In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.
Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.
“I’m full”, I said. “But there’s always room for a slice of cake”, they replied. “I don’t want any”, I said. “But it tastes good”, they explained. “I need to lose weight”, I said. “But you don’t need to”, they said. “My doctor said I have a fatty liver”, I said. “We know someone with a fatty liver who lived to be over 90”, they responded. “No thank you, but could I have another cup of coffee?” I asked. “With milk, please”. Then they gave me coffee with milk and left me in peace. Since then, I only use these few words.
The guests told these and also some other stories to the king on the seventh day. When the sun’s rays had sunk in the west and the last storyteller of the day had finished his tale, the king scratched his head. “How can these stories be of use to us?” he asked out loud. “Possibly not at all”, murmured a scribe quietly. “Unless he who hears them now gets up and crosses the bridge.”
He had been living alone for six years, and for six years he had been wishing for a girlfriend. He had tried everything. He had tried to meet the woman of his dreams at work or in a disco. He had met nice and beautiful women at parties and at concerts, but nothing beyond that had happened. He had answered lonely-hearts ads and placed ads in the paper himself. He had participated in group tours and had gone on holiday alone. He had allowed his friends to introduce him to interesting women or do anything they could think of which might help him. Hurt and frustrated, he finally told himself: “It’s like going up the smooth walls of a deep dry well. Whenever I have climbed up a few feet, I fall down again. My fingernails break. I fail, I fail, and again I fail. It’s hopeless.”
“Who knows”, he now heard a second voice within himself, “whether this inner image represents only a consequence to your futile efforts – or possibly the cause of them. Many things in this world move in circles.”
“Who knows”, said then a third voice, “if these pictures really contain any reality at all. Maybe it is like this: the well you’re in is just a film in your brain, and you’re just the animated cartoon producer.”
So he imagined the walls of the well opening up and becoming flatter and finding himself in a funnel which was getting wider and wider until. Finally he saw himself standing in the middle of a structure resembling a large music record. He enjoyed turning it into a cone, and then into a pillar on top of which he was standingwould stand. He decided on a flat cone with a platform for him to stand on as the structure he liked best. Two weeks later he got acquainted with a young woman. After a few weeks some problems occurred – some imbalance in their relationship as he described it. He remembered that he was still standing on the cone. He turned it into a flat surface and the problems disappeared.
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