There was a man who lived in a small village in the middle of a valley, near a tall mountain, hidden by tall stones and safety nestled in the arms of the country. He would go out, every day, to a river near the village, scoop some water, and bring it back home for his own needs. The farmers farmed, the children learned, sang and dance, the husbands worked, the teachers taught, the warriors(?) guarded, the people all laughed, celebrated, talked, dreamed, and took care of each other the way society was intended. This man one day followed the river to its source and found a little paradise. There were trees 80 feet tall, little beavers building down the dam, birds singing, fish swimming, insects feasting, even from the littlest pig to the biggest bear, all the animals lived together and took care of each other as was intended. The man gasped in disbelief! The air was clean, the water pure, the trees tall and wide, the stones smooth, the animals braying and talking, the sun shining, and the whole world in balance. The man asked a nearby monkey if he could have a tree seed to take home and raise, as a reminder of this place. The monkey said, “very well, but you have to follow these three rules. You must water the tree everyday, you must plant it somewhere it has space to grow, and you must take this dog and treat him as your own.” The man agreed, and received a seed from the forest to take home and raise into a full forest of his own.
So the man left the forest with the seed and went back to the small village, planting the seed that very night. As the monkey requested, he brought water from the river to sprinkle on the seed, he cleared plants so the seed would have space to grow, and he took the dog into his home, making sure it was well fed and happy. But soon, other villagers were concerned about the man’s behavior. They said that he loved the plant in his garden more than his own mother, that dog was closer than any human being, that he fell in love with the planet more than his own people. They said he wasn’t right. However, he wasn’t harming anyone, and so they let him live in peace.
So the plant grew from a little seed into a sapling, into a yearling, and then into a tree over many years, with the man’s dog running into the village, stirring up trouble with the kids, disturbing tea, pulling at the ruler’s pants, running away with the warrior’s weapons, and being yelled at, scolded, hit around, and generally considered Both a nuisance and a waste of space. The dog took all this in stride, for even though he was a dog, the villagers still gave him scraps, and treated him with affection even alongside the abuse. He would bring back soil for the man to place on the tree, which the man did. The tree grew even more, and soon people began to say that the man’s house was special. The water ran clearly, the air was fresh, the garden was shaded, his wife was smiling in the sunlight, and even during the night time the wind rustled there happily. The man’s dog was happy, the wife was happy, their dog was happy, and she was even rumored to have a child on the way. All was as intended.
The villagers all would talk about it everyday, and they would look at the man only to ask him questions on how his land was so prosperous and fine, how he was able to keep his house in such good repair, and more. They were even more jealous when he brought the smallest apple to the market one day, so it could be appraised for its worth. The villagers were upset.
And as the smells in the town worsened and the sky was clouded with buildings, and the people were hungry, the tree grew just fine.
One day, someone had enough. He yelled in the streets about the tree bringing misfortune to the town, and then a storm hit! There was thunder bang, bang bang, lightning setting fire to the houses with a CRACK, the river was overflowing, and everyone was in chaos. One child, now an adult, rapped at the door to the man’s home. The man opened it. The adult yelled, “You did this! Your tree brought the wrath of the heavenly beings! No man should have a tree, no wife should bear a son so soon, no home should be carried through hard times so well! It’s your fault, your good luck brought us all misfortune!”
The man had no response, for he was keeping shelter while the storm was raging on outside. The man let the adult in, and offered him safety and some food before the heavy rain passed. Then, after settling in, the man swept into the true statement.
“The other villagers are coming by to chop down your tree.” The man began weeping, for he had no forest to roam in, no small birds nearby, no bees, no flowers, and soon, no tree to even sit in by the shade when the days were hot and long. His wife comforted him, and his son reassured him he would find that forest, so the man was appeased. Then, while the family was comforting each other, they heard a heavy thud.
Outside, the tree was being swiftly chopped down. Thud. A man swung an axe and took the trunk out. Thud. Another chop.
The tree, which was still bearing fruit, was slowly being removed. All the apples, pears, plums, peaches, and even the squash which grew by the roots, was being cut down to size.
Soon, the tree fell, and the water shook out of its leaves, to fall with a crash, and so the tree was gone.
The man and his son wept, as his wife escorted the stranger outside. Soon afterwards, the storm cleared, and the skies were open and blue again. The man took the tree’s death in stride, and the three of them soon left their house in that small valley, taking the dog back to the beginning of the river, and the man told the monkey what happened.
The monkey said, “That is what happens to all good things. Even the dearest gift can be destroyed, and the finest fruit lost.” The man and his family bade the forest goodbye, then left for a slightly further home, still near the river’s edge.
Of course, the villagers talked to each other about the man, and about how they were grateful he was gone. Another man soon bought his house, but deep down, there was a sadness that he left. His dog had brought some joy to the children, and his house was a nice place to visit. He was a kind, respectful sort, and one small girl even admitted she missed him, but was hushed over the strange things he kept in his garden.
Even if you visit his house, he would be gone. And society was as intended.