I’m disappointed to learn that the verse below is not actually a fable…
…because I so enjoyed fables as a boy–morality delivered with a wicked sense of humor.
In fact, I appreciated Aesop’s fables much more than the parables told to me in Sunday School.
So it’s ironic that the verse below would seem to be closer to parable than fable.
Parables generally use human characters. Fables can employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature…
But also, parables generally ask us to think a little deeper. Fables hand us the answer.
I don’t know if the verse below asks us to ponder any deep message…
Nonetheless, I’m offering it up because I believe it contains a couple of key truths…
The first truth comes when narrator asks himself why he keeps acting like some kind of unconscious robot.
He doesn’t blame anyone but himself for his problem. He knows the answer lies within. Why does he allow the old man to fool him, time and again?
At that point, he makes an assumption. He assumes there’s a purpose to his action—to any and all actions, to any and all decisions, no matter how stupid they may seem.
By making that assumption, he arrives at an important insight. He realizes why he did what he did. Who among wouldn’t want such an insight?
We can argue whether our actions in this life truly have a purpose. We can argue ’til we all turn blue. However…
…if an assumption can lead us to self-awareness, if an assumption can give us some perspective on our existence here…
…if an assumption can help us become better human beings…
…then why not make that assumption?
THE FABLE OF THE OLD MAN IN THE TREE
An old man
sitting in a tree
to carry him
across the water.
But by the time
I reached the other side,
that burden on my back…
I have made many more trips,
each time toting
that same old man.
But I can’t blame him
for not staying put—
I’m the fool who keeps
bowing to his request.
I have finally told myself
I’m teaching myself this lesson:
how in time
that weigh me down
will strengthen me
if I can bear the crossing.
© 2012, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry