Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Snake and Duck

I wrote this blog a few months ago but somehow never published it here until a chance conversation today helped me recall this gem of a story.
This is how it goes:


There are many variations of this ancient parable. The moral of the story though, always stays the same. Come closer, make yourselves comfortable and take a seat; I would like to share this story with you.
Once upon a time Snake wanted to travel to the opposite side of a great river. He was however unable to swim so he asked Duck to carry him on his back across the river.

Oh no, said Duck. Bad idea. You are a snake and you bite and kill your prey. If I carry you on my back I will be killed.

Oh No! Said Snake in return. Yes it is true, I am a venomous snake but what would I achieve by biting you? If I bite you, none of us will get to the other side of the river. Indeed biting you would be a foolish thing to do; besides you would be doing me a great favor and for that I would be most grateful. I give you my word, I shall not bite.

Duck considered the wisdom of Snake's words and agreed that even a venomous snake would not profit from killing his very own vehicle across the river and thereby threaten his own survival. Finally, because Snake gave his word, duck put her instincts aside and consented.

Halfway across the river, while navigating the treacherous rapids, Duck felt an incredibly painful sting and realized that she had been bitten. Oh Snake! she called out sadly and weakly, for she was dying. Why have you done this dreadful thing? You gave your word and I kept my part of the bargain. Now your life and mine will be forfeit because of you!
Snake replied sadly, Yes I know. And I am sorry; But you see,


I am a snake.


It is in my nature as a snake to bite everything; even the very hands outstretched in brotherhood to help me.

So what is the moral of this story? What would you have done?

Was Duck a fool? Was Snake at fault?

You tell me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Wish....

At five or six years old, our Wish lists are anxiously long, fervently passionate and deliciously uncomplicated. Its no secret: We know exactly what we want; we have dreamt it a million times have tasted it's sweet taste on our tongues and have just almost touched it in everything we do.

At five or six we make sure the whole world is aware and well-informed of our wishes.
We have absolutely no qualms about setting up a campaign in order to get what we want. No mountains too high or rivers too deep. We will shamelessly throw that tantrum, innocently offer that bribe, make public manifestations, outright demands, steep bargains and endless chantings even suffer the occasional spanking to achieve the contents of our Wish list.

Somewhere along the way though, something changes. We learn that wishes should be only made at special occasions, at birthdays and christmas and especially after performing some heroic grown-up act of stoicism.

We learn that we have to deserve what we wish for; be silent about it, hide it, submerge it, deny it, shut up about it, don't be a pain about it, question it, see it for the selfishness it really is, be ashamed of it, ridicule it, castigate it, (strangle the damn thing!) and finally forget about it.
Just blow out your candles and make a wish. Watch a falling star and make a wish. But DON'T!-

Don't breathe a word of it to another living soul. Telling it ensures it will never come to pass.

And thus we learn and grow and even teach....

We learn to swallow our wishes. We learn to hide them from everyone; especially from ourselves. We learn to suppress and be coy and quasi enlightened: Only needy, lowly, pathetic beings have wishes. Everything I need I already have. A true enlightened soul is devoid of all earthly desires..... Plus more of where all that came from.
Needing an escape vent for all this unnatural suppression, we learn instead to heap attention on what we don't want:

I don't want a nagging wife, a lazy husband, a boring job, a nosy neighbour, a cheap wristwatch, a fat butt, an ordinary kid, flappy ears, an overbearing boss, a demanding friendship, high bills, responsibility, nightmare in-laws, the neighbour's cat pooing in my garden, people looking at me too closely, commitment, questions that hit home in senstive areas that i prefer to ignore, being reminded that I'm lost, acknowledging that something sad happened to my magical child.

That my Wish list is lost or has somehow ended up in the shredder.

So today I started a Wish list and discovered that it was infinitely easier at six to make one than at thirtyfour. I discovered too that the fact that my birthday is in two weeks momentarily flashed a greenlight in my mind; a justified permission to pick up the pen. Bah!

Here's my number one wish:
I wish to learn how to make seriously magnificent, shamelessly public and utterly selfish Wish lists again.


Now how is that for a start?