Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Surprising Our "Nature" Can Be

I went to the 1.001 Friday Nights of Storytelling last week for the first time in a while and brought my new family. After a lively post-potluck dinner conversation about running the weekly sessions, Dan Yashinsky began the evening. Once the usual customs had been honoured (asking who's here for the first time, explaining the rules, i.e. only telling, no reading, etc.) Dan asked for the first teller to come on up. Well, much to the surprise of J'net (my wife) and i, we saw J'net's 14-year old boy take the talking stick. J'net and i exchanged glances - parental code for "oh oh." And we were both delighted as we heard him share a story he had learned from his dad. A short tale of an owl and a mouse and very well told. It was a wonderful way to start the evening and all the moreso to hear a new voice - and a teenager's voice at that! One story inspired another and i eventually got up to add this tale to the evening's telling:
Once there was an old man who was walking along the banks of the Ganges River. The river waters were running fast as it was spring in the mountains from where the water flowed. The water was muddy and he could see bits of trees floating along in the swift current. It was then he noticed a piece of tree root pressed to the bank by the current and on it a scorpion entangled in the roots trying to free itself and avoid plunging into the river. It was clearly only a matter of minutes before the tree root was pulled into the river again ensuring the scorpion’s doom. The old man reached out for the tree root and held it as best he could in place. He then reached out to rescue the scorpion. As soon as his hand was within reach the scorpion lashed its tale and stung the old man. He drew back his hand, shook it and reached out again. Again the scorpion stung him. Again and again he reached out and again and again the scorpion stung. The old man’s hand was swollen and purple when a traveller wandered by and, watching this strange sight, shouted, "Hoy, you old fool, can’t you see that that worthless creature will kill you before it lets itself be saved. It’s an ungrateful animal; why not let it be.” The old man looked ack at the traveller and said, "Ah, my friend, just because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I give up my own nature to save?”

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