Patience, young grasshopper

17Sep08

“Let me tell you a parable that might make the situation more clear,” said the master.

“A man once stood outside a train terminal, waiting to go on a journey. As he waited, he noticed a large praying mantis perched on the pane of glass of the window beside him. Suddenly, the wind blew, and the praying mantis was blown off. It caught itself by its two hind legs on the windowsill below. The man watched as it hung upside-down for a long time. Then it reached slowly backward with one of its middle pair of legs, scrabbling to find the edge of the sill. Finally, it gained a foothold. Here, it stayed again for a long while, as though gathering the strength to make another move. When it did, this time, it reached backward with a front leg, narrowly missing the edge of the sill with its foot several times before finally catching it. The man was transfixed by the dram as, gradually, it worked its way up to hang sideways off the windowsill. Bracing itself with two of the feet that clung to the ledge, it searched with another for some hold with which to pull itself onto the sill’s horizontal surface, but found no purchase on the smooth metal. There it hung for a long time.

“Just then, the man’s train arrived. He gently pushed the praying mantis up onto the ledge with a finger and then turned to watch as passengers disembarked and employees of the railway bustled around, unloading luggage. Presently, he noticed a green blot on the concrete in front of him. He turned and looked at the window. The praying mantis was gone. He turned back and examined the blot more closely. Sure enough, it was a crushed insect. As he looked at it, a porter stepped on it. The wet green mass clung to the bottom of his shoe and was deposited further down the train platform. The man picked up his bag, boarded the train, and continued along his journey.”

The master, having finished his tale, was then silent. “So, what is the moral?” asked the student after a while.

“Moral?” asked the master.

“A parable has to have a lesson. Otherwise, it’s just a pointless story.” said the student. “By definition,” he added, more firmly.

“Is that so?” said the master. “Well, that was a pretty good story. There are probably half a dozen morals in there. Pick one.”

The student thought about this. “Don’t be a praying mantis?” he then asked.

“Correct,” said the master.

“What exactly do you mean by ‘a praying mantis’?” asked the student.

“It’s a large green insect,” explained the master. “It looks like it’s praying. Hence the name.”

“So,” asked the student. “Don’t be a large green insect?”

The master nodded. “Correct.”

“I’m not,” said the student.

“Good,” said the master. “Keep doing that.”



3 Responses to “Patience, young grasshopper”

  1. 1 Eric

    Almost 30 years, and I’m still not a large green insect.

    I’M ON A ROLL!!!

  2. Keep up the good work!

  3. 3 Keith

    Go see your doctor. The meds aren’t working.


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