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.