« Terminé! » , cria l’œuf quand il fut pondu. « Maintenant terminé! » , cria le tétard quand il fut sortie de l’œuf. « Maintenant je suis au complet! », cria la créature quand elle eut deux pattes. « Je suis enfin au complet de la tête aux pieds! » , cria l’être, quand il eut quatre pattes et une longue queue. « Qui sait ce qui va désormais encore se produire… » , dit la grenouille quand elle fut terminée.
Un jour, le loup de mer reҫu la visite du loup de terre. Les deux se connaissaient déjà depuis l’école des loups. Le loup de mer avait parcouru le monde et vécut beaucoup d’aventures et il rentra chez lui riche de trésors et d’expériences. Le loup de terre était resté chez soi dans sa tannière. Il rencontra une louve de terre et eut des louveteaux de terre. Et maintenant, il a beaucoup de petits-louveteaux et des arrière-petits-louveteaux, et tous sont devenus de vrais, bons loups de terre.
«Parfois j’aimerais refaire ma vie», dit le loup de terre au loup de mer. «C’est la même chose pour moi», dit ce dernier. «Je ferais beaucoup de choses différemment», dit le loup de terre. «Oui, moi aussi», répondit le loup de mer. «Je naviguerais les océans», rêva le loup de terre. «Je me marierais», soupira le loup de mer. «Je vivrais des aventures», expliqua le loup de terre. «J’aurais des louveteaux», dit le loup de mer. «Je serais un loup de mer riche. J’aurais vécu des expériences périlleuses et magnifiques, dont je pourrais raconter les histoires», dit le loup de terre avec enthousiasme. «Moi, j’aurais des petits-enfants et des arrière-petits-enfants qui m’aimeraient et qui s’occuperaient de moi quand je serais vieux et malade», assura le loup de mer.
«Et ce serait moi qui serait maintenant assis avec toi dans cette tannière de loup de mer», continua le loup de terre, « …et moi avec toi… », rajouta le loup de mer. Le loup de terre hocha la tête : «Et puis maintenant tu me dirais : “Parfois, j’aimerais bien refaire ma vie” et moi, je répondrais : “Oui, c’est la même chose pour moi.”»
Un hombre estaba atravesando el desierto. Al rededor de él no había nada más que arena, piedras y rocas, el cielo azul reluciente y el sol ardiente. En la mitad de su camino se le ocurrió descansar y buscó un lugar adecuado. Un poco lejos del camino encontró un peñón que le podía ofrecer sombra durante su descanso. El hombre se acercó. Al llegar vió algo raro: En la sombra de le roca crecía una brizna de pasto, de hecho.
“¡Qué sorpresa! ¿De dónde vienes tú?”, le preguntó el hombre. Después se rió de si mismo:
“Estoy tan solo que empiezo hablar con la hierba. Será mejor examinar de donde viene ella.”
Excavó la plantita de la arena y la puso al lado cuidadosamente. Después empezó a cavar más y más profundamente. Aunque no tropezara con un manantial brotante, en ese lugar el suelo estaba verdaderamente mojado. Cuando el hombre de nuevo se puso en camino no olvidó de reponer la brizna en la tierra mojada. Con unas piedras construyó un pequeño muro para proteger la planta contra la desecación por el viento caliente del desierto. Después siguió caminando.
Al regresar pasó por el mismo lugar. Por supuesto miró si su pequeña planta estaba viva. Se alegró mucho: La brizna se había vuelto en un verdadero pequeño manojo de hierba. El hombre cavó un poco más profundamente y llegó a una parte aun más mojada de la tierra. Con un pañuelo, dos palos y unas piezas de cuerda, que había traído para el regreso, mejoró la protección de su planta contra el viento.
Muchos años después un amigo del hombre tuvo que atravesar el mismo desierto. Entonces le pidió a su amigo: “Pues mira qué fue de mi planta – si todavía existe.” El amigo se lo promitió. Cuando éste volvió del viaje le contó: “Tu manojo de hierba se ha vuelto en una pequeña pieza de prado. Otros viajeros han encontrado el lugar. Han subido el muro y puesto más palos con pañuelos. Alguién ha cavado un pozo y lo ha cubierto con una pieza de cuero. Al lado del pozo crece una hermosa higuera . En sus hojas canta un grillo.”
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.
“What is this huge, disgusting wart on my thumb?” He was three years old when he said this to his mother. For days already he had looked at the round, orange-coloured bulge, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. “That is a blister. It comes from sucking your thumb.” “And if I stop, will it go away again?” “Yes”. On this day he made a holy vow. It was his first adult decision.
The people stood before him. They had come in their hundreds. And he stood before them. What should he say? “The master, whose words you want to hear, is dead”, he announced. “He died last night. But first he bade me to speak to you today.”
“But do you then also know”, asked the people, “what the master wanted to say to us?” “I hear it”, he said.
Have you ever stood at the foot of a cliff where seagulls live, and have you listened to them cry? They cry in so many ways… It is an impressive sound when thousands of seagulls fly around a cliff, and fill the air with their cries. But you do not only hear them cry. You also hear the gentle sounds that they make when they are mating. You also hear the screaming sounds of the young birds when they are just hatched. Their call is clear, they demand what they need. It is as if they call for justice: “Here I am! I want to grow and become strong!” You can see how lovingly the seagull parents care for their youngsters. Again and again they fly away and come back with a fish in their beaks. Why do they do this, day after day? “Instinct” some scientists say. I call it love. For again and again they are in search of that which will strengthen their young. They do not care if it is raining or snowing of if there is a storm. They search for food for the young seagulls. I have also heard: If a seagull cannot care for its young ones, often another one will do the task. It will then treat them as their own. It will not ask about rain or storm or snow. It flies for these young birds that will soon no longer be young birds. Yes, soon they themselves will fly, confident in their skills to glide in the air high above the sea. It is good to grow up on a cliff where so many other seagulls are living.
“Now I am forty years old. I am an aged man”, he said and nodded his head. He was a man from Kenya, from the area around Mombasa. “But, I beg your pardon, you’re not old!” I replied to him. “Yes, I am old, and don’t you dare claim anything else”, he said. “In Kenya it is good to be old. The older, the better.”
A man from Africa was watching a European farmer working in his field.”When do you plant cabbage?” he asked. “I see. And when do you harvest it?” The man from Africa was disappointed. “They really should grow quicker at home than in Europe”, he said. “After all, we have more sun.”
Many years ago, there lived an old man in our country who knew how to tell so many tales that the people said about him: This man is an inexhaustible source. Yet more notably he had the gift of telling each tale in such a way that it became the story of the listener. Often the storyteller had many listeners, and sometimes, after one of his tales, he could hear them having a dispute, for each person felt deeply that the words had been chosen exclusively for him, while someone else claimed the same for himself.
People came to the storyteller with multifarious concerns. There was a mother who accused her son of being dull and inactive. And her son replied that, since she was always wandering restlessly about, he could not work. There was a woman who complained that she constantly had to admonish her husband not to drink so much. And her husband said, only when he was drinking could he bear her habit of complaining. There were children who ate too much or too little, there were the sick who wished to recover, and those who were suffering and hoped to be freed from pain. There were couples, who wanted to come together, and others who wished to separate, and many other people who addressed him with their needs. He was able to help all of them in one way or another.
One day a young man stepped up towards him saying: “I want to learn this art of yours.” The old man looked in his eyes. Those eyes told him about the desire of this young man, to be able to tell stories to free people from their sufferings. They also spoke of the young man’s fear that his wish could be denied, and that he would never have the opportunity to learn this art from its master. The old man nodded. “You can live with me as long as you are learning, and you can pay later if you are content with what you have learned. The young man was happy to hear this reply, and thus began his apprenticeship.
“First you need to learn to pay reverence to the stories”, the old man said to him. “Only he who can tremble from the power of a story can receive it with its full effect. You need to find within yourself the yearning for the word of release, for the word that frees, for the word which opens the doors and sends your listeners on a voyage. And you need to learn to be silent. The moment when your tale has its greatest force is the moment when it moves your listener and yourself with the greatest speed. This is when it must end, so you gain momentum and are flung on the path that it shows. – This is not true of all the stories”, he added wisely after a pause.
“You need to learn to feel the power of the words” he stated on another occasion. “One sentence does not have the same power as another. For mostly it is like this: Any word that is too much is taking away some of the story’s power. The contrary may be true for people who talk a lot without saying much: Their speech robs their listeners’ strength.”
“There are different powers within words” he once said. “Threatening and strengthening powers, and power that guides you on your search. All three are good. But you must know, which of the powers is contained in the story that you are telling.” All this the young man heard with curiosity and wonder. Yet he felt grieved to find that the old man did not tell him any stories. It even seemed as if his master hid his tales from him, and only told them when he was absent. At first he did not dare ask the old man about this. But with every day that passed by, his disappointment grew, and finally he decided to address this question. He had not yet opened his mouth when his master began to speak: