Used to be I thought children’s tales and fables were just for kids. Yet when I look back now I recognize life lessons craftily concealed in many of them. The Boy Who Cried Wolf- pretty evident. The Fox and the Hound- friendship knows no bounds. And of course, Aesop imparts his wisdom in his tales too. For example, The Wind and the Sun:
The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.
“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.
Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.
“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”
“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.
The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.
The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.
Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.
“How did you do that?” said the Wind.
“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”
We’ve all encountered this person. You know- the one who wants so badly to incite a behavior or emotion in you, he or she relentlessly campaigns for it. Maybe the campaign is sweet at first, like a warm summer breeze. Maybe for a while you embrace that breeze, wrapping yourself in it. Maybe for a while that wind is your friend. But then something changes. Maybe it’s now picked up some debris that pelts you in its path. Maybe it stings, and turns bitter and raw. You need a break. You seek shelter. You long for the warm breeze back. But instead the wind howls stronger, faster, all around you. It picks up your life in its force, disassembling it and scattering it for miles. Just when you feel certain you yourself are about to be crushed by its fury, it subsides. And the warm breeze is back, comforting you. Birds sing and the sun shines, and you begin to recover. To believe the storm passed. Until it strikes again.
The pattern repeats itself over and over, confusing you, exhausting you, breaking you. Until you are forced to build walls so strong that wind can never reach you again. You protect yourself from its fury you can still hear pounding at those walls. But inside your shelter it is safe and warm, and you are surrounded by sunlight and rays of strength. You miss that warm breeze but a new breeze finds you, with new hope and new promise, and you know you made the right choice.