhaps people, perhaps dolls ... he thought he could discover what was really going on.

Now came the night of the grand feast and the finest of foods and wine were brought out. And before the eating began, Klaus, still questioning what was going on, still overwhelmed by meeting all of these dolls now who have seemed to come to life, Klaus had the waiters pour wine - the finest white wine - for everyone at the table and lifted his glass and said, "To you." And at that moment that they started to sip, every one of the beings who was seated in the restaurant disappeared. And Klaus, in that moment, realized they were all part of him to begin with. They were all expressions of himself. Now he had brought them back home. He had brought them back into himself.

In that moment of integration, Klaus said to himself, taking a deep breath with a drink of wine, "J'encore. I meet me again." "J'encore," he said in broken French, much like Cauldre's here (Tobias chuckles). "Me again. I meet myself again."

And in that moment of that integration of every part of him, Klaus realized what he would do for the rest of his life. He was going to be the master teacher. He would gather together all of the young boys and young men who wanted to be the doll makers, and instead of telling them they had to make toy soldiers or royalty or just one thing, he would teach them to use their imagination, to use parts of themselves to create the finest of whatever they wanted to create. He opened Klaus's School of Toy Making and Dolls and went on to become one of the most successful teachers ever.