Sunday, February 19, 2012
let me tell you a story
My girlfriend called me up today, lamenting this fear she had, which would invariably drive her into a panic every time it reared its ugly head. It reminded me of this story I read once long ago. It's an Ethiopian folktale, I believe, and like many such tales, illustrates a universal, fundamental moral and truth.
It goes something like this. There was once a boy who was so fearful and timid that he was called Miobe, or 'frightened one'. When he asked his family why they called him that, they laughed, and said it was because he was always afraid. Miobe pondered this, and decided that he had to find out how to conquer fear. That night, after everyone had gone to bed, he packed a few things and set out into the great unknown.
After walking a great distance, he came to a village. There he found the villagers gathered together, talking among themselves in great consternation. "What's the matter?" Miobe asked.
"Our village is doomed," said one of the villagers. "There is a monster who lives up on that mountain who threatens to devour us all. It is a gigantic beast, a fearsome dragon who roars like thunder and breathes fire out of its mouth".
As Miobe looked up the mountain, he too began to see the gigantic beast at the top, dark, loud and terrifying. Everyone hurried back into their homes, too afraid to do anything. The village was desolate; no one ploughed the fields or farmed, or went to school or played. "The monster will kill us all!" they said.
Miobe was afraid too, but he saw how miserable and oppressed everyone was, and decided that he had to face this monster. "No, no, don't!" everyone cried, but Miobe took his courage in both hands. "I will conquer fear!" he said stoutly, and set off with determination.
When he reached the base of the mountain and looked up, he saw that the monster was larger and more frightening than anything he could ever have imagined. It breathed fire and roared ferociously. Miobe shivered with fear, but then, he began to climb.
As he did so, he was suprised to see that the monster seemed to be growing a little smaller. Halfway up, he realised that the monster was actually a lot smaller than he'd thought, and it wasn't as loud and fiery as it had seemed before.
Finally, he reached the summit and walked cautiously around. He could see no sign of the monster anywhere. Then suddenly, he heard a tiny croak at his feet. He looked down and saw a little creature like a toad, looking up at him with big, frightened eyes.
Miobe bent down and picked the little creature up in one hand. "Who are you?" he asked. "My name is Fear," the little creature replied, and then it vanished away into nothingness.
I trust you've been having a fearless, indomitable weekend :)