Sunday, May 22, 2005

The King was I [part 1]

In second grade, I had my first (and ultimately last) foray into the performing arts. Though my romance with the stage was limited, I'm proud to say that I took top billing as the King in a play (who's name escapes me). And by stage, I mean the hallway outside my classroom. We didn't have enough clout even to get daytime use of the uncomfortably named Challenger All Purpose Room.

The story was simple enough: King and his manservant (or at least that's what I like to remember him as) hide behind a construction paper bush as one-by-one members of his kingdom happen down a dirt road, notice a large rock in the road, comment on its danger/misplacement, and then note that the King should certainly have something done about it. Each time the King then comments to his manservant that his citizenry is a bunch of do-nothing whiners. Finally, a young peasant happens down the road, sees the rock, moves it, and finds a pot of gold underneath. King jumps out, peasant is apologetic and asks not be made a manservant for stealing the King's gold, and an appreciative King says the gold is his reward for being a proactive member of his community. Presumably in this kingdom a pot of gold can be traded for goods and services--something that today would seem to require some level of money laundering first to make it useful: a fact that has diminished by desire to swoon at the promise of a pot of gold in stories of my youth. In summary, the kid got his
citizenship in the community merit badge.

Sadly, while the memories of this story have carried forward, the lesson learned has not. Tomorrow I will explain how, while walking the streets of DC, I have stumbled upon a number of proverbial rocks, and told just about everyone who would listen what I thought they should do about it. What have I become?

Hey wait, I remember this! I think I might have been in that production with you in second grade. A peasant perhaps?
This is apparently a fable called "The Obstacle in Our Path" and it goes like this:

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand.

Moral: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
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