Friday, August 06, 2010

The Tale of Three Mountains: A Fairy Tale for the World-Weary, Pt 2

The traveler thanked the old man and set out a second time upon the desert path. Up and down over the hillocks and dunes he walked, weaving in and out between the cacti and sagebrush. Finally, he arrived at the end of the road, where stood the three mountains. Exhausted, he made his camp in the shadow of the mountains as he had before. In the morning, he made his decision.

“Why didn’t I think of it before?” he said. “It is so simple! The mountain on the right is the tallest of the three. It is plainly the mountain that the old man was referring to!”

Upon climbing the mountain, he found a hut like the one he’d seen by the desert road and on top of the middle mountain. Upon entering, he found another wise-looking monk, except that this monk was wearing a blue robe.

“Who disturbs my meditation?” asked the monk.

“It is only I,” he said, “a road-tired wanderer in search of something, though I know not what. The old man by the desert road told me to come this way, and that I would find what I needed on top of the mountain. Can you help me?”

“Most certainly!” grinned the monk. “I can help you find what you are seeking. I can see by looking at you that you have not lived a wealthy existence!”

The man was again greatly surprised. “Why yes! Since I was very young, I have known poverty and want. Even when I had a little extra, I put it away for a future time, rather than spending it.”

“Just as I thought!” replied the monk. “And it is for precisely this reason that you are unhappy! You’ve never been able to have everything your eyes desired. Here, take this.”

“What am I supposed to do with a tea pot?” asked the traveler.

“It’s not a tea pot! It’s an old-fashioned lamp. Whenever you think of something you want, rub the lamp, and the genie who lives inside will grant your wish. And unlike those discount genie lamps you may have seen advertised elsewhere, this genie won’t stop at just three wishes! Get everything your eyes desire, and you shall find what you seek!”

The man thanked the monk and went away joyfully. He went home and carefully followed the advice of the monk in the blue robe. He rubbed the lamp greedily. A cloud of smoke poured from the lamp, and a genie-- with light brown hair--appeared.

“I am the genie of the lamp, O Master! What is your wish?” he intoned.

“I wish I had a better house,” said the man.

“Done,” said the genie. “Anything else?”

“How about a huge pile of gold coins?”

“Your wish is my command,” said the genie.

“I also want some new clothes,” said the man.

“Very well. Your closets are now filled with the best clothes in all the latest styles!”

“Wonderful!” cried the man, drunk with power, “Now I want 12 stables filled with the best horses... and priceless works of art to decorate my mansion... and a second house by the sea for when I get bored here... and live musicians to play for me everywhere I go... and servants to do my bidding... and...” This went on for weeks, until the man could think of nothing else he could possibly want. Everything his eyes desired, he had.

A year later, the man was terribly bored. He’d wished for all he could think of, and he still felt unsatisfied with life. So he journeyed yet a third time into the desert. He found the decrepit hut by the desert path again, and went inside to speak a third time with the little old man who lived there.

“I came to your little hut two years ago searching for something, though I knew not what. You told me to follow my feet along this road, and I would find what I needed at the top of the mountain.”

“Yes, that is so,” said the old man.

“I took your advice. I followed the road until I came to three mountains. This time, I climbed the top of the mountain on the right, and spoke to the monk in the blue robe. I followed his counsel, but I still find that I am empty!”

“Your dilemma is a common one,” the old man said. “Your problem is that you climbed the wrong mountain... Again.”

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