Isabella of "The Magnificent Octopus" wrote: "You can understand a lot about yourself by working out which fairytale you use to present your world to yourself in ... What fairytale are you?"
For this decade I choose the Japanese "Crane Maiden" because it contains the lesson I've been trying hardest to learn.
(This illustration, by the way, is by Chihiro Iwasaki, from a book version by Miyoko Matsutani.)
Classic tellings can be found here and here but here's my Cliff Notes version:
|For many years a poor couple hoped to have a child but had pretty much given up. One day the husband freed a crane from a trap and, coincidentally, a few days later a child just showed up at the door, and stayed to live with them. Their dream had been fulfilled.|
Seeing as how the couple is so hard up, the kid goes into a room each night, closing the door and weaving beautiful fabric which they can sell at market. Things are good.
The child requests they not peek when the door is shut. But of course one night they can't resist, and through the door they glimpse a beautiful white crane sitting at the loom. When the crane sees them, it flashes them a sorrowful, reproachful look and flies away forever.
So what's the moral?
- Jobekah: "There are times when we must accept the mystery of a person."
- A Japanese psychiatrist: it's about protecting the child from the mysteries of the mother.
- "Not every story has a happy ending."
Why The Americans Are So Restless In The Midst Of Their Prosperity: "Besides the good things that he possesses, he every instant fancies a thousand others that death will prevent him from trying if he does not try them soon. This thought fills him with anxiety, fear, and regret and keeps his mind in ceaseless trepidation, which leads him perpetually to change his plans..."
It will all work out: "The word kiasu comes from Hokkien. It means always wanting the best for oneself and trying hard to get it. ... We are ... fearful and greedy, for no good reason."
Wallowing in Excess: "When is enough, enough? ... Rather than savoring the pleasures of affluence we have achieved, we have abandoned the laws of thrift and embraced insatiable desire."
Thoughts on "enough": "I've gotten enough in this life. If I don't get more, it's ok ... Isn't this also known as, 'everything else is gravy?' ... Current challenges: ... To welcome people into my life, enjoy them for whatever time there is, and then say goodbye with generosity and without pain, grateful for the happy moments and not being regretful if there aren't more. Down with kiasu."
Oyb men est nit keyn beyner, tuen nit vey di tseyner.
If you don't eat bones, your teeth won't hurt.
Finally, just for fun, here's a sweet translation by Tsururin of a variant called "The Crane Wife." (Tsuru no Ongaeshi)
|Once upon a time, a poor guy was living all by himself.|
In winter it starts snowing so heavy.
He heard some sounds on the way home in heavy snow.
When he went to where the sounds came from, he found a crane caught in a trap.
He felt sorry for the crane and released it.
At the night he heard someone was knocking the door.
When he opened the door, wondering who came at this late night, he saw a beautiful girl.
She told him she got lost and asked him to let her stay one night.
Then he let her stay at the night and the next.
As they stayed together, they decided to get married.
They were poor but happy together.
But they became out of money and food because of the long winter.
One day the wife decided to weave a cloth and told the husband
"Never look inside while I'm weaving."
After she kept weaving for three days, she came out in fatigue.
However the cloth was so great to go for a good price, they became out of money and food again.
Then she decided to weave again and kept weaving for four days this time.
The cloth was so much greater to sell at better price.
He became to want to make more money and to wonder how she wove without any threads.
Therefore he asked her to weave again and opened the door to look inside.
Then he saw a crane weaving with her own feathers.
When he was so surprised to shout "crane is weaving!!" the crane changed into his wife.
The wife told him that she was the crane he helped and she has to leave
because he saw her weaving, despite she asked him not to.
However he regretted for breaking a promise, it was too late.
She changed into a crane and flied over the sky.
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