Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fables from the Forest

There was once a little porcupine that lived in the forest with all of his friends. But he was often sad, for he noticed that his friends played together. They laughed together and really seemed to enjoy each other. He really loved to watch them play together. He wanted to play with them too, but it always seemed when he drew near they stopped playing together. Some of them complained that he was there. Some grumbled and others actually told him to go away. This always hurt his feelings. Why didn’t they like him, he wondered? He was fast so he could do well in the running games. He was smart so he could do well in the thinking games and he had the right color so he could do well in the hiding games but it seemed no one wanted him around. He often went to the water’s edge and looked at himself in the water and pondered why they just didn’t want to play with him. He just didn’t understand it.  So he decided he would pay attention to what was happening the next time he went to play with his friends to see if he could understand why they always complained and sent him away.

The next day he went to play with his friends and determined to be the best friend he could be. So he saw his friends playing the running games. He went to join in. They said sure and he ran the fastest and beat them all to the finish line. Then he noticed a terrible smell. He said, “Who did that? That smells terrible.”  No one told him who did that then he noticed the skunk was blushing. “Did you do that?” he demanded. She didn’t respond. “I can tell you did that,” he declared. “That was awful.”

The little snail finally got to the finish line and spoke to the porcupine. He said, “She can’t help herself. She does that when she gets nervous.”

“Well,” the porcupine said, “that has got to stop. No one can play with that kind of smell around.”

The snail said, “If we don’t make her nervous, she won’t do that again.”

“Make her nervous? No one made her nervous. She did that because she is rude.”

“Oh no,” declared the snail, “She is not rude.”

“How would you know?” demanded the porcupine. “You weren’t even here. We got to the finish line miles ahead of you.”

With that the snail began to slip away. The porcupine walked over to get his first place ribbon and while he was doing that, he stepped in what the snail left behind. “Oh that is disgusting,” said the porcupine as he lifted his paw up from the puddle of slime he was standing in. “Really,” said the porcupine, “We have bathrooms for this kind of stuff. Could you hold it until you get away from us,” he said laughing. But no one laughed. “Hey come on, I said it as a joke. We have bathrooms…Come on why aren’t you all laughing?”

“It wasn’t funny,” said  bunny in the back.

“Ok fine, forget it,” declared porcupine. “Let’s play hide & seek and I will be it.” He proceeded to count to 10 and all the animals scattered except bunny. She sat motionless and on the count of 10 porcupine opened his eyes and yelled, “ I see bunny! I got you bunny, you are right in front of me. Can’t you hide better than that?” With that, he went off to find all the other animals. He found them all in record time. “That was fun,” he said “Let’s do it again.”  Beaver said he needed to go and porcupine said, “Don’t go. You are great at hiding unlike bunny who can’t seem to find a hiding place,” he quipped.

Turtle spoke up, “Why do you do that?"

“Do what?,” said porcupine. “Make fun of bunny. She can’t help it. When she gets scared she freezes. Hoping no one will see her because we see movement better than when someone is sitting still.”

“What did she have to be afraid of? We were only playing hide & seek.” She was probably afraid you were going to shoot your quills again,” responded turtle. “I do not shoot my quills,” retorted porcupine raising his voice. With that, turtle withdrew into his shell and one by one the animals all went home.

Porcupine went to the water’s edge and murmured and grumbled about how he really didn’t enjoy playing with them anyway. And he insisted to himself that he did not throw his quills. Why look how smooth and nice my quills look, he thought to himself as he looked at himself in the water. Look how nice my quills look laying down my back. They are out of their minds, he thought. I’ll find someone else to play with tomorrow.

The next day he noticed a group of frogs playing leap frog and he watched them jump over one another.
He practiced jumping. He thought to himself he could do that. “Hey guys, can I play leap frog with you?” he asked.

“No,“ they responded.

“Why not?” he questioned. “I would make a great challenge to jump over.”

“Yeah, right up until you lift your quills and we get stabbed, “ the frogs mocked.

“I don’t lift my quills,” he said as he looked at himself in the water. “See how smooth my quills are? You can jump over me.”

“You promise not to lift your quills?” inquired one brave frog.

“Of course I promise.”

I don’t lift my quills, he thought to himself.

So frog took a running leap and just as he got close to porcupine, the quills lifted and “ouch, oh ouch” cried frog as he tumbled onto the ground.

Porcupine began to laugh. ”What are you laughing at?” demanded one angry frog.

“Didn’t you see how he tumbled and crash after he tried to jump over me? It was so funny.”

“No it wasn’t,” insisted the angry frog. “You lifted your quills and made him crash.”

“I did not,” porcupine fired back.

“Oh yes you did! We all saw it,” frog said while all the frogs shook their heads in agreement.

“You're lying. You just don’t want to admit your friend can’t jump as high as me,” concluded porcupine.

“We can prove you lifted your quills. Look at our friend’s stomach” and the hurt frog showed porcupine all the puncture marks on his stomach.

“That proves nothing,” said porcupine. “He did that by his ridiculous landing.”

“Well you can forget it. We aren’t playing leap frog with you,” they all said together and with that they all stormed off together leaving porcupine all alone.

He took one look at himself in the water and reassured himself that he was as smooth as ever. For he was indeed completely smooth when he saw himself in the water.

Ker plunk went the noise in the water. Porcupine quickly reeled around. “What was that? he said.

“Just a rock I threw in the water,” owl said.

Turning in the direction of the voice, porcupine began to laugh when he saw owl. “What did you do? Fly into a cactus?” he mocked.

“No,” replied owl. “I just frightened you.”

“What do you mean?” questioned porcupine.

“These aren’t cactus spines as you thought. They are your quills sticking in me. You threw them when I
scared you with the rock in the water,” owl informed porcupine.

“I don’t throw my quills,” porcupine insisted.

“Really,” retorted owl. “Not only did you throw your quills but you raise them any time you get nervous or let anyone get close to you. Just like you did when frog got close to you to jump over you. You instinctively raised your quills to not let anyone get close to you,” explained owl.

“I do not do that. I did not do that to frog. He hurt himself when he landed,” insisted porcupine.

“Will you believe it if I prove it to you?” questioned owl.

“You can try, but I doubt you can prove to me something that is not true. I don’t believe you and I speak the truth.”

“Ok,” said owl. “Look into the water.”

“See just like I said, my quills are smooth and laying flat on my back.” Porcupine had almost not finished his sentence when owl silently flew over to him and porcupine could see owl and himself in the
reflection in the water and all his quills were standing straight up in the attack mode.

“What happened?” inquired porcupine. “Why are all my quills standing on edge”

“Look again,” said owl from the branch of a near by tree.

Porcupine looked at himself in the water and he was as smooth and as slick as he always saw himself. “Why I look like myself again. How did you do that?”  inquired porcupine.

“I didn’t do that,” said owl plucking the sharp barbs from his chest. “You did that.”

“I did that? How?” questioned porcupine.

“Whenever someone gets close to you, your barbs raise to protect yourself because you think in your mind someone is going to attack you. So as quickly as you think it your barbs are up. But when you are alone, thinking no one is going to attack you, you look in the water and you are relaxed and you see yourself as smooth. While you attack everyone and everything else assuring yourself you are not the problem. Then when you really get scared you throw your barbs like you did today when the rock landed in the water. I received many of those quills,” owl informed porcupine.

“You did?” questioned porcupine.

“Yes, those were not cactus spikes like you tried to laugh about. They were your quills,” explained owl.

“You mean you purposely scared me so I would shoot quills. Why would you do that?”

“To help you, my friend,” said owl.

“Did that hurt?” porcupine asked, seeing the blood drops on his feathers.

“Yes it did,” said owl. “But it is the only way I could convince you that it is your defense instincts that are
scaring your friends away.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well do you remember how you made fun of bunny for not hiding well?” asked owl.


“She didn’t run and hide because when you closed your eyes to count, you were afraid of the dark for just one second and you threw some quills which almost hit bunny. So when she got scared she froze and you laughed and made fun of her which made the others not want to play with you.”

“I did that?” questioned porcupine.

“Yep. You have never realized what you do that causes others to be afraid of you and pull away from you which makes you even more afraid that they will hurt you so the very second someone gets close to you, you automatically lift your quills like you did when you saw me and you together for the first time reflected in the water and you saw all your quills standing straight up because if I am close to you, you think I  will hurt you so you automatically put your quills up.”

“What do I do?” porcupine questioned.

“Ask your friends to forgive you for blaming them. Take responsibility for the fact that you do lift your quills and you do throw your quills. And ask them to help you to not defend yourself. Instead love your friends. Be kind to them. Don’t make fun of them when they walk in their natural defenses like bunny standing still, skunk letting out a smell, snail leaving a trail behind, and turtle hiding in his shell. Love them knowing they are working to get rid of their bad instincts too and renewing their minds to think a new way to walk, talk and love one another.”

So one by one porcupine asked his friends to forgive him for acting like there was nothing wrong with him and treating them with such unkindness. Then he asked them to help him not to attack them and defend himself like he used to, and sometimes you can see them even laughing with each other. For they now have learned to forgive each other in this new kingdom rather than use their old natural defenses and be bitter towards each other. Now they love living in the new kingdom and have learned to hate their real enemy who had taught them to be unkind one to another.

Written by
Dave P. Davies

Copyright © 2013 Dave P. Davies

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