Musings: Lessons Learned From Stories…
“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it” James Matthew Barrie
The Milkmaid and Her Pail
Patty the Milkmaid was going to market carrying her milk in a Pail on her head. As she went along she began calculating what she would do with the money she would get for the milk. “I’ll buy some fowls from Farmer Brown,” said she, “and they will lay eggs each morning, which I will sell to the parson’s wife. With the money that I get from the sale of these eggs I’ll buy myself a new dimity frock and a chip hat; and when I go to market, won’t all the young men come up and speak to me! Polly Shaw will be that jealous; but I don’t care. I shall just look at her and toss my head like this. As she spoke she tossed her head back, the Pail fell off it, and all the milk was spilt. So she had to go home and tell her mother what had occurred. “Ah, my child,” said the mother, “Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.” Aesop’s Tales
Stories carry enormous power in that they help us learn important lessons that stay with us; they embed their precious message in our hearts and perhaps our psyche. I grew up reading and hearing stories and some of the best public speakers I ever met were great storytellers. Even in the business world, stories are used to elucidate a point, to make a sale, or, as in the case of TED, to teach a nugget of wisdom by sharing “ideas worth spreading.” Over and over again, I hear the line that everyone has a story to tell and I agree that even if we choose to not write our story, it is relevant, valid, and carries great weight. We teach each other through our stories and Aesop was a master storyteller. I’ll share a few here.
“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story” Max Ehrmann
The Ass’s Brains
The Lion and the Fox went hunting together. The Lion, on the advice of the Fox, sent a message to the Ass, proposing to make an alliance between their two families. The Ass came to the place of meeting, overjoyed at the prospect of a royal alliance. But when he came there the Lion simply pounced on the Ass, and said to the Fox: “Here is our dinner for to-day. Watch you here while I go and have a nap. Woe betide you if you touch my prey.” The Lion went away and the Fox waited; but finding that his master did not return, ventured to take out the brains of the Ass and ate them up. When the Lion came back he soon noticed the absence of the brains, and asked the Fox in a terrible voice: “What have you done with the brains?” “Brains, your Majesty! it had none, or it would never have fallen into your trap.” Wit has always an answer ready. Aesop’s Tales
We can choose to share our stories with loved ones or with the world. However we choose to share our stories, there are always lessons learned from them; even from the simplest tales. Above and below, I have shared a few more short stories from the wise and supremely talented Aesop. Aesop’s Tales are known for both their briefness and the rich wisdom shared.
“Their story, yours and mine – it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them.” Anon
The Hare With Many Friends
A Hare was very popular with the other beasts who all claimed to be her friends. But one day she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to escape them by the aid of her many Friends. So, she went to the horse, and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. “He felt sure,” he said, “that all her other friends would come to her assistance.” She then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would repel the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: “I am very sorry, but I have an appointment with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do what you want.” The goat, however, feared that his back might do her some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper friend to apply to. So she went to the ram and told him the case. The ram replied: “Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on the present occasion, as hounds have been known to eat sheep as well as hares.” The Hare then applied, as a last hope, to the calf, who regretted that he was unable to help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility upon himself, as so many older persons than himself had declined the task. By this time the hounds were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels and luckily escaped. He that has many friends, has no friends. Aesop’s Tales
We often read about celebrities with millions of fans, and many so called friends, who feel alone in their lives. We might also have tons of acquaintances in our lives that we wonder what they would do if our life circumstances changed. I remember as a child, my mom would say “It’s better to have one friend who will give you an arm than to have millions who won’t.” The Hare’s story above illustrates what could happen and offers a warning to the wise. Be careful of the company you keep. More below. ;-)
“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” Jalal ad-Din Rumi
The Lion in Love
A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said: “We feel highly honored by your Majesty’s proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would gladly consider your proposal again.” The Lion was so much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst. Love can tame the wildest. Aesop’s Tales
Stories that convey pithy messages about love tend to be very popular because, at some point in our lives, we find ourselves at a crossroad; a bridge we must cross for the sake of love… I’ve always loved stories that share the courage and wit it takes to find and maintain love, so this one should be of interest to us as readers. What types of stories do you learn most from? Do you have any favorite Aesop’s Tales?
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
The Bundle of Sticks
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a faggot of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the faggots,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father. Union gives strength. Aesop’s Tales
Stories can unite us and help us build bonds and dreams. They can also be used to instruct us on life and its many ups and downs. I love the tale above as it teaches that there is strength in unity and in numbers. What about you? What are your thoughts? Where do you find your stories? What memories do you have of stories shared in your life? What type of stories do you enjoy? Do share! Thank you. :-)
Positive Motivation Tip: Stories give us a way to not only share our thoughts, beliefs and family history, but also a way to learn lessons and grow… Share yours.
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- How to Write a Great Book: Lessons from Ezekiel (stevenwwatkins.wordpress.com)
- Muse-Sings March 2012 Feature Guest (juliecatherinevigna.wordpress.com)
- Reflections: On Storytelling… (eof737.wordpress.com)
- Aesop Has Sale Story to Tell (blogs.wsj.com)
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