Once upon a time there lived a humble farmer that toiled in the rice fields throughout the day. One day, he took a nap and as he awoke, night had already fallen. He got up and immediately started home. Attempting to expedite his return, the farmer decided to cut through the forest. As he walked, the sounds of midnight stood still as a lone owl could be heard in the distance. There was something in the air.

The farmer quickened his pace, as his breath began to pick up. He could hear something – something tracking him, following him to make a kill. So he began to run. Undoubtedly, the farmer now heard heavy strides quickening their pace from behind – something was coming. He could hear its breath, dripping with hunger. Fearful for his life the farmer began to sprint with all his might.

But suddenly a cliff emerged in front and the beast was closing in from behind. He leaped. He tumbled through the air as his and fortuitously grabbed hold of a single vine that now suspended him from his doom. From above, the beast emerged peering over the cliff – it was a monstrous tiger. It said, “Come up and I shall devour you.” At that very moment, the man peered down and from the blackness emerged yet another tiger saying, “fall down and I shall devour you.” But it didn’t stop there. As he looked up he noticed one black and one white mouse gnawing on the very vine that sustained his life – the life vine. At that precise moment he gazed in front and beheld a luscious strawberry. He picked it and ate it – how delicious it was.

Now what is this story supposed to meant? Didn’t it seem like a rather abrupt and ostensibly unfitting conclusion? Well, the story is supposed to represent us all — our human condition, so to speak. We are all hanging on that life vine. The black mouse and white mouse symbolizing night and day propel us towards the inevitability of death or suffering – which ever comes first. We are all going to die (the one thing we can be sure of), or experience a desperate moment.

But as we hang there the message of the story is to recognize the “strawberries” in our lives, like a sunset on a Sunday walk in the park, or even an argument with a friend, you fill in the blanks. Our lives are filed with wonderful, rich, aromatic strawberries, if we are willing to pay attention to the moment here and now. Our lives are filled with moments that are more wondrous than wonder itself and all its synonyms combined, if we pay attention.

(from the book: A Bald Head and a Strawberry)

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