A Persian Fable: THE CAMEL AND THE ASS*

Posted by jlubans on June 28, 2019

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A CAMEL and an Ass were once travelling together.
Upon reaching the bank of a river the Camel was the first to enter the water.
As it rose somewhat above his knees, but barely touched his body, he called to his companion: "Follow me in, for the water hardly bathes
my sides."
"I believe you," rejoined his wise, long-eared friend, "but between us two there is a big difference, and if the water rises to your sides, it would be well over my back."
The wise man refuses to be led beyond his own depth.
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Aspiration and ability
may be two separate things.
Knowing the difference might save us from doing something foolhardy or risky.
But, we might also deny ourselves something good. For the ass, it’s a swim in the river. If he can’t swim, he’s prescient; he really would be beyond his depth.
If he can swim, he is being overly cautious nor will he cross the river.
Ditto in the workplace. The so-called FLOW state of being depends on a task’s difficulty and our ability.
Do we have the training, do we have the experience, and do we have the confidence? If we do then we can take on and accomplish the task, we can cross the river.
If we don’t have the ability, it will become manifest in our lack of Flow and we can call it a mistake – better have a plan B ready.
But, our mistakes inform the next time we try to do a difficult task.
If we have learned, then we may be ready and able.
In the case of an ass that can’t swim, going in over his head will always be a mistake, a permanent one.
And, maybe, just maybe, the ass may know that crocodiles live in desert rivers.

BONUS: Spell & Grammar check gave me this bit of philosophy: “Adjusting may augment one’s own depth”. Heavy, dude!

*Source: Jami, The Baharistan.J PART II. PERSIAN FABLES
Adapted from the translation by Sir Edwin Arnold included in Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

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© Copyright John Lubans 2019


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