501 Prompts is my way to use imagination to come up with made up worlds, characters and plots and combine them to form into something like a story.
Here’s how it works: prepare an idea, write for — hold on. The past month I’ve been working with Fables and Koans as prompts. This week I’m writing my own.
Enjoy this week’s Fables!
The Bear and the Fox
A bear and a fox lived on opposite sides of a river. The bear only caught a few fish and survived eating berries and roots. Every day the fox had much fish to show for on his side of the river. When the birds flew south in fall, the fox’s display suddenly stopped. Just before the first snow fell, the bear had grown enough to hibernate. The fox crossed the frozen river. He was thin all the way to his bones.
“Oh friend, I relied on the birds to catch the fish for me to impress others. Had I spent my time learning to get by, I would do just fine like you.”
— This fable is for people who are too preoccupied with what others might think and forget to worry about the essential.
The Farmer and the Gold Nugget
There was a farmer who lived in a decent house with his family. One day a traveling salesman came by and offered him a unique opportunity. “You can have this giant gold nugget in exchange for all of your possessions.” The farmer was blinded by the golden shine and agreed. Only after finishing the trade, he noticed that the supposed gold, in reality, was just a painted boulder.
Think twice before accepting a deal that looks too good to be true.
Who Are You?
Miyake, a Zen master, was sent to visit a village on the other side of the country. It was said that there lived a parrot that was the first animal that had reached enlightenment. The village elder brought her to its giant golden cage where people from across the region brought the bird presents to gain its favor.
The whole village watched when Miyake stepped up to the cage to test the animal’s wisdom.
“Who are you?” creaked the bird.
“I am Miyake,” she answered honestly as if to engage in conversation with him. The parrot, however, asked again. “Who are you?”
“I am here to verify the claims about your wisdom.”
Unfazed, the bird repeated its question.
This time Miyake thought for a while before answering.
“I came from a noble house and married into an influential family. The war made me poor and a widow before I joined the monastery. Now I am just a simple monk.
Still, the parrot didn’t relent.
“I am human. Like everyone, I have found joy and suffering in my lifetime and dedicated the rest of my time on earth to seek enlightenment to make right by those around me.”
For a moment, it seemed like Miyake had given the right answer, but then its question returned. “Who are you?”
Miyake threw her arms up in a fit of frustration. “I am completely lost.”
Only then the bird remained silent and looked at her knowingly.
The Animal’s Gathering
Before time began, all animals came together to discuss how they should live together. The discussion quickly became heated, and they were arguing back and forth.
Some wanted to roam in big herds. Others preferred living in smaller groups. Some even want to stay alone. Some animals wished to live on land, others dive in the seas, and again others conquer the skies.
They couldn’t decide on anything and went to the old and wise tortoise.
“How am I supposed to run with the herd?” it asked the grazing animals.
“Nor can I keep up with a smaller group,” it said to the others.
“I cannot swim, I cannot fly.”
“What should we all do then?” they asked.
“What do I know? I’m just an old tortoise. I do what I can do best, and so should you.”
— There are as many different people as there are animals. Everyone finds the way of life that fits them best. Embrace diversity for it enriches our society.
The People vs. Hermes
The citizens of the world were angry with Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. He had opened his domain for them to use, and the people used it. With all kinds of news, messages, and images, they sent the birds out and were shocked that everyone had free access to their deepest secrets and emotions. In reaction, they blamed it all on Hermes.
“It is not my fault that you are blinded by possibilities and not thinking about consequences. The world is big, and not everyone has your best interest at heart. Be careful what you are willing to share for everyone to see.”
The Dog and the Cat
There was a dog that tried to catch mice in a field. It kept digging up hole after hole without success. The cat watched the dog and its failed attempts. “If I were you, I would give up that hopeless endeavor,” it mocked the dog.
“I enjoy digging holes regardless if I ever catch anything,” the dog answered. “When I die one day, I’ve lived a rich and joyful life. Can you say the same?”
— Find joy in whatever it is your doing regardless of the outcome.
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