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.


erin said...

oh my! joy! i think i just wrote this the other day and have been holding it. i laugh. there is a stream from which we drink, isn't there?

forgive me for sharing? and forgive me for asking that? (and with this i know you'll set into me with a steady - not sigh, for you do not sigh at this - but with a steady being.)

the poet and the farmer

the poet and the farmer stood on the hill
and the poet was full of animation, a real flamingo
he got inside of it all like fingers under the cat's cradle
and he drew out his words like smoke
coaxing me
a snake, a maiden, an orgasm

and the farmer looked off into what was the quiet distance

and i listened to the farmer
and wept.


William Michaelian said...

Erin, you’ll forgive me, I hope, for loving it.

My “steady being” is really a smile.

Transcend Designs said...

Beautiful ride...

: )

vazambam said...

A golden oaktree (sic) but goodie never dies!

Theanne and Baron said...

I find it interesting the philosopher realized his problem but appeared helpless to do anything about it. It took me a long time on my life journey to realize that keeping it simple was the logical thing to do!

erin said...



William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Brad!

Vassilis: We’d be nuts to say otherwise!

Theanne: Yes, indeed. It takes time to understand what we knew so well in the beginning.

Erin: You reminded me of my farmer-father, who was more a poet than he realized, though not in words. And you reminded me of myself, working alongside him, until he couldn’t work anymore. I was and remain all three of us — no, make that four: the I of your poem, the you who wrote it, my father, and me. Make that five: my old typewriter sitting on a desk by a wood stove stuffed with wood from our orchard.

Paul L. Martin said...

Key words: "Because it is." Why are things the way they are? Because they are. I am reminded of that prayer: "God give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change..." We cannot change the oak. The oak is. So we must learn to accept acorns falling on our heads and not become discombobulated (one of my favorite words). What's more, the oak will still be an oak long after we are gone to dust. Thank you, William, for the reminder.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Paul. Many years ago during our first winter here in Oregon, we burnt three cords of oak in the fireplace of the house we were renting. A kind of cleansing process. Sometimes we kept the fire alive through the night. I’d watch the flames and feel the heat on my face, thinking that the light and warmth was really sunlight that had been preserved for ages in the wood, and which was now finally being released. It was glorious and primitive. We all hear voices, of course, usually our own, and we make sense of them as we will. Even acceptance is a living, growing thing.

erin said...

every response
i cradle in my arms
like a new baby born)))

we can not stop this
there is no end
to birthing new life!


William Michaelian said...

Thank goodness. And thank you, Erin, from one glad weed to another.