Two cactuses

Another story by Katharina Lamprecht

“This is awful!”, one cactus complained, “My thorns are so long that no animal dares to come near me. No lizard, no bird not even the tiniest termite! I feel so lonely”.

“Why are you complaining?” the other cactus answered, “Mine are so weak and thin and soft that I cannot defend myself at all. No animal shows me any respect. The lizards climb all over me and tickle me with their little feet and the birds dig their claws so deep into my flesh that it hurts. I hate it”.

“You are a lucky one”, the first cactus replied, “I would give my roots for an experience like that. Imagine, feeling all that life on oneself”.They went on complaining and lamenting in this way to each other for a while. But suddenly they had a wonderful idea: they would swap their thorns so that each other could get the feeling they wanted. And for a short time, both were happy. One, to feel the birds and lizards and the other to enjoy peace and quiet. But that didn´t hold on for long and soon each began to complain again. They felt their new lives to be exhausting or boring and they longed for their old lives. So they swapped their thorns back. But again, after a short period of contentment they began whining again as before.

Then one day the wise old snake came along and rested for a moment in the shade, the two cactus casted. She listened to the two of them, complaining away, and suddenly she whispered “instead of wailing to one another you better learn from one another”. And with these words said, she slithered on.

The cactus thought about these words for three days and three nights. Then they began to try and find out, how they each managed to let their individual thorns grow. When they knew how to do that, each started to explain and teach the other how to do it. After some practice they knew precisely how to grow strong and how to grow weak thorns. And the more they experimented the better they became and the more colorful and different their thorns got.

Now they were able to keep a perfect balance between peace and quiet and lively action. And for the wise little snake they created a thornless and shady space right between them.

Le nom sécret

Quand un enfant indien arrive au monde il reçoit un nom de ses parents. Ce nom n’est que provisoire, c’est-à-dire il peut changer ou être complété par un autre nom. De la part du sorcier de la tribu l’enfant reçoit en outre un nom secret qui est son vrai et propre nom et connu seulement de lui. Personne ne peut toucher à ce nom. Personne ne peut en faire un mauvais usage. Son vrai nom n’appartient qu’à lui. L’enfant indien reçoit aussi une pierre de la part du chamane. Si le sorcier meurt avant que l’enfant ait appris son nom de sa part, le jeune indien se retire à un endroit désert. Il reste à cet endroit jusqu’à ce que la pierre lui dévoile par un rêve ou une autre révélation son vrai nom. Dans beaucoup de ces pierres il y a des druses, ce sont des cavités avec des pierres précieuses. Dans d’autres il y a de l’or, et dans toutes il y a un enchantement curatif et la force du nom clandestin.

Everything Else

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.

The Gold Prospector

In a hut by the river in the Rocky Mountains, there once lived a gold prospector. Every morning he got up, washed, ate a slice of bread, put on his working clothes and went to the river with his large sieve.

He had lived here for many years and had sieved several tons of sand. On some days he found a bit of gold, but it was seldom more than he needed in order to buy the most necessary food, clothing and tools for his daily needs. He had long dreamed of stumbling across a large amount of gold. But he realized now that this dream would never come true. Because most of the time, when he looked in his gold pan, he found nothing more than little stones which glittered in the sun.

One day an old school friend came to visit him. He was a jeweller from a large town and had amassed a considerable fortune. He was interested to see how this gold prospector lived. “Please show me, just one time, how you prospect for gold”, he asked his old friend.

Reluctantly he stood up, took his pan from the wall and went to the river with his friend. He dipped the sieve in the river, shook it and let the water run out. “See, again nothing”, he sighed and looked up at his friend. “That is unbelievable”, the latter said, and turned pale. “Full of diamonds!”

Winnowing

In countries where a strong wind sweeps across the land and makes the fields fruitful, there is a custom among the farmers that is called winnowing. Every year, after the harvest, when they have threshed the corn, they bring it outside in front of the barn. They all throw the grain into the air. The good, heavy kernels fall to the ground, while the light chaff is carried away by the wind. The hardest work is done by the wind. Who knows if one can also winnow thoughts?