thinking

Timmy the tortoise

Slowly, steadily, he marched.

Timmy the tortoise was frightened, but he pressed forward. Behind him, felt but not seen, the giant serpent swallowed its tail. Before him, the many-branching path leading…..where?

 

Slowly, steadily, he marched. Time passed, one foot in front of another.
Rounding a bend, Timmy saw a tiger. The tiger sat by the path, a sad and confused look on its majestic features. Timmy the tortoise was frightened, but he knew his armour would keep him safe, so he stopped to see if he could help the confused cat.
“Brother tiger,” he said, “you look vexed. But you are a beautiful, strong predator, with glossy orange and black fur, bright eyes and big teeth. Surely you are lord of your domain and all bow before you, trembling in awe. What could possibly be the matter, great one?”
The tiger stood on all fours and looked down at the humble tortoise, his bright eyes baleful. “Little terrapin, I have problems of which your puny mind could not conceive. Certainly I am beautiful, lord of my domain, and all tremble before my burning eyes, but still I am troubled. I may eat any animal I choose, even you, whose armour I could crack with one bite, any animal but one.”
Timmy was no terrapin, and he was more than a little perturbed by the tiger’s threat, but he held his head up high and asked the fearsome feline, “Which animal is that, my lord?”
“The elephant, friend turtle. Please understand, it is not that I cannot bring him down, cannot subjugate him to my will. This I can do, it is a trifle. I can subjugate any animal to my will, for my will is iron, my claws sharp and my teeth true. No, it is not that. It is only that once I bring him down I do not know what to do, for he is so huge. How does one eat an elephant?”
Timmy thought hard, knowing his life may depend on the answer he gave. He swallowed, then gave his considered opinion: “One mouthful at a time?”
“Ah.” The tiger sat heavily on his haunches, a thoughtful look upon his whiskered features.
Leaving the tiger gratefully perplexed by this kernel of wisdom, Timmy pressed on down the many-branching path.
Slowly, steadily, he marched. Time passed, one foot in front of another.
Rounding a bend, Timmy saw a man sitting dejectedly on a stump next to a small wall made of clay bricks. The wall was scarcely a metre high and a few metres long. Timmy was scared, because he knew men were even more dangerous than tigers, but he stopped by the wall and cleared his throat.
“Brother man dude,” he said, adopting lingo he felt would put the naked ape at ease, “you seem troubled. But you are a man, most resourceful of all creatures, transformer of landscapes, subjugator of nature. Surely you are lord of your domain and all bow before you, trembling with awe. What could possibly be the matter, great one?”
The man stood up, scratching his moustache and looking around for the source of the small voice that addressed him. Finally noticing Timmy the tortoise, standing with head held high a mere four inches from the ground, the man looked down with red-rimmed eyes. “Little testudine, how simple your life is. You could not possibly conceive of the troubles faced by a man such as myself. I have a vision, you see, a fantastic vision so grand and so huge. The world has never seen such a construction as that which I have conceptualised and must now bring into this world. I have been working at it all day, and see what I have accomplished!”
Timmy had no idea what a “testudine” was supposed to be, but he was a firm believer in being polite to strangers. “Indeed sir your wall is very impressive, I must confess I have seen other walls…”
“No, you stupid-small-minded-cold-blooded-reptile! The wall is nothing! Nothing!! My vision includes ten thousand walls, buildings, archways, aqueducts! It is a city, a great city where the world’s greatest minds will congregate and build the future.” The man melodramatically clapped his hand to his forehead, looking as if he might keel over in his fervour.
“Oh, I see,” said Timmy, allowing the man’s insults to slip by like water off a tortoise’s shell. “That does sound pretty amazing. What do you call this incredible architectural conglomerate that you will create?”
“I call it ‘Rome’, but I will never create it. I have worked all day – see how little I have achieved!” The man was pacing back and forth in agitation. “Little friend, I am finished! Ruined! I will be a laughing stock. What ever shall I do?”
Timmy thought hard, wanting to help the man but also nervously aware of the hammer the man had picked up and was now purposelessly swinging back and forth in the air, a hammer that might crack a little tortoise’s shell. “Perhaps it takes more than one day to build something so magnificent,” he offered, “perhaps you should work on it again tomorrow?”
“Ah.” The man stopped swinging the hammer and sat sown heavily on his stump, a thoughtful look on his moustached features.
Leaving the man gratefully perplexed by this kernel of wisdom, Timmy pressed on.
Slowly, steadily he marched. Time passed, one foot in front of another.
Timmy was frightened, but he pressed forward. Behind him, felt but not seen, the giant serpent swallowed its tail. Before him, the many-branching path leading….where?
Timmy was frightened, but he thought he saw a light in the distance getting closer, one step at a time.
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A metaphor.

We are all in a dark room.

We all have torches.

Torches are tools for seeing.

*

All our torches are fundamentally the same, but they have different batteries.

Batteries are tools for thinking.

Our choice of batteries affects the brightness of our torches.

*

The beams of our torches can be focussed or diffuse.

The more we focus our beam the brighter it becomes.

The brighter the beam, the more clearly we see what we are looking at.

The more clearly we see what we looking at, the less we see everything else.

The more diffuse our beam, the more we see.

The more we see, the less clearly we see it.

*

The room is crowded.

We can’t see beyond the width of our torch beam.

We can’t see anyone else’s torch beam.

We often bump into each other.

Bumping into each other is an unfortunate accident.

*

The room’s darkness is not absolute.

If we switch our torches off our eyes can adjust.

If we let our eyes adjust we can see everything, dimly.

*

Get the best batteries you can.

Vary the width of your beam constantly.

Switch off your torch for a while every single day.