The Writer and the Patriarch

A writer went up the mountain to seek the wise patriarch.

“Sir, I want to write a story.”


“Because I want people to know what I think. I have many thoughts about the world.”

“So go and write. Why have you come here?”

“It is very difficult to write. I don't seem to have words to it. My ideas are grand, and I am afraid that people won't read it.”

“It is so. Maybe no one will read your story.”

“That is a depressing thought. I want people to read it. But then I try to please them, write things they like. Then it wouldn't be my story.”

“Why care about who will read your story?”

“Because if no one reads my story, why do I write at all?”

“Why do you write?”

“As I said, I want my thoughts heard by others.”

“If they don't want to hear it?”

“Then they are stupid.”

“Oh, what a violent thought. Please let's keep it civil.”

“But my thoughts are important. They need to be heard.”

“People are free to do what they like. They can hear it and put you on a pedestal. They can throw you in the trash. You cannot control them.”

“Then I manipulate them. I trick them into liking my story. I use things they like to talk about the things I like.”

“It is so much effort.”

“It is sir! You don't understand how many sleepless nights I have had. The sheer energy it requires to do something like that! The trickery and complexity of it all.”

“Why spend so much effort? Why not write a story and end it there? Maybe no one will read it, but it is finished, done.”

“Then why do I write at all? After all, my thoughts are only my thoughts. They have no influence if they stay inside my head.”

“That's just it.”

“What is?”

“Please, listen to me. Don't try to respond. Your thoughts cannot touch that tree.” The patriarch pointed to the lone tree standing on a small hill down the mountain. “Right? You can have an idea about that tree, put it into different words, but that is all so superficial. Deeply, your thoughts cannot touch it. Your thoughts cannot touch those clouds. What beautiful clouds they are. They are so calm and low, and the tremendous shadow. Or that rock, the earth, the small stream flowing next to us. Or that woodpecker. Have you noticed it? The tremendous speed.”

“Sir, I don't see what you mean.”

“Your thoughts cannot touch people. Wanting to influence them, thought says I will write a story, and this story will be read, and I will construct tremendously complex stories to lure people inside, and then they will be touched by me.”

“Yes. That is what I think.”

“After all, your thoughts are powerless. Thought is powerless. It might think itself being the most tremendous thing in the world. But that is still thought. Thought cannot touch a thing. It can superficially change a thing. But it can never go into the core, the depth of a thing.”

“Sir, you must be crazy. Thought is a tremendous thing. How can you deny its significance? It has done wonders in the world. But how is this related to my story?”

“What is your question?”

“How do I write this story without so much effort? It is taking a strain on me. I feel my body sore day and night.”

“Write it and be done with it.”

“It is easy for you to say.”

“Oh no. It is the most difficult thing to do. To do something and then end it. Can you do it?”

“No sir. But then again, why should I? I get nothing from it.”

“You don't. But aren't you concerned about effort?”

“Yes sir. But maybe this effort is worth it. After all, if they give me an award, if I become famous, it will be all worth it.”

“You do not want to change, if I may point out. You want to keep at it. You want the fame and you want to spend no effort. Fame is effort. Please face the truth in yourself. If you do, there is no argument. You do what you do without effort.”

“Sir, you are really not wise at all. I haven't learned a thing.”

The writer left the mountain.


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