This is something originally wrote by me during my initial period in my company…..this is a modified version thats put on the corporate intranet.
This story speaks of a winter. It was a winter to some and a summer to some. But the pessimist in me wants to talk about the winter. So, here goes…
This story speaks of a winter. A cold and dark one at that but it did come after spring. Yes, there was a time when the birds flew freely in the sky, squirrels spent lazy days together with nothing but dalliance in their minds. But then came a sorcerer. He seemed like what the predecessor of Ford Prefect who came to earth and saw before hurrying off, scribbling “Mostly harmless”. But little did the creatures know his ways were distinct and his plans deep, with levels of foresight than the best chess AI.
He promised them fun, food and love. He promised them stuff they had not even heard about, but felt they could do with since he made a big deal about it. They listened to him with both ears and if they had a third one, they would not have hesitated listening with that too. Was he a good orator? No, they would not say that, but as the wild geese later quacked meekly, “There was something about him.” Was he poetic? They would not say that either, but as the rats later confessed, nibbling their little nuts, “There was something about him …”
The creatures listened with delightful expectation and uninterrupted concentration as he cast this well-practiced spell, his voice waxing and waning with intent. Then he laughed a laugh, not evil, but one that spoke of intense satisfaction, satisfaction of a job well done, a spell well cast. By this time the creatures had left earth, they were dreaming of greener pastures, darker chocolate, greener ‘hasins’ (even though they did not know what it was, but they figured that since he emphasizing it that much, it must be worth having) and what not.
The time had come for him to leave, to go to other forests, to tell other about the good news. The news of this ‘Great New Forest’. A forest all could only dream about. But was it the last time they would hear from him. Unfortunate for some it would be because they could not convince him that they wanted it badly enough or was it he did not want them enough? Who could tell? Anyway, for of the some happy critters, it would not be last time they would meet him. Actually, it was far from last in one sense and not too far from it in another.
The ones who could not convince him were sad for obvious reasons, but the others were even sadder, since he asked them to wait and learn the tricks of the trade till the spring was over, so that they could readily fit into the new forest. They were sad since they had to wait, worse still they had to learn for they had to maintain a CNEG (Common Nom Eaning Grade) in the AFCT (All Forests Creatures Test).
So they studied. For this story to sell in most forests I would have to tell that they studied hard, but lest the computer on which I am typing hang, I am going to refrain from doing so. My humble note to forests creatures reading the electronic version is that I will be correcting this anomaly in the print, if it ever goes to print, as long as the printing machine does not go bust.
And the D-Day finally arrived. Actually the D-Day was different for different animals since they were invited to join the forests at different times so there was no D-Day as such but for the sake of sensational effect in this write up D-Day exists.
Getting back…The D-Day arrived and animals were feeling great, nervous with anticipation. Scared of the denizens of the new forests and nauseated because of the taste difference of the grass and leaves of the new forest. BUT they were feeling great.
They arrived from far and wide, spoke different dialects of the forest slang, some hardly recognizable by others but they were united in one thing (and in most test samples of two animals this thing alone), their being selected to be the new age forest.
They assembled in a large clearing in the forest specially constructed for welcoming the new comers. The older ones had tagged along with their children to see what was new in this “new” forest.
The ceremony started, with the present animals talking about how different the new forest is, recollecting their past experiences from other forests. The new ones and even the old ones that tagged along were awed by the what was said, but some of their faces gave away a look, a strange look that can be found in history umpteen times. A look which is neatly described in the fable “The Emperor’s Clothes”. But some were genuinely awed.
Coming back to our forest and more specifically to the clearing we were talking about, the speeches were over. The animals were not totally clear about what was said in the last 1-2 hours but they were happy, not only because the other also seemed just as confused as them but mainly because it was lunch time…FREE lunch time. They ate to their hearts content and their stomachs’ limit…and a bit more, for today they could call themselves residents of the new age forest. The older ones talked among them of how wonderful the new forest seemed to be, each trying desperately to figure at least one thing good so that they would not seem stupid. They dispersed, the young to their new caves and temporary trees and the old started their long journey back, a bit happy, a bit sad.
They rose early; they did not want to miss out anything from their first actual day at the new forest but if I were to lead you to believe that this became a habit I would be lying. They had been asked to assemble in the clearing before the shadow of the great oak tree crossed the newer oak tree. And they actually assembled before there was any actual shadow at all.
They waited. And while they waited they talked. The different dialects were a problem but they managed, made friends. But there were some who were too scared to leave their old forest group. Others started talking as if they had known the others for years.
Finally the older animals arrived. Leading them was a fox. He seemed mature for his age. His posture reflected years of sedimentary work and his wide forehead radiated the aura of a person with years of experience and excellent at skills of both foresight and hindsight, a cross between the Oracle and the Merovingian . He stood at the center. He looked around. His deep eyes cut through every one. The cacophony that existed slowly ceased and as he cleared his throat, the animals could hear the leaves fall.
“Good Morning New Crits, Hope you had a good sleep…”
The more attentive ones (mostly the ones at the front replied) a bleak “yesss.”
“I didn’t HEAR that…”
“That’s more like it.”
“I am sure all of you will be eager to start living in this new forest with us…”
“Now we will be allocating you roles to play in the new forest…”
The animals stood perplexed. Roles? They could not figure out what he was talking about. There were traces of a murmur that faded away as he began to speak again.
“Right then, I will be reading out the names of those who have been selected for the squirrel position…”
The perplexed looks on the creatures’ faces grew ten-fold. Squirrel position? Who would be more suited to be a squirrel rather than a squirrel himself? But they were too scared to speak out lest they do it out of place and context. They thought that if the others are content with it, it must be a natural thing as we are taught from the time we are born that it’s better to walk with the group. Actually taught is a strong word. The more appropriate phrase should be ‘lead to believe’, but let’s leave aside the technicalities and let’s get on with the story without being bored too much.
A string of names followed…most of them were squirrels themselves but there were some rats and even an elephant among them. Then the names stopped. But the remaining squirrels, though few in number, huddled together scared at why they were left out. In the next one hour they were allotted roles but instead of easing their anxiety it just multiplied since they just could not understand what they would be doing in the role of a rat and an elephant.
Then they divided into their respective groups and started to get to know each other form their team. They found out that even the other animals were as confused as they were. Then they had a bit of escape from reality and its jagged ends during "team building activities" which they thoroughly enjoyed. And no one later took up the issue and even if someone did no one knew but strangely though one or two squirrels who were initially left out were put back.
And the next day the training started for assimilation into the new forest. Some critters complained since teaching a squirrel the basics of being a squirrel seemed a waste of time to them. But they had to calm down and literally slow down for the elephant and rats to catch up with them but eventually the others reached and some even overtook the squirrels. Also, though the elephant had to be careful not to crush his fellow team mates during their various activities but rapport between then reached newer dizzy heights previously thought impossible in an ordinary forest.
And two months went off just like that. In a more practical sense, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times There were times when they had nothing to do and spent the whole day whiling away at the training water hole and there were other days when they had to decrease the number of breaths they take to submit the various training tasks. Their initial doubts, though still lingering in their minds, were swept under the little doormat in the back of their brains during these two months as they seemed to be partially justified.
Finally, the ‘Tree Allotment Day’ came. The forest was divided into different sectors with specific vegetation and each vegetation was again divided into different trees and groups of animals were to be allotted a tree where they would do their work. Everybody was anxious. It was more like the one you feel while awaiting the results of the exam. Not saying that that anxiety doesn’t have as many layers as an onion but I’d rather not go deep into that now. Their brains were getting thoroughly cleaned and all the dust accumulated under the doormat got the first rays of sunlight for the first time in two months. Well not really the first time in two months for the ambitious ones as they were real nerds, never good at sweeping anything, both in real life and in their heads.
So they waited. The person came gave them another speech about trust and the non-importance of what tree we get, because in his own words "a tree is just a tree", you will outlive a tree and move onto others and then the old tree would become irrelevant in a sense. The pessimistic ones among then saw that as a way of tendering meat before cutting them into small, small pieces but then again they were a minority
The allotments were read out, but it was evident that even though a tree is a tree, some trees are more tree than a tree. Animals were getting certain trees but contrary to the first division (into animal roles) lesser critters were disappointed. One way of seeing this was that initially when the critters came, they were young, their blood was warm and expectations impractically high. Therefore, they got disappointed easily but now after the initial experience they had leant to be more practical and were better prepared to take the tree allotment news. This is just my theory, though.
And their forest life finally began…they were creatures of new forest.
Okay, after all this pessimism, let go ask an important question. Were the critters happy? For example, if the elephant in the squirrel “domain” put his skills and mind to it, he might one day become the head squirrel and get the all the respect that he could have got if he had been in a elephant’s role or probably even more BUT its upon him to realize that and be happy. So, was it a summer or a winter? I leave it to you to decide.
In conclusion, I would like to leave the reader pondering over Stephen Covey’s 90-10 rule. It states that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you, 90% of life is decided by how you react.