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July 2, 2008 Posted by tahir in Travel

Desert

Once upon a time there lived a man who loved the sun and its heat so greatly that he sold up all his possessions and bought a ticket to the capital of a sprawling Saharan country. When he had arrived, been robbed a couple of times, and threatened a couple more, he set out to buy himself a small farm in the desert.

Very soon he had paid all the money he possessed to a con-man for a piece of land unwanted by anyone else. 
The man could hardly understand what was driving him. He knew that there must be a reason, a real one, that his unconscious mind had not yet revealed to him. And he knew that the only way to follow satisfaction was by following his mind’s plan. So that’s what he did.
Days passed, then weeks and months. The man made a simple life for himself. He got a dog, a cat, and a flock of ostriches, which he raised from chicks. They would follow him about, as if he were their master. He lived on their eggs, their meat and, from time to time when people passed, he would sell them fabulous fans made from the feathers.
One day an eagle was flying high above the desert dunes searching for prey. He spotted a group of specks below and, assuming them to be food of some sort, he descended sharply. Gradually, as he lowered, he realised that the specks were giant flightless birds, a joke creature as far as eagles were concerned.
The eagle landed on the sands near to where the ostriches were preening themselves for mites.
‘I am an eagle,’ he said proudly, ‘king of the birds.’
The ostriches didn’t even look up. So the eagle repeated himself, splaying his razor-sharp talons as he did so.
Just then, the man came out of the shack. Spotting the eagle, the ostriches scurried over to their master’s shadow and plunged their heads in the cool sand.
The man picked up a sharp stone and weighed it in his hand.
‘If you don’t go off at once, i’ll kill you,’ he said.
The eagle preened the feathers of his crest and didn’t budge. He smiled.
‘Are you not frightened of me?’ said the man angrily.
‘Why should I be?’ replied the eagle.
‘Because I am a man and animals are fearful of men.’
Again the eagle preened, a little slower than before. Then he said:
‘I can fly high into the air, and see a mouse from the heavens. I can live off the land, kill without tools, and right at this moment I could scratch out your eyes.’ he paused. ‘And what about you?’ he asked.
‘What about me?’ said the man.
‘You,’ said the eagle disdainfully, ‘can do none of these things and, what’s more, you rule over birds that are both flightless and terrified. See how their heads are in the dirt behind where you stand! But your greatest foolishness is to think you are superior in the face of the truth.’
The man dropped the stone onto the ground.
‘In the months since I left my country and came here to the desert,’ he said, ‘I have wondered again and again why I forced myself to come. And now that I have heard your words, I realise that they are the reason. They are the lesson I was waiting to receive. I am guilty of thinking myself better, far better, than you and everything else out here in what we would call a wilderness. I am feeble beyond all imagination, unsuited to this place, and yet I presume to be superior all the same.’
And the man stepped forward, knelt before the eagle, and together they laughed.
TS