new fable manifesto

The cover above is for a book you do not need to buy.

You don’t need to buy that book because all forty fables can be found on this blog.

However…

…I never posted the “very brief introduction” used for the book.  Actually, it’s more than an introduction—it’s a manifesto!  So I’ve decided to post it below:

At the age of nine, I discovered the clear sharp truth of Aesop’s fables.

I still enjoy those old stories as an adult…but life is bit more complicated now.

So I needed new fables.  Like Aesop’s tales, these new fables are short and simple—and cut right to the truth.  Simple stories to help us deal with a complex world!

The new fables say: there can be more than one possible outcome.  They tell us: don’t assume anything.  And don’t be too quick to judge—or don’t judge at all.

These simple stories advise: don’t give up on the foolish fox or crow or man or woman—there’s always the possibility for change.

These simple stories suggest: life is always a work-in-progress.

These stories declare: sometimes, what we believe to be real is more important than the actual reality.

So these simple stories aren’t as simple as they seem.

Yet they tell us: this complicated world is really not so complicated when you cut through all the bric-a-brac.

Bric-a-brac.  These days, we’re bombarded with bric-a-brac.  I hope Forty New Fables can provide you with a little relief.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
Forty New Fables: ebook

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fable of the middle-aged werewolf

A man new in town warned the townspeople that he became a werewolf every full moon night…

Of course, no one believed him.  But the man seemed quite concerned for their welfare.  So, to be polite, they followed his instructions on the next full moon night:

They double-locked their doors and shuttered their windows and stayed off the streets.

He’d also requested they shield their eyes.  However, as the moon rose that evening, curiosity got the best of both young and old.

And what did they see when they peeked through the slats of their shutters?

Nothing but a middle-aged man jogging the streets in a red jump suit.  No hairy face or chest, no sharp teeth, no clawed feet or hands.

However, some claimed he would stop occasionally and look about in a furtive manner, keeping his shoulders hunched.  But they also admitted: the pose looked a little silly without the wild hair and protruding teeth.

Odd behavior, in any case.  Yet the man appeared quite ordinary the rest of the time.  And so, the townspeople accepted him into the community.  Nonetheless, their friendly smiles often hid a laugh.

So then, what did they do on the next full moon night?  They kept to their houses, of course!  After all, if the man believed himself to be a werewolf, he might actually try to rip you apart in the moonlight…

…especially if he thought you doubted his story.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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fable of the weary traveler who found a man of wisdom

After walking a long time on a long road…

…the traveler gazed across the dry, empty plain…

…and saw a man of wisdom.

The old master sat cross-legged under a barren tree in the gold of a morning sun.

Desperate for guidance, the weary young wayfarer approached with his hat in his hand.

“Excuse me, sir, but I am lost…

“I’ve gone many many miles on this road and found many many things.  But that which I seek still eludes me.

“To be honest, I can’t exactly say what it is I seek.  But I think I’d know it if I saw it.  So I’m pretty sure I haven’t yet seen it.”

The old wise man did not open his eyes, did not speak nor stir, so the traveler continued…

“I’m not asking you to guide me to what I desire.  But maybe you could provide a little insight.  Some bit of wisdom to expand my perspective.  To give me hope.”

But the old wise man didn’t open his eyes.  Didn’t speak nor stir.  Shadows of leafless limbs striped his withered face and chest and rigid back.

Trying to restrain his growing impatience, the fretful fellow finally asked, “Why won’t you answer me?  Won’t you show me some pity?”

But again, no response: the old man was the personification of stillness.  What was going on!

“Wait—I think I get it: you’re speaking to me with your silence…

“You want me to listen to myself, is that it?  To really think about what I’m saying?  You want me to challenge my assumptions.  To examine my beliefs.

“Well, to be honest, lately my thoughts have gone in that direction.  I’ve wondered if I’m looking at the situation the wrong way…

“I keep hoping to find something great somewhere up the road—the proverbial pot of gold.  But maybe the gold is always right here—wherever I am, wherever I go.  There’s gold everywhere—gold in the many things and places and people I encounter.  I just have to open my eyes and see it.

“Yes, that must be true—because when I look back on where I’ve been, I recognize many golden moments that didn’t seem so golden in the moment.

“Thank you, wise man, thank you for helping me to see.  Now, I no longer feel lost.”

The traveler bowed deeply, then walked on.

A few miles later, he arrived at a village.  When he spied three men sitting outside a small adobe store, he approached and told them of his encounter with the wise one.

“That old man is stone drunk,” the first said.

“That old man is deaf as a stone,” said the second.

“That old man is deader than a stone,” said the third.

“Well, maybe he’s drunk or deaf or dead to you,” the traveler replied.  “But to me, he’s a wise man sitting under a tree.  A good way to see him, I believe…

…because by seeing him that way, I’ve gained a new perspective on this life.”

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
searching for my best beliefs: poetry ebook

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fable of the not-too-old-yet donkey

The not-too-old-yet donkey finally decided to have a child.  For this reason:

By sharing what she’d learned about life, she’d not only be helping a child, but an entire generation…

…and all the generations to follow.

In that way, her small contribution could eventually become a big one!

Fate and a mate then acquiesced to her wish.  And so, the not-too-old-yet donkey brought a daughter into this world.  By definition, a foal.

A few months later, she began to instruct her lively child in the ways of donkey life…

…starting with this important lesson:

How best to manage a heavy load on the back.

“You must walk with a steady gait,” she told her daughter.  “Too fast and you’ll burn yourself out.  Too slow and the burden will grow heavy and you’ll collapse.”

She believed she needed to be strict.  She must prepare the girl for the hardships of adulthood!

However, she was kind enough—wise enough—to allow her daughter some free time after that first lesson.  She watched as the child frolicked in the meadow of blue wild flowers.

Yes, the little donkey was still just a foal.  But the very young have their own wisdom and kindness.  Consider:

Before long, the girl abruptly halted in play and called to her mother:

“Why don’t you join me, Momma?  You say you want me to have fun while I’m still young.  Well, I am having fun, but I’m sure I’d have much more fun if you joined me, Momma.”

The donkey mother tried to think of a gentle way to refuse, but was at a loss.

So they chased butterflies together.  Then brayed at a ‘possum in a tree.  After that, they amused themselves with a game of tag.

At the end, though she panted for breath, the not-too-old-yet donkey noticed a lightness to her step.

“Hmmm,” she thought, “perhaps there was something more behind my wish to have a child.”

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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fable of the woman who wished to return to twenty-one

As the woman reflected back on her life, she said what so many have said in such moments:

“If only I could go back in time.  I’d do things differently.”

But in her case, those words actually cast a magic spell: with a sudden faint, the woman fell down through time…

…down through the years, the decades—imagine her descending through darkening waters as if limp with sleep.

She dropped until she woke at the age which she believed to be her golden age:

Twenty-one.

But though twenty-one was golden in her memory, in truth, she’d struggled hard at that age…struggled to deal with her new life as an adult…

…struggled to deal with old childhood experiences.

She’d learned much from those struggles.  So, in that way at least, twenty-one was golden.  For that matter, the intervening years were golden too, because of all she learned from her continuing struggles.

Unfortunately, by returning to the age of twenty-one, the woman lost that accumulated wisdom.  And so, as she rose through the years once more, she made the same mistakes she’d made before…

…and just as before, slowly, slowly learned from those mistakes.

Eventually, she rose to the point where she had said, “If only I could go back in time.  I’d do things differently.”

So, then what?  Did she say those words again and again return to twenty-one, and then have to repeat the whole process?

Many not only say “yes”, but claim: with her magical wish, she had created a continuous loop for herself…a never-ending cycle.

Thus, she’d be repeating those words and reliving those years through all eternity.

I can see the logic of that idea.  Nonetheless, I reject it.  After all, the woman has shown the ability and inclination to change her life, her mindset—her perspective…

So wouldn’t she eventually realize her error?  When she looked back on her life, wouldn’t she eventually see how much she’d learned, how much she’d grown?  Wouldn’t she see that a return to twenty-one would mean the loss of all she’d gained?

Wouldn’t she then say:

“No, if I went back to twenty-one, I wouldn’t do things differently—because I’d be just as dumb as I was before, at that age.  I’d have to suffer my way through the same damn mistakes.  I should prize my hard-earned wisdom.”

She would then stop lamenting her lost youth and move forward.  She would enter the golden age she’d earned for herself—earned by struggling to grow from painful experience.

That’s my belief.  However…

… I can’t say for certain what happened to the woman.  But after hearing her story, I can say for certain that I’ll never again say:

“If only I could go back in time.  I’d do things differently.”

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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fable of the woman who tried to see as the man saw

“If you ever tried to see the world from my point-of-view, you’d realize I’m right,” the man told her.

“I wouldn’t want to pollute my eyes,” the woman replied.  “But okay, okay—here’s what I’ll do:

“Just for today, I’ll try to see things as you see things.

“That should be easy enough for me to do.  After all, I’ve heard you spout the same nonsense for years.  Heard all about our dog-eat-dog world.  And those silly conspiracies!  Your words are firmly embedded in my brain.”

So the woman adjusted her mindset and went forth into the world…

…and that world soon began change before her eyes.

The shadows appeared to darken.  Corners and edges sharpened and hardened.  Now the trees seemed somewhat menacing.  Were the smiles of the passersby actually malicious grins?

These changes frightened her, yet the woman continued.

“Maybe it’s smart to look at things this way,” she thought.  “The world could indeed be a darker place, a harder place than I wish to believe.  Maybe I’m a fool to take every smile at face value.  Maybe the trees really do hate us—who could blame them?”

But then the birds in those trees stopped chirping.  Instead, they shouted curses.

“Okay, that’s enough!” the woman yelled to the air.  “Yeah, maybe my view of the world is a little too bright.  Maybe I often reject the darkness of this life…

“But I refuse to live in a world where birds hurl curses.”

And so, with some relief, she stopped trying to think as the man thought, stopped trying to see as he saw.

However…

…after she snapped back, the woman noticed her view of the world wasn’t quite as sunny as before.  Not dismally dark, nor dully gray.  But with more degrees of shade.  She realized her vision had expanded.

“So if I keep trying to see the world through others’ eyes, maybe I’ll have great vision someday,” she told herself.

In case you’re wondering, she still argues with the man…

But not so loudly these days.  And not just because she’s seen the world from his point-of-view…

…but also because she now knows his pain.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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fable of the man who believed life was better

He believed his life had changed for the better…

…because a new king had been crowned.

Maybe so…but…

…his faucet still dripped…

…and his roof still needed mending…

…and he still needed to exercise more and eat less starch…

…and he still hadn’t made peace with his ex-wife…

…or his daughter or his son…

…and his dog still growled at him…

…and he still fought with his employer…

…and his neighbor still got on his nerves.

And yet, this man still said, “Life is better—

“—much better, because we have a much better king.  A much better king who’s promised to make many changes for the better.”

“I know he’s said he will,” his neighbor replied.  “But you can’t always trust what somebody says.

“After all, didn’t you say you would fix your faucet, patch your roof, exercise and eat less starch?

“Didn’t you say you’d make peace with your ex and your daughter and son and your dog?  Didn’t say you say you were going to find a boss who didn’t bark at you?”

The man who hadn’t changed then turned his back and walked away, muttering to himself, “When he starts being nicer to me, I’ll start being nicer to him.

“Anyway, I’m sure life has changed for the better…

“…because, as far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t get any worse.”

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
I’m Responsible: a pessimistic optimist responds to the trouble of his times

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