30 October, 2012

Hammer Blows

Daniel had a unique gift. He was the only person who could see everyone's 'hammer of truth'. At first he couldn't work out what that big lump of steel was, hanging over everyone's head. But, with time, he realised that it was connected to the little white lies people would say to avoid hurting or annoying others.

Daniel saw that each time anyone told a person one of those little white lies, the hammer above the person's head would rise slightly. The more deceived someone was, the further above their head was the hammer. Initially, Daniel was amused to see some of the hammers hanging really high above, but then he discovered that the hammers always fall at some point. When the person discovered the truth, down it would fall.
"It's strange," he thought, seeing a hammer crash down onto an unsuspecting head, "everyone tries to keep this person from suffering, but all they're doing is... taking a run up to make sure the blow lands all the heavier!"

The discovery seemed so important to Daniel that he wrote a great book about the subject. Everyone told him how much they had enjoyed reading it, and what a good writer he was. He did interviews, and began to give conferences. Daniel felt good about helping out so many people. That was, until one day someone asked him to sign a copy of his book. Daniel opened the book, and saw that it was empty... he only had time to quickly glance upwards before the great hammer blow fell.
No one had read the book. A printing error meant the book had been produced with no writing on the pages.

With all his dreams and illusions destroyed by that one hammer blow, Daniel sat and managed to smile. Without doubt, what he had needed was a book like his very own...

There is no such thing as a pious lie. When the truth is discovered, the accumulation of deception will multiply the pain experienced.

The Bewitched Tongues

Once upon a time there was a Wicked Wizard. One night the wizard visited a city and stole a thousand tongues from its sleeping inhabitants. He took these tongues and cast a spell on them. The spell meant that these tongues could only say bad things about people. Then the wizard returned the tongues to their owners, who suspected nothing.

In very little time, that city was filled with the sound of people saying bad things about each other,
"Yes, he did that, she did the other, boy, was that guy a bore, and the other guy was really clumsy..."
Soon everyone was angry with everyone else, and this brought the Wicked Wizard no end of satisfaction.
On seeing all this, the Good Wizard decided to intervene with his own powers. He cast a spell on the ears of the city dwellers. Under this spell, whenever the ears heard people criticising others, they would close up tightly, so that nothing could be heard.

And so started the great and terrible battle between tongues and ears. The one endlessly criticising, the other blocking all this out.

Who won the battle? Well, with the passing of time, the tongues started to feel completely useless. Why talk if no one was listening? Being tongues, they liked to be heard, so they gradually started to change the kind of things they would say. When the tongues realised that saying good things about people meant they would be listened to once again, they were filled with joy, and forgot forever the spell they had been under.

Even to this day, the Wicked Wizard continues casting spells on tongues all over the world. But thanks to the Good Wizard now everyone knows that to put an end to gossiping, all one has to do is pay no attention to it.

Constantly criticizing others, instead of seeing the good in them, is nothing to be proud of.

The Angry Brothers

Once there were two brothers who were great friends and always played together. However, one day they had a huge argument about one of their toys. In the end, they decided that from then on they would only be allowed to play with their own individual toys.

They had so many toys and things that they agreed to spend the next day sorting out which toy belonged to whom. So the next day each brother got to work, making a pile of his own things. When they had finished doing the big toys it was time to sort the little stuff. However, they had already taken so long that it was time for bed, so they left the small toys for the next day. The same thing happened the next day, because they had started dividing up parts of the house.

Day after day it was the same story. They were spending their whole time deciding what, among all kinds of things, belonged to either one of them.

Anything would set them off: seeing an animal, a tree, or even a stone. In the end, they had accumulated two complete mountains of stuff which had to be kept out in front of the house.

As the years passed, nothing changed: every morning they would meet up to argue about which things belonged to whom. They were getting older, and everyone now knew them as "the grumpy old men". No one had ever seen them smile.

That was, until one morning they went out and found that their two mountains of stuff had been totally mixed up together. Someone had been there, mixing their things up! After all that time and effort they had spent to separate everything!

Furious, the brothers tried to find who had done it. Soon they found a pair of children playing on the other side of the mountains of stuff. They were happily playing together, picking everything up, careless of whether they were mixing it all together. They looked really happy, enjoying themselves to the max.
Seeing the children so happy, the two grumpy old brothers realised how foolish they had been for so many years. They had given up playing with anything, instead spending their whole lives arguing over what was theirs to play with. How sad they felt, for spending their lives in anger. At the same time, though, they were happy to have finally realised their foolishness.

They spent that day, and the rest of their days, playing together with those two children, mixing everything up, and sharing it all. People even stopped calling them the grumpy old men. Now people called them the 'Big Kids'.

If we spend more time worrying about what is ours, instead of sharing and using it, we all lose out.

A Spider in the Museum

Once upon a time, there was a painting spider, one of those artistic species of spider, that live in the basements of museums and galleries. They live there alongside paintings left and forgotten for years; certainly a suitable place to spin the most impressive of webs. Our spider spun the best webs in the whole museum, and his house was really spectacular. All his efforts went into looking after the web, which he considered to be the most valuable in the world.

However, as time went on, the museum set about reorganising its paintings, and it started making space upstairs to put some of the basement paintings on display. Many of the basement spiders realised what was happening, and were cautious about it, but our spider paid it no mind:
-"Doesn't matter,"
he would say,
-"it'll just be a few paintings."
More and more paintings were removed from the basement, but the spider carried on reinforcing his web,
-"Where am I going to find a better place than this?"
he would say.

That was, until early one morning when, too quick for him to react, they took his own painting, along with the spider and his web. The spider realised that just for not having wanted to lose his web, he was now going to end up in the exhibition room.

In an act of strength and decisiveness, he chose to abandon his magnificent web, the web he had worked his whole life to build up. And it's a good job he did so, because that way he saved himself from the insect killer they were spraying on the paintings up in the exhibition room.

In his escape, after overcoming many difficulties, the spider ended up in a secluded little garden, where he found such a quiet corner that there he was able to spin an even better web, and became a much happier spider.

Things change, and we have to adapt to this and make the most of the new opportunities this brings; even when that means renouncing what we already have.

The Lion’s Tail

In a small village there lived a boy called Leo. He was a small, slim kid, and he lived forever in fear because some boys from a neighboring village would harass poor Leo and try to have fun at his expense.
One day, a young wizard was passing by the village and saw Leo being made fun of. When the other boys left, the wizard went over to Leo and gave him a beautiful lion’s tail, along with a small tie that allowed Leo to hang the lion’s tail from his belt.

-“It’s a magic tail. When the person wearing it acts bravely, he or she will turn into a ferocious lion.”
Having seen the young wizard’s powers some days earlier during his act, Leo didn’t doubt his words, and from that time on he wore the lion’s tail hanging from his belt, hoping that the horrible kids would turn up so he could teach them a good lesson.

But when the boys came along, Leo was scared and he tried to run away. However, they soon caught him up and surrounded him. The usual jokes and pushing started, then Leo felt the lion’s tail hanging from his belt. Then, summoning up all his courage, Leo tensed his body, made two fists, and looked up, fixedly into the eyes of each of the boys, and with all the calmness and ferocity in the World, he promised that if they didn’t leave him alone at that instant one of them - even if it were only one – would regret it for ever… today, tomorrow, and any other day. He kept looking them in the eye, with his hardest expression, ready to do what he had promised.

Leo felt goosebumps all over. This must be the sign that he was turning into a lion, because the looks on the boys’ faces were definitely changing. They all took a step back, looked at each other, and finally ran off. Leo wanted to take off after them and give them a good beating with his new body, but when he tried to move, he felt his legs were short and just normal, so he had to abandon the idea.

Not far off, the wizard observed, smiling. He ran over to Leo. Leo was very happy, though a bit disappointed that his new lion body had lasted only a short time, and he hadn’t managed to fight them.
-“You wouldn’t have been able to anyway,”
the wizard told him,
-“no one fights with lions, because simply from seeing them, and knowing how brave and ferocious they are, everyone runs away. Have you ever seen a lion fighting?"

It was true. Leo couldn’t remember ever having seen a lion fighting. Leo became filled with thought, looking at the lion’s tail. And he understood everything. There had been no magic, no transformation, no nothing. What happened was that a good friend had shown him that bullies and other cowardly animals never dare to confront a truly brave boy.

A brave attitude is one of the best remedies for abuse and harassment.

The Island of Two Sides

The Mokoko tribe lived on the wrong side of the island of two faces. The two sides, separated by a great cliff, were like night and day. The good side was watered by rivers and was filled with trees, flowers, birds and easy and abundant food, while on the wrong side there was hardly any water or plants, and wild beasts crowded together. The Mokoko had the misfortune of having always lived there, with no way to cross to the other side. Their life was hard and difficult: they hardly had food and drink for everyone and they lived in permanent terror of the beasts, who would regularly come and eat some tribe member.

Legend told that some of their ancestors had been able to cross with just the help of a small pole, but for many years not a single tree had grown that would be strong enough to make such a pole, so few Mokoko believed this was possible, and they had become accustomed and resigned to their difficult, resigned life, suffering hunger and dreaming of not ending up as some peckish beast's dinner.

But nature had it that, precisely along the edge of the cliff separating the two sides of the island, a skinny but strong tree grew, with which they could build two poles. The feeling of anticipation was enormous and there was no doubt among the tribe as to whom they would choose to use the poles: the great chief and the witch doctor.

But when the two of them were given their opportunity to make the jump, they felt so afraid that they didn't dared to: they thought that the pole could break, or it would not be long enough, or that something would go wrong during the jump ... and they put so much energy into these thoughts that the resulting fear caused them to give in. And when they saw that this could lead them to being teased and taunted, they decided to invent some old stories and legends about failed jumps to the other side. And they told so many of these tales and they spread so much that there was no Mokoko who did not know how reckless and foolish you would have to be to even attempt the jump. And there lay the poles, available to anyone wanting to use them, but abandoned by all, because taking up one of these poles had become, by dint of repetition, the most unbecoming thing a Mokoko could do. It was a betrayal of the values of suffering and resistance which so distinguished the tribe.

But into that tribe were born Naru and Ariki, a pair of young hearts truly wanting a different life and, encouraged by the strength of their love, one day decided to take up the poles. Nobody stopped them, but everyone did try to discourage them, trying to convincing them of the dangers of jumping, using a thousand explanations.
-"And what if what they say is true?"
wondered the young Naru.
-"Don’t' worry. Why do the talk so much about a leap they've never done? I too am a bit scared, but it doesn't look so difficult,"
replied Ariki, ever determined.
-"But if it goes wrong, it would be a terrible end,"
continued Naru, undecided.
-"Perhaps the jump will go badly, and perhaps not. But staying forever on this side of the island surely won't work out well either. Do you know of anyone whose death did not come from being either eaten by the wild beasts or from famine? That too is a terrible end, although it still seems far away to us."
-"You're right, Ariki. And if we wait much longer we won't have the strength to make the leap ... Let's do it tomorrow."

And on the next day, Naru and Ariki jumped to the good side of the island. When taking up the poles, taking their run up, while feeling their desire, the fear hardly allowed them to breathe. And while flying through the air, helpless and without support, they felt that something surely must have gone wrong and certain death awaited them. But when they landed on the other side of the island and happily hugged each other, they thought the jump really hadn't been so bad after all.

And as they ran away to discover their new life, behind them they could hear, like a whispering choir:
-"It was just luck."
-"Well… maybe tomorrow."
-"What a terrible jump! Had it not been for the pole ..."
And Naru and Ariki understood why so few people took the leap: because on the bad side of the island you only ever heard the resigned voices of people without dreams, people filled with fear and despair, people who would never jump ...

We should always try to improve, not giving in to the kind of fear shown in people who have never attempted what they want to do in life. Specially designed for those thinking of starting something new.

Balloon Acrobatics

The day finally arrived. It was time for the great acrobatic balloon competition. Every insect in the garden had been training hard, and now they were preparing to begin their routines. The balloon competitions were always something really special, since they could only happen after the children of the house had had some big party. There was only a short window of opportunity too, before the parents came round to collect up the balloons.
Each time, the flying insects were favourites to win, because they could grab the balloon strings and fly off in all directions, creating all sorts of patterns in the air. However, on this occasion there were some rather unusual insects taking part: a group of ants. Of course, no one expected that they'd do anything special. They were so light that no ant had ever bothered to take part, but it was quite impressive to see all the ants all perfectly organised and prepared.
So the competition began, and the different insects took their turns, performing beautiful manoeuvres with the balloons. As always, the butterfly and the firefly left everyone amazed with their twist and turns, and their wonderful colours. When it was time for the ants to perform, it seemed like the competition had already been decided.

For the first time in living memory, the ants shared just one balloon between them, and one by one they climbed up the balloon string; forming a thin black thread of ants. When all the string was covered, the last ant climbed over his teammates to reach the balloon. Once there, he climbed onto the top of the balloon.
This strange spectacle attracted everyone's curiosity, and they were just about to witness the most important moment: the ant opened his jaws as wide as he could... and then he stabbed the balloon with all his might!

The result was tremendous! The balloon began blowing out its air, flying madly about, here and there, doing a thousand pirouettes, while the perfectly synchronised ants, made all kinds of beautiful shapes out of the string.

Of course, that acrobatic flight ended with quite a hard landing, but it didn't matter. The originality and teamwork of the ant performance was so impressive that the crowd didn't even have to vote for there to be a winner.

From then on, in that garden, everyone understood how much could be achieved by working together. In the years to come, the balloon competitions were full of displays carried out by teams, and they put on some wonderful routines; something those individual insects could never have achieved on their own.
If you work together in a team you can achieve much more than you could have done on your own

20 October, 2012

Teary Tidu

Teary Tidu was a boy with a special ability: he could make himself cry in less than a second. If he disliked something, or things became difficult, or someone contradicted him, Teary Tidu would not hesitate to put on a pitiful face and set great big tears running down his cheeks. In this way he managed to get practically everything he wanted, because no one could resist the pity inspired by his tearful little face.

But one day, Teary Tidu met Pipo. Pipo was asking people in the street for some change, in return for him helping them in any way he could. Pipo was very poor; he had no home and no family, so he made a living however he could. Even so, Pipo always had the biggest of smiles on his face.

 Tidu took to Pipo, so he decided to help him out in making some money. He went over next to Pipo, took off his hat, put it face-up on the ground, and started crying with the most pitiful of expressions.
Instant success! In a few minutes,  Tidu’s hat was full of coins and sweets, but when  Tidu offered all this to Pipo, Pipo declined.
-“I prefer deserving what I receive,”
answered Pipo with his usual smile,
-“It’s much more fun making an effort to get things. You know what? Today I’ve washed a dog, I’ve collected hundreds of nails with a magnet, tidied a wardrobe full of paintings, accompanied a blind old lady to the park.. maybe I haven’t gotten everything I’ve wanted, but I’ve done a load of interesting things. And how about you? How have things been for you?”

Teary Tidu didn’t answer; he just walked sadly away.  Tidu had gotten everything he wanted, but he’d done practically nothing of interest the whole day. He hadn’t even enjoyed himself, what with spending almost all his time crying.

That evening, having returned home,  Tidu requested a delicious cake for his supper. When his mother said no,  Tidu tried to cry but, remembering Pipo and how joyful he was, and seeing his own reflection in the mirror,  Tidu couldn’t do it. Instead, he asked himself how could use the situation to do something interesting.
So he tried to get the cake in some other way. To the joy and surprise of his parents,  Tidu spent the whole evening helping his mother to tidy and label the pantry, water the plants and organise the library books.
In the end there was no cake. But that wasn’t so bad, because  Tidu discovered it had been much more fun doing all those things that evening rather than just sitting crying to get a piece of cake that, in the end, wouldn’t have been worth it.

Children who cry to get what they want are missing out on a lot of great stuff.

23 September, 2012

The Incredible Black Rain

Gus Grumplings was never happy with anything. He had lots of friends, and parents who loved him dearly, but all Gus could think about was what he didn't have, or things he did have which he was unhappy with. If someone gave him a car, it would be too big or too slow. If he went to the zoo, he'd come back disappointed because they hadn't let him feed the lions. If he played football with his friends, he would complain, saying there were too many of them for just one ball...

What caught Gus unaware was Chuckles the prankster cloud. One day, Chuckles was drifting past, and heard all of Gus's complaining. Chuckles wafted over to see. When the cloud was right above Gus, he started dropping heavy black rain on him. That was Chuckles' favourite trick to play on grumpy little kids.
Gus wasn't at all impressed by this new development; it just made him complain even more. He was even angrier after he realised that the cloud was following him.

Well, this carried on for almost a week. Gus couldn't get away from the cloud, and he got more and more infuriated.

Gus had a little friend, a happy and generous girl called Gladys. Gladys was the only one who had been willing to hang around with Gus during all those black, rainy days. All the other children had run off to avoid getting soaked and ending up completely black.

One day, when Gus was at the end of his tether, she said to him: "Cheer up! What you should realise is that you're the only one of us who has his very own cloud, and even better, its rain is black! We could play some fun games with a cloud like this, don't you reckon?" As Gladys was his only company these days, and he didn't want her to leave as the others had, Gus reluctantly agreed.

Gladys took him to the swimming pool, and left him there until all the pool water was black. Then she went and got other kids. They came and played in the pool. The water being black meant they could play hide and seek! Grudgingly, Gus had to admit it had been a lot of fun, but what was even more fun was playing Wet the Cat.

Gus would find cats and run alongside them. When the cats felt themselves getting wet they would jump about in the craziest way, and run off at top speed, with funny looks on their faces. Before long, all the children in town had gathered around Gus, thinking up new games they could play using the cloud.

For the first time ever, Gus started to see the positive side of things; even things which, at first, had seemed so bad. Chuckles, the prankster cloud, thought that he could now leave; his work had been done. But, before leaving, he gave Gus two days of multicoloured rain, with which the children invented the most fun games ever.

When Chuckles finally left, Gus didn't complain. Now he knew to focus on the good in life, and the good thing about Chuckles' departure was that no longer was Gus soaking wet all day. Now he could go and do dry things, and that's exactly what he did.

Everything has its good and bad side. We are happiest when we look for the good in all things.

The Tickling Scales

One day, in the jungle, a set of bathroom scales appeared. The animals played with it for quite some time until a parrot who had escaped from the zoo explained to them how it worked. All the animals took turns to weigh themselves. At first this was a big game; every day each animal would see how much weight they had gained or lost. However, before long, many animals began to obsess about their weight. The first thing they would do each day would be to run to the scales, weigh themselves, and spend the rest of the day with a grumpy expression on their faces. This because, no matter what the scales said, the animals always weighed the same, in other words: "more than they wanted to".

As the months passed, the scales began to suffer the animals’ disapproval. The scales were regularly kicked, or given poisonous looks. One day, the scales decided that from the following morning things would have to change.

That morning, the first to run to weigh itself was the zebra. However, as soon as it stepped onto the scales, the scales began tickling the zebra’s hooves. Soon the scales found just the right spot, and the zebra couldn’t stop giggling. This was so much fun for the zebra that from that day on it no longer worried about its weight, and off it went to happily eat its breakfast for the first time in ages. The same happened to whoever went to weigh themselves that day... so that, before long, no one was worried any longer about their weight. Rather, they all commented on how much fun the scales and its tickling were.

As the months and the years passed, the scales stopped reading weight and began reading good humour and optimism instead. Soon everyone happily discovered that this was a much better indicator of beauty and a person’s value. Finally, in the jungle everyone forgot about that antiquated and old-fashioned measurement known as the kilo.

Obsession with weight and physical appearance is a sure way to put yourself in a bad mood and create health problems.

The Frog who Jumped Through Windows

There was once a frog who lived in a pond next to an abandoned palace. Occasionally a traveling witch would come and stay in the palace. One day, the frog decided to go and have a look at the abandoned palace. He hopped over and jumped up to an old window frame. Instead of being filled with glass, the window frame was filled with what looked like a soap bubble. The frog was amused and wanted to pop the bubble by jumping through it. However, this was no soap bubble; it was the remains of a magic potion. As the frog jumped through it he found himself entering a very different place.

It looked like he was entering a very rich person’s house. The place smelt nice and was heated. But that didn’t last very long: a dog spotted the frog and was about to catch him. Fortunately, with three great leaps, the frog managed to jump back out of the window… only to find himself now in a wonderful pond, full of frogs and toads of great beauty. The pond had an abundance of flies, and the frogs and toads croaked happily all day long. Our frog was neither handsome nor ugly; he was just pretty normal looking. This meant he wasn’t greatly welcomed by the other frogs and toads, but he was enjoying himself so much that this didn’t matter much to him. He lived there for many days, but one night a group of toads who were sick of the frog’s common appearance, grabbed him while sleeping and threw him back through the window.

The frog woke up in a dark, dilapidated, cold and uncomfortable bedroom. There was a young boy there, and the boy welcomed the frog with great happiness. Soon the boy and the frog were inseparable companions. The boy looked after him as best he could; he even caught flies for the frog. However, the frog couldn’t help thinking about all the comforts of the wonderful pond he had experienced. One night, when the cold was worsening, and the firewood had run out, the frog hopped to the window and leapt out. He came out at the North Pole!

The frog felt like he was dying of cold, so he quickly jumped back through the window. This time he found himself in a desert, and when he again jumped through the window he was back among the Arctic snows. It didn’t matter how many times he jumped back and forth, he would always come out at either the North Pole or the desert. While he was changing from one place to the other he remembered his good master, the poor boy, and how he, the frog, had been so ungrateful to the boy, and so loving of his own comfort, and how this had meant him ending up in this situation, half dead from hunger, and jumping from the worst of cold to the most searing heat.

We should focus more on what we have than what we don’t, as senseless ambition can lead to us losing everything.

16 September, 2012

The Bad Neighbours

There was once a man who went out to look for a job. As he was passing his neighbour's house, an important piece of paper fell out of the man's pocket.

His neighbour happened to be looking out the window. He saw the piece of paper fall, and he thought: "What a disgrace! That guy deliberately let that fall out of his pocket. He's trying to mess up the front of my house, and he's being sneaky about it, too!"

But instead of going out and saying something, the neighbour planned his revenge.
That night, he took his waste-paper basket and went to the man's house. The first man also happened to be looking out the window, and saw what happened. Later, when he was picking up the papers which had been dumped on his porch, he found the important piece of paper that he had lost. It was torn into dozens of pieces. He thought that his neighbour had not only picked his pocket, but had had the cheek to mess up his doorway with rubbish.

He didn't want to say anything. Instead, he started plotting his revenge. That night he phoned a farmer to make an order of ten pigs and a hundred ducks. He asked that they be delivered to his neighbour's house.
Of course, the next day, his neighbour had quite a bit of trouble trying to rid himself of so many animals and their accompanying pong.

Sure that this had been a dastardly trick pulled by his neighbour, as soon as the second man had gotten rid of the pigs and ducks, he again started planning his revenge.
And so it went on.

They continued trying to get their own back on each other, and each time their acts of revenge got bigger and more ridiculous. The dropping of that single piece of paper ended up invoking a rock band, a fire siren, the driving of a lorry into a garden fence, the throwing of a hail of stones at windows, the firing of a canon, and finally the dropping of a bomb which destroyed both men's houses.

Both ended up in a hospital, and had to spend quite some time sharing a room there. At first they refused to speak to each other, but, one day, tired of the silence, they got to talking. As time passed, they became friends, until one day they finally dared discuss the piece of paper incident. They realised that it had all been a misunderstanding, and that if they had talked to each other on the first occasion - instead of jumping to conclusions about bad intentions - then none of this would have happened. Even better, they would still have their houses.

However, in the end, the fact that they were talking, and had become friends, helped them greatly to recover from their wounds, and to work together to rebuild their houses.

We should not guess or imagine the intentions of others. Talking is how we come to understand others, and clear up a great many problems

08 September, 2012

The Math Dunce

That year, in the local school, there was a new Math teacher, as well as some new pupils. One of the new kids was the stupidest child anyone had ever seen. It made no difference how quickly or how slowly they tried explaining numbers to him; he would always end up saying something enormously dumb. Like two plus two was five, seven times three was twenty-seven, or a triangle had thirty corners...

Before this boy arrived, Maths lessons had been the most boring of all. Now they were great fun. Encouraged by the new teacher, the children would listen to the pieces of nonsense spouted by the new kid, and they would have to correct his mistakes.

They all wanted to be the first to find his mistakes, and then think up the most original ways to explain them. To do this they used all kinds of stuff: sweets, playing cards, oranges, paper planes...
It didn't seem like any of this bothered the new kid.

However, little Lewis was sure that it was bound to make him feel sad inside.
So, one day, he decided to follow the new kid home after school; Lewis was sure he would see him crying.
On leaving school, the new kid walked a few minutes to a local park, and there he waited for a while, until someone came along to meet him...

It was the new teacher!
The teacher gave the new kid a hug, and off they went, hand in hand. Following from a distance, Lewis could hear they were talking about Math.
And that stupid new kid knew everything about it, much more than anyone in the class!

If you adopt a creative and fun strategy, you can make learning even the most boring subject enjoyable

Chess of a Thousand Colours

Brian Bristles was an artistic kind of a boy. He looked at everything as though it were a beautiful painting, and, in the blink of an eye, he could paint anything at all, filling it with magic and colour.
One day, Brian and his grandfather went to spend a weekend at the palace of the Marquis of Castling. The Marquis was an old friend of Brian's grandfather; and was a very famous chess player. When they arrived, Brian went into a large room and found a lovely chess set, totally hand carved, and with its own marble table which acted as the board. This chess set caught Brian's artistic eye. However, he felt that these pieces were too uniform. Along with the blacks and whites of the board, it amounted to rather a bland set.

So, that night, - paint box in hand - he tiptoed from his room to the chess room. There he spent the night painting each piece in the most colourful way. When the pieces were done, he painted a beautiful scene on the marble chessboard. Brian hoped to use his art to really surprise his grandfather and the Marquis.
However, the next morning, when the Marquis discovered that his pieces had been covered in a thousand colours, instead of being pleased, he was very angry. That afternoon he had a very important match to play. However lovely all those colours were, it would be impossible to play chess without being able to know which pieces were which; and even more difficult now that the squares of the board were covered with a painting.

Brian's grandfather explained to him that even the loveliest, most colourful things need some sense of order to them. The boy felt very hurt, remembering how many times his paintings had annoyed people...
But Brian Bristles was a true artist, and he wasn't about to give up easily.

A little while later he went to his grandfather and the Marquis, and asked their permission to rectify what he had done to the chess set. Knowing how ingeniously artistic the boy was, they decided to give him a chance, so Brian went off and spent hours alone with his paints.
When he was finished, shortly before the match was about to begin, he called for the two men and showed them his work.
What a beautiful chess set it now was!

Now there were two perfectly recognisable teams; that of night and that of day. On one side, the board and the pieces had been decorated with dozens of stars and moons of all sizes and colours. On the other side the decorations were suns, clouds, and rainbows. It was done so well that the whole set had an unmatchable sense of order and harmony.

Brian understood that a little order had been missing, but he had now managed to impose some without giving up any colour. The two grown-ups looked at the paintings and smiled. It was obvious that Brian Bristles would become a great artist.

 All things require a minimum of order, although that doesn’t prevent the order from being applied with imagination.

The Evil Millisphore

Once upon a time there was a villain who was so thoroughly evil that he devised a plan to destroy every important thing in the world. His name was Millisphore, and, helped by his great machines and inventions, he managed to ruin everything. After that, he created a potion that robbed people of their desire to work. He also managed to infect everyone with such a smelly gas that they preferred to stay at home rather than go out and risk meeting anyone.

When things had reached the point where the entire world had been spoilt, Millisphore saw that only one more thing stood in his way in his desire for complete domination, and this one thing was the family. Despite all his evil inventions, his potions and his gases, it seemed that families were still sticking together. What bothered him most was that all the families were resisting him, no matter how many people were in each one, where they lived, or how they spent their time.

He tried making the houses smaller, but the families just lived closer together in less space. He also destroyed food, but the families just shared what little they had. And so he continued with his wicked deeds against the last thing on the whole planet that still resisted him, but nothing was working.

Finally he discovered the secret to the strength of every family: they loved each other, and there was no way to change that. Though he tried to invent something to destroy this love, Millisphore never managed it. Sad and annoyed at not having managed to dominate the world, he gave up and let everything return to normality.
The evil Millisphore ended up so depressed that all he could think of to do was go crying to his parents’ house and tell them what had happened. And, despite all the wicked deeds he had done, his parents ran out to embrace him. They forgave him, and encouraged him to be good.

And so it is that even the family of the most wicked will love him and forgive him anything! And aren’t we fortunate to have a family?

The family has such strength because it is united by love, and this is why the family accepts and forgives a thousand times.

Two Kinds of Justice

A Greek philosopher was walking along one day, thinking about things, when he saw two very tall women towering away in the distance; they were the size of several men placed one on top of another. The philosopher, as wise as he was fearful, ran to hide behind some bushes, intending to listen to their conversation. The huge women came and sat nearby, but before they could start speaking the King's youngest son appeared. He was bleeding from one ear and shouted pleadingly towards the women:
-"Justice! I want justice! That villain cut my ear!"

He pointed to another boy, his younger brother, who arrived wielding a bloody sword.
-"We will be delighted to give you justice, young Prince,"
replied the two women,
-"That's why we are the goddesses of justice. Just choose which of the two of us you would prefer to help you."
-"What's the difference?"
the victim asked,
-"What would each of you do?"
said one of the goddesses, who looked the more weak and delicate,
-"will ask your brother what was the cause of his action, and I will listen to his explanation. Then I will oblige him to protect your other ear with his life, and to make you the most beautiful helmet to cover your scar and to be your ears when you need it."
-" I, for my part,"
said the other goddess.

-"will not let him go unpunished for his action. I will punish him with a hundred lashes and one year of imprisonment, and he must compensate you for your pain with a thousand gold coins. And I will give you the sword and you can choose if you're able to keep the ear or, on the contrary, you want both ears to end up on the ground. Well, what is your decision? Who do you want to apply justice for the offense?"
The Prince looked at the two goddesses. Then he put his hand to the wound, and on touching it his face gave a gesture of undeniable pain, which ended with a look of anger and affection for his brother. And in a firm voice, addressing the second of the goddesses he gave his answer.

-"I'd rather it was you who helps me. I love him, but it would be unfair if my brother doesn't receive his punishment."
And so, from his hiding place in the bushes, the philosopher saw the culprit get his comeuppance, and watched how the older brother was content to make a small wound on his brother's ear, without seriously damaging it.

A while passed and the Princes had left, one without an ear and the other served justice, and the philosopher was still in hiding when the least expected thing happened. In front of his eyes, the second of the goddesses changed her clothes and took her true form. She wasn't a goddess at all, but the powerful Aries, the god of war. Aries bid goodbye to his companion, with a mischievous smile:
-"I've done it again, dear Themis. Your friends, mankind, can barely distinguish between your righteousness and my revenge. Bwahahaha! I will prepare my weapons, a new war between brothers is approaching ... ha, ha, ha, ha."
When Aries had left and the philosopher was trying to quietly make off, the goddess spoke aloud:
-"Tell me, good philosopher, would you have known how to choose correctly? Did you know how to distinguish between the past and the future?"
And with that strange greeting began many long and friendly talks. And that's how, from the very hand of the goddess of justice, the philosopher learned that true justice lies in improving the future, moving it away from past wrongs, while false justice and vengeance is incapable of forgiving and forgetting past wrongs, and doing so fixes the future, it always ending up being just as bad.

True justice requires looking to the future and using compassion so as not to turn into just another form of vengeance.

A Resentful Thumb

There was once a hand whose fingers were great friends. The owner of this hand started a dangerous job and, despite the care he gave the rest of the fingers, the thumb always came off worse, with lots of cuts and bruises.

At first, the other fingers asked the thumb's forgiveness for their clumsiness, and the thumb did indeed forgive them. However, this happened so many times that, one day, the thumb decided to forgive the fingers no more. He stretched himself away from the fingers, and wanted nothing to do with them.
Initially, the thumb looked dignified, straight, rigid and aloof. However, that kind of position was forced and ridiculous. The owner even had to keep that hand in his pocket, and there the fingers suffered in darkness and obscurity.

Finally, the thumb understood that it had all been his fault, and he asked the fingers' forgiveness, fearful that they would reject him. On the contrary, the fingers easily forgave him, because they - better than anyone - knew that we all make mistakes. Friends once again, all five of them worked together to prove to the owner that they were perfectly well again. Before long, they returned to the light again, this time well aware that they should always forgive each other, and thus avoid ending up inside a gloomy and depressing pocket.

There is no limit beyond which we should stop practicing forgiveness.

Speedy Snails

“Good day, Lady and Gentle-Snails! This is Trevor Slug, your favourite commentator, speaking from the greatest snail-racing stadium of them all, the lettuce patch of Auntie Donna! Ahead of us we have what should be an unforgettable day, in which the great Trailblazer will try to beat, for the fifth time, his own world speed record...
Here he is now, entering the arena, doing his famous warm-up exercises... The participants take their places at the starting line, and the race begins!... As always, Trailblazer takes a few centimetres lead and continues putting daylight between himself and the competition... his progress is spectacular; he has taken less than ten minutes to cover the first metre, and he’s approaching the finishing line way out in front...
Just a moment! What is that?!"........"Attention all spectators! These are the emergency services speaking to you on the PA system... We have an emergency, a bird has entered Auntie Donna’s vegetable patch! Everyone run and hide under the nearest lettuce leaf.. we repeat, everyone run and hide under the nearest lettuce leaf!
ssshhh.... hello, if you are wondering, this is Trevor Slug, reporting the emergency in whispers, live from under a lettuce leaf. Practically all the snails are safe, but Trailblazer is still out on the racetrack! He seems to have great confidence that his lightning speed will allow him to escape... there we see him, saluting the cameras with cheerful gestures, still determined to beat his record... Oh no!!
Ladies and gents, a great tragedy has just occurred. The incredible reflexes and speed of Trailblazer were just not enough to help him escape a high velocity bird swoop. This is, without doubt, a great calamity for the sport of snail-racing. We can still see, with our own antennae, the bird flying away with our champion in its claws...
But wait!, the bird has let Trailblazer escape! He's falling... Incredible! He has fallen right by me! Run, champion, run! Come over here and hide!
This is just spectacular! We have kept silent for several minutes, and have been able to witness, live and close-up, Trailblazer's incredible adventure. Only by a matter of millimetres did he escape certain death. Congratulations, champ! Do you have anything to say to everyone watching?"
"Yes, Trevor. I have a fear of death, and didn't realise that - despite being the fastest snail ever - I could never hope to match the speed of a bird. To tell you the truth, I was a bit lucky. My shell is slightly damaged, but… I've learnt a good lesson in humility!"
"That's right, Trailblazer. We hope that everyone watching will have learned that to be good at something doesn't make us invincible...
Well, folks, here we're going to have to bring the program to an end. We hope you have enjoyed witnessing this historic moment, and don't forget....
Eat the lettuce when you wan to, there's too much for Aunt Donna!

Being good at something doesn’t make us invulnerable, or better people. What improves us is knowing how best to use our gifts.

22 August, 2012

Grandfather’s Coins

Every month, Julia and her cousins would go for the big family meal at their grandparents' house. They would always wait excitedly for the moment their grandfather would give them a few coins, "so you can buy yourself something." Then all the children would run off to buy chewing gum, lollies, or wine gums. The grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents commented that, behaving like this, the children would never learn to manage their money. So they proposed a special test, in which the children would have to show, over the course of a year, just what they could manage to get with those few coins.
Some of the children thought that they would save their money, but Ruben and Nico, the two smallest kids, paid no attention, and they continued spending it all on sweets. Every time, they would show off their sweets in front of the other children, laughing and making fun of their cousins. They made Clara and Joe so angry that these two could no longer stand to keep saving their money. They joined Ruben and Nico in spending whatever they had, as soon as possible, on sweets.
Monty was a clever boy, and he decided to start managing his money by exchanging it: buying and selling things, or betting it with other children, in card games. Soon he had surprised the whole family. He had accumulated a lot of money for little effort. The way he was going, he would end up almost a rich man. However, Monty was not being very careful, and he got involved in more and more risky deals. A few months later he hadn't a single penny left, after placing a losing bet on a horse race.
Alex, on the other hand, had a will of iron. He saved and saved all the money he was given, wanting to win the competition, and at the end of the year he had collected more money than anyone. Even better, with so much money, he managed to buy sweets at a reduced price, so that on the day of the competition he was presented with enough sweets for much more than a year. And even then, he still had enough left over for a toy. He was the clear winner, and the rest of his cousins learnt from him the advantages of knowing how to save and how to wait.
There was also Julia. Poor Julia didn't enjoy the day of the competition, because even though she had had a wonderful secret plan, she had spent her money without giving her plan enough time to work. However, she was so sure that her plan was a good one, that she decided to carry on with it, and maybe change the expressions on her relatives' faces, who had seemed to be saying "What a disaster that girl is. She couldn't manage to save anything."
When she was about to complete the second year of her plan, Julia surprised everyone by turning up at the grandparents' house with a violin and a lot of money. What was even more impressive was hearing her play. She did it really well.
Everyone knew that Julia adored the violin, even though the family couldn't afford to pay for her to have lessons. So Julia had got to know a poor violinist who played in the park, and she offered him all the coins her grandfather had given her, if he would teach her how to play. Although it wasn't much money, on seeing Julia's excitement, the violinist agreed, and he taught her happily for months. Julia showed so much desire and interest that a little after a year the violinist loaned her a violin so they could play together in the park, as a duo. They were so successful that gradually she managed to buy her own violin, with quite a bit of money to spare.
From then on, the whole family helped her, and she became a very famous violinist.
And she would always tell people how it was possible, with just a few coins well spent, to make your wildest dreams a reality.

A little money well spent can achieve a lot more than we had imagined, especially if it helps us to learn and develop ourselves.

20 August, 2012

The Opera Singer

One day, a train was approaching the small town of Cheekyville. On the train was a strange guy with a big suitcase. He was called William Warbler - the man, not the suitcase - and he looked very common indeed. What made him most unusual, though, was the fact that whenever he needed to communicate he did it by singing opera. It didn't matter to William whether it was simply a matter of answering a brief greeting, like 'good day'. He would clear his voice and respond,
"Gooood dayyy to youuuuuuuu..... tooOOOO!"

It wouldn't be unfair to say that almost everyone considered William Warbler a massive pain in the neck. No one could get a normal, spoken, word out of him. And, as no one knew how he made his living - and he lived quite simply, always wearing his same old second-hand suit - they often treated him with disdain.
They made fun of his singing, calling him 'Don No One', 'Poor-Rotti', and 'Lazy Miserables'. William had been in Cheekyville for some years, when, one day, a rumour spread round town like wildfire: William had secured a role in a very important opera in the nation's capital, and there were posters everywhere advertising the event. Everyone in the capital went to see it, and it was a great success. At the end of its run - to everyone in Cheekyville's surprise - when William was being interviewed by reporters, he answered their questions by speaking rather than singing. And he did it with great courtesy, and with a clears and pleasant voice.

From that day, William gave up singing at all hours. Now he did it only during his stage appearances and world tours. Some people suspected why he had changed, but others still had no idea, and continued believing him to be somewhat mad. They wouldn't have thought so if they had seen what William kept in his big suitcase. It was a large stone, with a hand-carved message on it.

The message said: "Practice, my boy. Practice every second, for you never know when your chance will come."
Little did people realise that he only got the role in the opera because the director had heard William singing while out buying a newspaper.

Moral :- Success comes as a result of hard work and constant effort.

18 August, 2012

The Fairy and the Shadow

A long, long time ago, before people and their cities filled the Earth, even before many things even had a name, there was a mysterious place that was guarded by the Fairy of the Lake. Fair and generous, each of her followers were ever willing to serve her. There was a time in which some evil beings threatened the lake and its surrounding forests, and the fairy’s followers joined her on a dangerous journey across rivers, swamps and deserts in search of the Crystal Stone, their only hope of being saved.

The fairy warned them of the dangers and difficulties that lay ahead, of how hard it would be to endure the whole journey, but none of her followers were afraid. They all promised to accompany her to wherever it was needed, and that same day the fairy and her fifty most loyal followers set out on their journey.
As it turned out, the voyage was even harder and more terrible than the fairy had imagined and warned them about. They were met by terrifying beasts. They had to march day and night, lost in deserts, hungry and thirsty. Faced by such adversity, many followers lost heart and abandoned the quest. Finally, only one remained, and his name was Shadow.

Shadow was by no means the bravest, he was not the best fighter, nor was he the most quick-witted or the most fun. However, what he did do was stay loyal to the fairy, right to the very end. Whenever the fairy asked Shadow why he had not done as the others and simply abandoned her, Shadow would always say, ‘I told you I would follow you in spite of all difficulties, and that is what I am doing. I am not going to turn my back on you just because the journey has been hard.’

Thanks to her loyal Shadow, the fairy finally managed to find the Crystal Stone. Unfortunately, there was a monster guarding the stone, and this monster was not about to give up the stone easily. At this, Shadow, in a final act of loyalty, offered himself in exchange for the stone. The monster accepted, and so Shadow spent the rest of his days in the monster’s service.

The powerful magic of the Crystal Stone meant that the fairy could return to the lake and make the evil beings disappear. But every night she would cry at the absence of her loyal Shadow, because from Shadow’s act of self-sacrifice had arisen a love stronger than any other.

And in memory of Shadow, and to show everyone the value of loyalty and commitment, the fairy presented every being on Earth with its own shadow during the day; but when nighttime comes all these shadows travel to the lake, to spend time with the sad fairy, and to try to console her for her loss.

Moral :- The fundamental basis of friendship and love is to remain loyal and committed during times of adversity.

09 August, 2012

The Singing Hippo

Once upon a time, a hippopotamus lived in a river next to a big and solitary tree.
One day, a bird came and nested in the tree. The songs and the flight of the bird caused such envy in the hippo that he couldn't think of anything else. Every day he would lament the fact that he had been born a hippo. This, despite the many times the bird told the hippo he was so lucky to be so big and such a good swimmer.

Finally, the hippo made his mind up that he would come out of the river, climb the tree, go out to perch on a branch, and start singing. However, when he tried to climb the tree it was all too clear that the hippo didn't have wings, nor claws to climb with, and neither could he hop.

Realising that he would never manage it, he angrily rammed his whole weight against the tree until it came crashing to the ground. Then, triumphantly, he stepped onto the leaves of the fallen tree, and began singing.
Unfortunately, hippos can't sing either. All that came from his mouth were horrible noises, and when the other animals heard this they all gathered round to make fun of the hippo standing on the branch of a fallen tree, trying to sing like a bird.

He was so embarrassed by this that he decided to never again regret being a hippo. He also felt bad about having knocked the tree over. He used all his strength to raise the tree back up again, replant it, and look after it until it had completely recovered.

Envying what is natural in others but not in yourself, can drive you to unwise forms of behavior.

Fashion Forest

Once upon a time, there was a forest where all the animals lived happily together. One day a family went to spend the day in the countryside, and one little boy left his socks there. Soon after the family left, a racoon came by, found the socks, and decided to try them on. They fit so well, and he liked them so much, that he wouldn't take them off. He spent his days walking through the forest in his new socks.
All the animals talked about the racoon's new look, and some of them were a bit envious that he was getting so much attention. Before long, in that forest, there began appearing squirrels in shirts, rabbits in boots, moles with hats on, and even a bird wearing underpants!

Doctor Bear, the forest physician, would shake his head, telling people:
-"This can't be good. Animals don't wear clothes; we don't need them."
But no one listened to him, they said he was just old-fashioned, and ignorant of the latest trends.

However, it wasn't long before the first consequences of fashion-fever began to take effect. Several times the squirrel snagged his shirt on tree bark, stopping him in mid-leap, and sending him plummeting to the ground from a great height. The mole tried to fit into his hole without first taking his hat off. He was stuck in that hole all day. One of the birds got in a tangle with the clothes it was wearing, and had to make a crash-landing on some thistles, getting stuck full of thorns. Even the racoon, thanks to his brightly coloured socks, slipped from one of the river rocks and almost drowned.

When the casualties came to see Doctor Bear, he gave them all the same prescription:
-"Off with you, and get rid of those clothes, because one day they’re going to kill you."
Those who listened to the Doctor's advice stopped having accidents. And the animals realised that they didn't need clothes at all. Starting to wear them had been very silly, and they had only done it to make others envious of them, and to get attention.

We often end up doing stupid things just to imitate others or to make others envious

02 July, 2012

The Cow and the Pig

There was once a man who was very rich and very miserly at the same time. The villagers disliked him intensely. One day he said to them, “Either you’re jealous of me or you don’t understand my love of money-God alone knows. But you dislike me; that much I know. When I die, I won’t take anything with me. I will leave it all for others. I will make a will, and I will give everything to charity. Then everyone will be happy.”

Even then people mocked and laughed at him. The rich man said to them, “What is the matter with you?Can’t you wait a few years to see my money go to charity?”

The villagers didn’t believe him. He said, “Do you think I’m immortal? I’ll die like everyone else, and then my money will go to charities.” He couldn’t understand why they didn’t believe him.
One day he went for a walk. All of a sudden it started raining heavily, so he took shelter under a tree. Under this tree he saw a pig and a cow. The pig and the cow entered into conversation, and the man overheard what they were saying.

The pig said to the cow, “How is it that everybody appreciates you and nobody appreciates me? When I die, I provide people with bacon, ham and sausage. People can also use my bristles. I give three or four things, whereas you give only one thing: milk. Why do people appreciate you all the time and not me?”
The cow said to the pig, “Look, I give them milk while I’m alive. They see that I am generous with what I have. But you don’t give them anything while you’re alive. Only after you’re dead do you give ham, bacon and so forth. People don’t believe in the future; they believe in the present. If you give while you are alive, people will appreciate you. It is quite simple.”

From that moment on, the rich man gave all he had to the poor.

25 June, 2012

A Pessimistic Dog

There was once a farmer who devised a competition between his dog and his rabbit. He made a hole in one of his biggest fields, and hid a carrot and a bone in it. He wanted to see which animal would find them first.
The rabbit was very cheerful and optimistic, and he threw himself into looking for the carrot, digging here and there, totally convinced that he would find it. But the dog was pessimistic, and after sniffing around for a bit, he lay down on the ground and began to complain how difficult it was to find one bone in such a big field.

The rabbit dug for hours, and with every new hole the dog complained even more about how difficult this was, even for the rabbit. The rabbit, on the other hand, thought that each hole dug was one hole less that needed digging. When there was no place in the whole field left to dig, the rabbit dug a tunnel to right under where the dog had been lying all that time. There he found the carrot and the bone.

And this is how it was that the dog lost due to his pessimism. Because, thanks to his great instinct, he had already found the right place at the very beginning!

Many of our natural shortfalls can be replaced by a positive attitude and perseverance.

The Ticklish Kid

Pete Sparks was a sensitive boy. So sensitive that even his hair was ticklish. You only had to touch his hair a little bit and he would burst out laughing. And when this ticklish laughter started, no one could make him stop.

So Pete grew up used to strange situations. When his granny’s friends came to visit, he would always end up in stitches because there was never any shortage of little old ladies rubbing his head and saying “How cute!”
Windy days were the worst, with Pete on the ground, paralyzed by laughter whenever the breeze blew on his locks, which, incidentally, were pretty long because at the barber shop no one could manage to cut his hair, due to the non-stop giggling. To see Pete laugh, as well as being great fun, was terribly contagious. When Pete started feeling ticklish, everyone ended up in endless laughter, and they had to just give up whatever they were doing.

As Pete grew up, people started to ban him from certain places. Some activities are serious business, and cannot be done amid gales of laughter. So Pete tried everything to control his ticklishness: he tried wearing a thousand different hats, he used ultra strong hairsprays and gels, he shaved his head, and he even went on a yoga course to see if he could bear the tickling by learning to relax himself.

But nothing worked; it was impossible. He wanted, with all his heart, to just be a normal boy. So, as time went on, he began to feel sad and ill-fated for being different.

This went on until, one day in the street, he met a special clown. The clown was very old and could hardly walk, but when he saw Pete in tears, he went to cheer him up. It didn’t take long to make Pete laugh, and they started to talk. Pete told him about his ticklish problem, and he asked the clown how such an old man could carry on being a clown.

“I have no one to replace me”, said the clown, “and I have a very serious job to do”. Pete looked at him, surprised, and thought “serious? A clown?”, trying to understand what the old man had told him.
“Come, I’ll show you” said the clown.

So the clown took Pete all over the city, to many hospitals, shelters, refuges, schools… All were full of children who were sick, or orphaned, children with very serious problems. But as soon as they saw the clown, their faces changed completely and lit up with a smile. Their short while spent with the clown changed everything for them, but that day was even more special, because in every show Pete’s ticklishness would inevitably make an appearance, and his contagious laughter would end up with the kids laid on the floor, dying with laughter.

When the visit came to an end, the old clown winked at Pete and said “Now do you see what a serious job it is? That’s why I can’t retire, even at my age”.

“It’s true,” answered Pete, smiling and returning the wink, “not everyone could do it, you have to have a special gift for laughter. And that’s so hard to find”. This said, the wind again set off his ticklishness and his laughter.

And that is how Pete became a clown, and replaced the special old man. And from that day onward, the fact that Pete was different actually made him happy, thanks to his special gift.

Everything which makes us different makes us, at the same time, special, and there are always ways to benefit from these gifts