Sideband #16: And maybe the horse will sing

The title of this Sideband, “And Maybe the Horse will Sing,” comes from a story told by the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus. This is a parable about hope and possibilities; about how you never know what might happen even when it seems that all hope is lost.

This is a story of a thief, Nasrudin, who was caught at his thievery and, by the laws of his land, sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the Royal Presence: “Is there any reason at all why I shouldn’t have your head off right now?”

To which he replied: “Oh, King, live forever! Know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your kingdom, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, given a year to work on it.”

The king was amused, and said: “Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn’t singing a year from now, we’ll think of something interesting to do with you.”

As he was returning to his cell to pick up his spare rags, his cellmate remonstrated with him: “Now that was really stupid. You know you can’t teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try.”

Nasrudin’s response: “Not at all. I have a year now that I didn’t have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die.

“And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing.”

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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