Fable Shoes


I think we need more than myth in our new mythology…

That may sound like a contradiction…

…until we consider all that’s included in our religious/mythological texts.

Those texts are soup—alphabet soup.  When you dip your ladle in…

…no telling what you may bring up—you may bring up “F-A-B-L-E”.

That’s fine by me.  At a young age, I was entertained and enlightened by the fables of the slave Aesop.

Since our new mythology, like mythologies of old, should be fun as well as poignant…

…I offer the fable of the elephant for possible inclusion…

As with many of Aesop’s fables, this fable involves two animals—an elephant and a man.

But unlike Aesop, the two animals don’t converse—the man believes the elephant to be a dumb beast.

In fact, the man remains as quiet as possible, not daring to disturb the elephant grazing in the far field.  He knows these beasts sometimes rampage.

Afraid of being trompled to death, the man becomes very agitated.  Finally, his fear bests him and he fires his gun at the elephant…

Due to his nervous hand, all his shots miss the mark.

The elephant then becomes frightened and rushes and tromples the man.

But our fable—being a new fable—considers other possibilities…

In a second version of the story, the man, though afraid, remains steady.  He knows the value of being cool and calm in the heat of battle.

Thus, he fells the elephant with one sure shot.

But in focusing so intently on the elephant, he doesn’t see the tiny poisonous spider creeping up his sock and onto his leg.

In both versions, the moral would seem to be obvious…

In trying to eliminate the cause of our fear, we may actually bring on that which we wish to avoid.

But this is a new fable for a new mythology, so perhaps our answers can not be gleaned so easily…

Walking away, instead of shooting, doesn’t guaranteed that the man won’t be trompled.

In fact, one might argue that, in walking away, the man again allows his fear to determine his actions.

However, by walking away, the man may save two lives: both his and the elephant’s.

So I stand by the premise of this fable—both versions.

But what if we introduce another element into the story?

What if our man-animal can make money by killing that elephant?  Moreover…

…what if he believes his survival depends on receiving that money?

In that case, the issue of being trompled may seem less important.  If the man shoots at the elephant, he may get trompled.  But if he doesn’t shoot at the elephant, his family may starve.

However, he’s smart enough to know that the number of elephants is finite.  So if he keeps killing elephants for money, he’ll eventually run out of elephants to kill and then, run out of money…

But that’s all too far in the future to worry about—our elephant hunter needs money now…

…and that elephant is like a walking AMT.  The only AMT for a hundred miles!

I hate to disappoint you, but my poor feeble mind has not yet come up with a suitable conclusion to this version of the fable.

I don’t know what I can say to the man to keep him from killing the elephant.  It’s a tough argument.

But if nothing else, I have put myself in his place…and I don’t think we can offer a workable solution to someone’s problems unless we first put ourselves in his place.

We’re living his conflict now, we’re there in the savannah with our gun in hand.  We’re watching that elephant grazing fifty yards away.

And as we wrestle with our dilemma, perhaps we begin to see the beauty of that living thing.  Yes, elephants sometimes do go on rampages, yet there‘s an innocence to the creature—it does as it does because it‘s an elephant and that‘s what elephants do.

Moreover, that elephant may have a baby elephant in tow…

Maybe that baby elephant reminds us of our own children at home, struggling to survive—the children we wish to feed by killing that elephant…

Thinking about all this—and more—we keep eyeing that elephant, checking its every move…

…waiting, knowing we must soon make a choice…wondering if there’s some other option we may have missed…

But because we feel flooded by all these disparate thoughts and feelings, we can’t find our way through to that better answer…

Yet we continue to hesitate, because we keep hoping that answer will come to us…

Maybe that’s where this version of the fable should end—where it should end when put in print, anyway.

Instead of telling us what to do, this new fable opens a discussion…

Maybe it’s not as much fun as one of Aesop’s fables.  Or maybe it’s more fun—because it requires a debate…hopefully, a lively debate in which no blows are struck.

This fable asks us to stand in someone else’s shoes.  However, the point will be lost if we don‘t see how those shoes actually belong to us.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
dreaming steps


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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