Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Peacock

I finished the third day of classes today, and so far has been quite good. In one of my courses, we're read through a story for comprehension. The vocabulary was pretty difficult for me, so it took 2 days to make it through it. But once I finally understood everything, I realized it's really quite a great story.

I've translated it here for you to read. (I have taken a fair amount of liberty with the translation and paraphrasing.)
One day, my friend and I were talking about nothing in particular, when all of a sudden, a mysterious grin came onto on his face. "Do you want to hear a riddle?" Curious, I said "Sure".

He began: "You're an explorer traveling through a strange forest with
five animals: a tiger, a monkey, a peacock, an elephant, and a dog. In this journey you will encounter many dangers and hardships. You cannot bring all of the animals with you through to the end. You have to get rid of them one by one throughout your journey. In which order will you get rid of them?"

After thinking for a while, I replied, "First the peacock, then the tiger, the dog, the monkey, and lastly, the elephant." My friend started laughing. "I knew it! You got rid of the peacock first too!"

"What's so funny about that? What does this even mean?"

He explained, "The peacock represents your lover (or spouse), the tiger represents your desires for money and power, the dog represents your friends, the elephant represents your parents, and the monkey represents your children. How you answer this riddle reveals a lot about what kind of person you are. Whoever your get rid of first in the story represents who you will betray first when you encounter a hardship or crisis."

"The peacock represents my lover? So you're saying that I would first betray my lover in a hardship?" I was so surprised to hear this. The truth is, the only reason I decided to get rid of the peacock first is that in a dangerous situation, the peacock is the least helpful animal to me.

This outcome really upset me, so I began to pose the same riddle to everyone. It seemed that no matter who I told the riddle to, they all had the same answer as I had. Everyone chose to get rid of the peacock first. I began to think, "What kind of person would come up with a riddle like this?"

Then one day, I called an old friend from my hometown and remembered this riddle. I decided to pose it to him. After thinking for a while, he responded, "Monkey, tiger, dog, elephant, peacock." I couldn't believe it! He was the first person I had met that got rid of the peacock last!

"Why did you get rid of the peacock last?" I asked him eagerly. He calmly replied, "Think about this group of animals: The peacock is the least able to protect itself, so how could I feel right about leaving it alone in such a dangerous place?"

I finally understood. Most of the time, we only think about how other people can benefit us, instead of thinking about how others might benefit from our help.

Instead of looking only out for our own interests, we should be pay attention to when others are in need of help.

1 comment:

Han said...

I really enjoyed this. Thanks, Simon!