Monday, 14 January 2013

"The bullfrog's friends" - a new wisdom story

Another new wisdom story - I'm on a roll! As always, feel free to use these stories as you see fit, although attribution would be nice...

Once upon a time, in a sluggish warm pond, there lived a bullfrog. He spent his days swimming through the water, eating whatever bugs he could catch, sunning himself when the weather was nice, and just generally lazing about. 

Occasionally, he would notice some of the other animals passing by his pond or swimming in its waters in pairs or groups. He noticed that these animals seemed a bit more contented than the animals that were strictly solitary. He saw that they were happier too - they laughed more readily, played more energetically, and - when things were difficult - they got through it more readily.

The bullfrog decided to find out what was going on. He hopped over to a duck and a goose who were paddling about on the pond and asked for some advice.

"Oh, you silly frog", said the goose. "We're friends! Haven't you ever heard of friendship? Surely you must have some friends?"

The bullfrog hurriedly assured the duck and goose that he knew all about friendship and that - oh indeed yes! - he had lots of friends.

But, of course, this wasn't true, and the bullfrog hopped away as quickly as he could. He realised then that that he was missing something that seemed rather important - friendship. So, he thought "I have to get some other animals to be my friends. Hmmm... How do to that though?"

He thought and he thought, until he finally decided he decided he had it figured out. When he wanted dinner, he would simply stay very still and then grabbed an unsuspecting insect with his sticky tongue. This friends thing must be similar!

So the bullfrog stayed very still. He waited and waited. Finally, a happy looking wren landed right near him. Thwpt! Out went the bullfrog tongue and it landed right on the bird's head. "Ewwww!" said the wren. "What do you think you're doing?" The bullfrog was trying to get his tongue back into his large mouth as he said in a garbled voice "I just want to have a friend..." The wren chided him, just before flying off, "well, you sure have a funny way of doing it!"

Alone again in the pond, the bullfrog felt dejected. "I don't think I'll ever have a friend at this rate" he thought. He realised that he actually knew nothing at all about how to get a friend or about how to be one.

In desperation, he decided he would try something different. Instead of trying to get a friend, he'd just listen to everyone he could to learn about them and try to see what they wanted. Once he had done that, he figured, he would know enough to get some friends.

His experiment started the next day. When he awoke, still drowsy, he saw a colourful fish swimming by. "Good morning fish" he offered. "How are you this morning?" The fish began to tell him about how his left fin was aching him but then he stopped himself "Oh" he said, "I suppose you don't really want to know. Just a greeting, right? I'm fine."

The bullfrog was about to dismiss the fish's complaints and move on, but he remembered about his plan to listen. "No, please tell me more." He said. "I'm sorry to hear about your fin. What's that like for you?"

The fish was taken aback, and he began to talk. He told the bullfrog about the sore fin. He told him about his many children. He told him what life was like deep down under the water. Thirty minutes had passed when the fish realised he needed to go. "Thanks for listening" he said. "Can we talk again?"

The bullfrog thought this was a great opportunity to learn how to get friends, so he quickly agreed.

Later that day, something similar happened with a passing duck. It was amazing how many stories emerged when animals were given a chance to share them. It just kept happening! A squirrel, a frog, a robin, a turtle... they all told their stories to the listening bullfrog.

The bullfrog just listened. He didn't feel inclined to talk about himself - and he never repeated what he had heard to anyone else.

As darkness came, the bullfrog reflected on what an amazing day it had been. He had learned so much more than he ever expected. Life was much more complicated and rich than he could have imagined. With all the many stories he had heard that day swirling through his head, the bullfrog finally fell off to sleep.

The very next day, the bullfrog was again looking around for someone to talk to. Preoccupied, he didn't notice that a hungry fox was sneaking up behind him. The fox snapped his jaws sure of a tasty frog breakfast, but the bullfrog had finally noticed the danger and leapt just in the nick of time. The fox's jaws grazed him though, and - thrown off course - he landed hard and head first on a stone - out of danger - but completely unconscious.

The bullfrog never knew how long he might have been out, but as he came-to he gradually became aware that surrounding him were dozens of animals - all of them eager to see him. All of them with a concerned look in their eyes.

"What's going on?" he croaked? "What are you all doing here?"

The animals looked around confused. The colourful fish with the sore fin spoke first. "Well, of course we're here. We're your friends!"

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