First, here’s the viral humor (we need it), brought to us from a friend in cyberspace. (Thanks, Tom!)
Second, a good message from one of the books I love, as promised yesterday, to help us cope with this weird health crisis. The story below tells of an encounter between a typical bureaucrat and a magical, yet very anxious goldfish.
“One day, when I was walking along a road, I suddenly heard someone calling me. I looked around, but saw nobody. When I looked down, it turned out to be a carp calling me from a dried rut. I went over to it, and asked, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ The carp, gasping, replied, ‘I am a minister of the God of the East Sea. I was swept here by a rainstorm, and now I cannot get back. I will soon die, unless you bring me a pail of water and put me in it.’ I said, ‘Of course, I can do that. But you must wait until I persuade the sovereigns of the states of Wu and Yue to allow me to use water from the Xijang River.’ Hearing this, the carp said, ‘Distant water cannot quench present thirst. You’ll find me in the dried fish market tomorrow!'”*
This cryptic fable was written some 2,200 years ago, by a writer unknown by most of us (Zhuang Zi, c. 369 B.C. — 286 B.C.) who is very famous in China as a chief representative of the Taoist School.
You gotta love a talking goldfish, of course! How even cooler is it that this goldfish is shrewd and critical. For our purposes, the fable provides moral urgency and a sober punchline. “Distant water cannot quench present thirst.” Take it to mean anything you need: if you’re angry about the government’s actions, it works for you. If you’re in despair over getting access to a mask or test, it works for you.
However, it could be a more uplifting lesson too. If you, like me, are staying home to “shelter in place” and allow the coronavirus time to sweep through your region without adding to the casualties, give yourself credit. You are, in effect, giving water to present thirst. You’re feeding the quotient of healthy people so that we can resist the invisible enemy.
Thank you for helping, in any way you can! And hang in there; we’re in it for the long duration, I think. I’ll be back tomorrow with another good thought (and more humor, I hope).
*Zhang Fuxin, The Story of Zhuang Zi, trans. Zhang Tingquan (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2003), pp. 183-184.