Once there was a merchant who kept the strictest account of his business. He did the same with anything else in his life, actually. He would always say there was an order to everything and he meant his order. He knew exactly who was important to him and who didn’t matter. He knew exactly who offended him and who earned his respect. When anyone asked him for help or a favor, he had to assess the value in relation to the risk.
One day there was an accident and a complete stranger needed his help but it was easy for him to keep walking because it was all risk and no value, as he liked to say about almost everything that did not involve his profit. To get involved in such an accident would only be a threat to his well being as he saw it. This sort of thing happened before and would happen again and it was of no concern to him. Who was he to try and change the order of things?
And once there was a fool who kept no account of anything. If somebody needed something like the codpiece off his crotch, he’d give it. He had no real business to speak of except the business of life. It might’ve been a poor life but it was rich with friends who he made wherever he went.
One day, the merchant was busy running numbers in his head while he was crossing the road and a team of horses pulling a carriage galloped straight for him. And the fool saw what was about to happen and without a care pushed the merchant out of the way but was trampled to death instead. The merchant stood up and brushed himself off and cursed the man who pushed him as a downright fool who should’ve looked where he was going
Once there was a hermit who lived in a giant shell on a tiny island. And each room in her shell was connected by a central spiral staircase. As she got older, her shell grew taller with more rooms being added. And she always stayed in the newest room at the very top where she made herself a new bed out of kelp and a table and chair made from pebbles. Whenever there was a storm and the sea covered the island, her shell stayed put because it was so heavy after all those years of rooms being built. And when she got older than anyone else alive, her newest room in the shell overlooked the clouds that drifted over the sea. And if she wasn’t in her new room, she was visiting the other rooms where she felt as old or as young as when the room was built. On her last day, she spiraled out of her shell for the first time since she began building it and sat on the beach to feel the water on her toes and looked at the sunlight bouncing off the water until her last nightfall. And she laid back in the sand and saw millions of shells twinkling in the night sky before she went to sleep beside her own sparkling shell with the final thought of the greater part she had played by doing what had come so naturally.
Once there was an old woman who swept the wood shavings from the floor of a young carpenter. She brushed the shavings aside into a pile before scooping the pile into a basket. The floor had not one shaving left on it for the next day.
In the morning, the young carpenter would come in and work all day and not think about the shavings spilling all over the floor because they would disappear by tomorrow. The old woman thought nothing of what the carpenter made because every day new shavings would appear for her to sweep.
The young carpenter saw people as wood for the making, but the old woman had already been made long ago and now saw people as they were: not as the woodwork but the shavings from the woodwork meant to be swept away.