(adapted from a Chinese fable)
Once upon a time, there lived a stonecutter. His job, all day long, was to hike through the mountains, break off slabs of rock, and carry the slabs back down to the village. Though stonecutting was strenuous work, the stonecutter was happily satisfied with his life. He had what he needed, and needed what he had.
However, one day, as the stonecutter ate his lunch, he peered down at the village below and saw something he had never seen before; the emperor. The stonecutter got to thinking, wow, wouldn’t it be nice to be the emperor; no more heavy lifting, no more slabs of rock, infinite funds, servants to do your work for you. It seemed like the perfect life. As the stonecutter sat there, staring down at the emperor, he wished and he wished, and then the magic happened…
All of a sudden, the stonecutter became the emperor! And life was great! When the emperor was hungry, food appeared before his eyes. When the emperor was tired, his pillows were fluffed. When the emperor was bored, people entertained him. He thought to himself, I doubt life could be any better than this.
But, one day, as the emperor was walking amongst his extensive fields of crops, he noticed something. The crops were having a particularly rough year; they looked all puny and fried from the hot sun. And come to think of it, that sun was pretty annoying shining down from the sky, scorching the earth and burning the back of the emperor’s neck. Though life as the emperor was pretty fantastic, he got to thinking, what would it like to be the sun? And the more the emperor thought, his thoughts became a wish, so he wished and he wished, and then the magic happened…
Before he knew it, the emperor became the sun! And life was fabulous. It was great to float around all day in the sky, shining down upon the earth and the life upon it. As the sun, he could make photosynthesis happen and grow plants on all the earth. When people annoyed him, he could send a few extra UVs their way and give them a little sunburn. But mostly, he enjoyed the happiness that ensued when his beautiful sunny rays shone down upon the earth.
One day, when the sun was shining down over his village, something strange happened. His rays were being blocked by something; there were big shadows appearing beneath him. Try as he might, his rays were just not getting through. Why was this happening? As the sun began to think, his thinking turned to wishing and he wished and he wished and then the magic happened…
Suddenly, the sun became a cloud, and life was fantastic! As a cloud, he could block all of the sun’s rays from reaching the earth. He could shape shift into all kinds of interesting shapes and sizes much to the amusement of the village children. And, perhaps his favorite activity of all; making it rain! The cloud loved seeing the plants grow bigger after a rain storm, he felt important knowing that life could not survive without water, and when he was feeling especially temperamental, he sent down a few lightning bolts for good measure. Life as a cloud was truly amazing; everything seemed to finally be set.
But, one day, when the cloud was floating about in the sky, he started drifting in a direction he had not planned. What was happening? Why could he not float in the direction of his choice? Who was interfering with his beautiful life? Though he couldn’t see the culprit, the cloud got to thinking, and the thinking turned to wishing. So he wished and he wished and then the magic happened…
Soon enough, the cloud became the wind! And life was even better! What fun it was to push the clouds about. He could make leaves blow off the trees, hair stand on end, and goosebumps appear on peoples’ arms. Once in a while, he sent tornados across the earth because spinning in circles certainly was fun.
One day, as wind was zipping through the air, he crashed into something hard. Wind circled around and tried to crash through with force; no such luck. Whatever this structure was, it was too massive to try to break through. What fun was it to be the wind if something was blocking your way? So the wind got to thinking and thinking turned to wishing, so he wished and he wished and then the magic happened…
That is when the wind became a mountain. And life was rockin’, seriously, he was made of rocks. As the mountain, he felt more powerful and important than ever before. Nothing could pass through him, not even the wind. Only the most elite climbers could make it up to the top of his snowy peaks. Artists painted his beauty, plants and animals lived among his base; life was practically perfect. There couldn’t possibly be any life better or more satisfying than the life of a mountain. It had been quite an interesting journey, and the mountain finally felt content.
But, one day, as the mountain was relaxing and reflecting on his life, he felt a little tickle. A few minutes later, he felt a little prick. What was happening? Being a mountain was supposed to be perfect, what was that uncomfortable annoyance? Ouch! Who was breaking off a chunk of his rock? As the mountain got to thinking, the thinking turned to wishing, and he wished and he wished and then the magic happened…
To his astonishment, the mountain became the stonecutter once again. He was back to his initial life of breaking off rock slabs and carrying them down the village. However, for the rest of the day, and from that day onward, the stonecutter never wished again. Though there were days he worked in the blazing sun, the wet rain, and the chilly wind, he never complained, for he was honestly quite content living life as the stonecutter. The life he had to start with ended up being the most satisfying of them all.
**This is one way we incorporate the arts and storytelling into our Level I curriculum. During Global Festival, students experience snapshots of different cultures around the world through games, crafts, and stories. Our stonecutter story is adapted from an old Chinese fable.