A Short but Intense Life

“Today’s lesson is a story,” said the Tao, “It is a story of colorful flags that were fluttering on a line above the high desert. It was a beautiful summer’s day. The sky was bright blue, the wind was strong, the flags were flying high. They were feeling rather happy, and a few of them said, ‘Look at us! We have such a charmed life. Living in this wonderful place, freely fluttering in the breeze, radiating the joy all the way up to the heavens. It does not get much better than this!’ But there was a blue flag in the corner who did not share this emotion. She said, ‘Yes, it is beautiful here. But do you see that your freedom is an illusion? That you are tied to the ground?’ The red flag in the middle sneered, ‘Well, if you do not like it here, why don’t you leave?’ ‘Yes, I would love to let go, I would love to fly away if you would only help me cut loose,’ the blue flag said. So they did, and she flew away, free as the wind.” “

What happened, then?” asked a student.

“The answer depends on who you are,” said the Tao.

“Tell us, O Tao,” the student implored.

“The flags on the line sighed collectively, ‘That is the end of her’.”

“And the blue flag? What did she say?”

“The blue flag joyously said, ‘Hurrah to new beginnings,’ as she flew away.” “End of story?” asked the student, clearly wanting more.

“Almost ,” said the Tao, “ ... years later, an obituary appeared in a newspaper in a distant exotic land. ‘She lived a short but intense life,’ it said.”


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