Wednesday, July 13, 2011
One day, a boy riding a bicycle
One day, a boy riding a bicycle came upon a philosopher sitting beneath a tree. “Good morning,” said the boy. “How are you?” “I’m fine,” the philosopher replied. “I’m trying to figure out this tree.” The boy looked at the philosopher, then at the tree. “What’s wrong with it?” he said. “Nothing,” the philosopher said. “Nothing at all. But it’s here, and that’s what I am trying to understand.” Once again, the boy looked at the philosopher and at the tree. “I think it’s an oak tree,” he said, trying his best to help. The philosopher smiled. “Ah, yes. An oak. But why is it an oak? Why isn’t it a walnut tree, for instance, or a maple? And why is it a tree at all, instead of a person, or a cat, or a dog?” The boy stared at the philosopher in disbelief. “Because it’s an oak,” he said. The philosopher sighed. “If only it were that simple,” he said. “But why isn’t it?” the boy said. “I don’t know,” the philosopher said. “That’s another question entirely. Down through the ages, many great and learned men have wondered that very same thing.” “Well,” the boy said, “what did they decide?” “Nothing,” the philosopher said. “Not a dad-blamed thing. When it comes to simple things, the learned men of this world are as dumb as a post — myself included.” Just as the philosopher finished making this statement, an acorn fell from the oak tree and landed on his head. This puzzled him even further. Before long, he forgot to notice the boy’s presence, and began mumbling into his beard. The boy got back onto his bicycle and rode away. He had to. He still had a life to live.
From One Hand Clapping, dated July 14, 2003.