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FICTION FRIDAY: A Postmodern Fable

June 3, 2023

By Kirsten Nicole

Image by Alex Boyd on Unsplash

Once there were three young men who desired to seek their fortune. One man bought a sloop and determined to make his fortune as a merchant. Another directed the port near his hometown and all of the ships coming in and out of the harbors. The third young man bought a tavern and entertained many sailors with his piano tunes.

One fate-filled evening, the three met at the tavern to commiserate, after a particularly long day of work.

“It is too hard to be a sailor.” The first man groaned.

“You have your troubles with one boat. Imagine taking care of a hundred,” grumbled the second.

The third sighed. “The tavern just hasn’t brought in the money it used to.”

So despairing, the three men jumped when the old barkeep slammed a piece of parchment on the table.

“Follow this map,” he whispered. “And you’ll find the greatest treasure you’ve ever laid eyes on.”

The "greatest treasure" was quite an appealing offer and the young men hastily unfolded the map to see where they might find it.

The parchment led to a hidden trove of silver, gold, precious jewels, and the fountain of youth. Whoever discovered it would surely be the wealthiest man in all the world. However, the way looked hard and took them to places they had never seen before. Having determined the map must therefore be wrong, the three decided to create their own map instead.

Gathering some extra parchment, quill pens, and an inkwell, they set to work sketching out a map with an easier path. One that set boundaries they understood and landmarks they recognized. They accepted one another’s ideas and encouraged each other in helping create the map. Sometimes the paths diverged, sometimes they aligned perfectly.

Each man chose a separate location for discovering the treasure, and each man set out at the same time. They met each other on their road now and again with mounting anticipation for this treasure that would make their life much simpler. Much easier.

The first man came to a sandy beach, he found a place where digging was easy. “Treasure is always buried on beaches,” he thought as he slid his shovel into the loose sand. But dig as he might, that man found no treasure.

The second man searched inside a hidden cave. He lit a lantern and carefully crept inside. But search as he might amongst the eerie dripping water and echoing of his shuffling steps, that man found no treasure either.

The third man believed heartily that the treasure was hidden in the river to the east of his home. He waded into the deep and dove to the bottom, running his hand along the rocky river bed. But dive as he might, that man also found no treasure.

When he surfaced, frustrated and bitter at his fruitless attempts, he noticed an owl land on a branch overhanging the river. The man pushed back his wet hair and wiped the water from his eyes as the owl stared down at him with a disappointed gaze.

“Why do you stare?” the man demanded.

“You foolish boy,” the Owl said. "You were given the very map that would take you to the treasure, but you discarded it for your own way. Strong belief in a falsehood does not beget truth."

Moral: Personal belief does not change the truth.


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