Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Interesting Twist, on One of my Favorite Fables...

A frog was hopping along in the forest, heading home to her family, when all of a sudden she came upon a small river. Now, the frog, being a great swimmer as frogs are, was about to leap into the river in order to cross it - when she heard a voice:
"Is there any chance, kind lady, that you can help me across this river? For I cannot swim."

The frog turned toward the direction of the voice, and was startled to see a scorpion moving toward her on the river bank. Now, everyone knows the history of scorpions - they sting and have a deadly poison. So the frog was understandably a bit frightened, and trembled as she asked the scorpion:

"If I help you across the river, will you promise not to sting me? You see, I am on the way home to my family and they would miss me terribly."

The scorpion answered:

"Kind lady, I understand your concern, but I too am on the way home to my family, and if I sting you, we would both drown, and who wants that? Besides, contrary to what you may have heard, I only sting for self defense - like if a fox should try to eat me. Please do me this great favor - I would be so grateful!"

The frog considered the scorpion's words, which didn't seem like the words of a killer. She thought to herself: "I mean no harm to the scorpion, why should he sting me? If he stings me, we will both drown, and he must value life as much as I. If I help him, he will be my friend - because he knows that I am a nice frog. As my friend, the scorpion would surely tell all the other scorpions that I am a friend, and that they too should never sting me! And they wouldn't sting my frog family or my frog friends either! And we frogs would be more than happy to help all scorpions cross the rivers! And maybe all the scorpions would help protect all the frogs and other small creatures from the truly dangerous creatures of the forest!"

By this time, the frog was so excited about helping the scorpion that she didn't want to even start thinking of reasons not to help. Besides the danger was too scary to think about - compared to the wonderful future that awaits the frogs and other small creatures of the forest with this new era of cooperation. "It will truly be a paradise.", she thought. So the frog crouched down and let the scorpion jump onto her back. She then hopped into the river with the scorpion on her back and began swimming - and she swam beautifully, as frogs do. But when they got to the middle of the river she felt something painful in her side.

"Ouch!" said the frog, "What was that???"

"I just stung you.", said the scorpion.

The frog began to feel the poison take effect. It became harder for her to move, harder to swim. She thought about the paradise of universalistic brotherhood that could have been, and she cried out to the scorpion:

"Why did you do that?! Now we will both drown - we could have been friends! Perhaps you can save yourself; swim to the other side!"

But it was too late, and scorpions can't swim. As they began to sink, the scorpion answered:

"I am not like you; we don't care about dying or making friends. We lie and sting. It is our nature, didn't you know that?"

The frog and the scorpion sank fast to the bottom of the river, and the frog thought about the scorpion's question.

"Yes.", thought the frog, still puzzled that frogs and scorpions should think and act differently, after all, they are both small creatures of the forest. "Maybe I said or did something to anger him...?!", thought the frog.

-Author Unknown...still

I adore the original version of this tale, always have, even as a child it struck a chord in me. The one, essential line that says it all... "I could not help myself, it is my nature". So when I saw that someone had written a new twist on it, I read it, skeptical though because I do believe classics should remain that way, for most often they're rarely improved upon and seldom matched. Though I found myself, smiling. I suppose they made it a bit more user friendly, so to speak. All the things the original gave us, without saying, that made us think, this included. The cliffs notes version more or less. Still, it remains a favorite tale of mine. At our very core, we cannot help ourselves, it is, truly, in our nature. There is no line, nothing that expresses it as bluntly as so. That said, we do have different natures. The frog, would have always given the scorpion a ride, and the scorpion would have always stung him/her. We are what and who we are. The thing that made me laugh towards the end was that the frog was questioning whether she, herself, was at fault. It links back to our inability to see others natures, understand them, if they are not in sync with our own. The fact of the matter is, people rarely change, we do, but it is rare. This is why we see people riding the merry go round over and over again, each time, complaining because it is not the ride they want to take, and yet they continue to get back on the damn thing. Thus, we have the definition of insanity. The inability to step away from ourselves and change our patterns... If I were the frog, I would say no, easy for me to sit here and type that, knowing how it ends, but, the scorpion was no friend of mine and I am not a fan of the odds nor am I a fan of gambling, particularly roulette, of the russian nature. If I were the scorpion, I would have been a patient one and stung the bastard at the shore, if that were my nature. That's me now, not me 5 years ago, however... but that thus defeats the essential purpose of the story, we are who we are... we just have to learn to accept that and be comfortable with it, though oddly enough, as human beings and we can even see this is horror/thriller movies... dramas, tv shows, we have that essential, burning desire, to know why? That's why we open the door in the middle of a horror film and see if anyone is outside. When really, it can just be as simple as, because I can and because it's who I am. It is in my nature... but many of us, I believe,  don't know our own natures... or we our frogs that wish to be scorpions. That's why I think I always admired the scorpion, not for his actions, but because, he knew, that was who he was and didn't apologize for it, he just accepted it and drowned... and though he didn't fight to live, he didn't fight himself while he lived.

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