Better than the young man’s knowledge is the old man’s experience
Once upon a time in a village of gossip, laughter, and confusion lived an old man named Hershel. Hershel was the wisest man in town, though much of the younger generations thought he was stuck in the old ways and needed to convert to the way of life in that generation. Hershel’s wife had died many years ago, and the only family that he had left was his only son, Martin. Martin had a beautiful wife, Meredith. Meredith did like to gossip with friends, but she always tried to keep her family out of the gossip. Martin and Meredith seemed to be the perfect couple, always seen walking throughout the village hand in hand. They were expecting a beautiful baby girl in a few months, and that was supposed to be the only news that the town was supposed to talk about that involved them…
Hershel, knowing that he only had a few weeks left to live per doctor’s advice, he met with Martin on a grassy field that stretched miles and miles with no people, houses, or distractions.
“Martin, I’m going to be gone from this world soon, but I want you to pay close attention and understand two things that matter the most in life. For if you remain faithful to these two things that I’m going to tell you, you will flourish. If you fail to remain faithful, you will wilt.”
Martin, eyes full of tears turned and said: “Dad, I’ll be okay. Share your wisdom and I shall listen.”
“The first key to happiness is to never trust your wife with your secrets until you’ve had ten children. The second is to choose your friends by the color of their eyes,” Hershel said firmly.
Confused, Martin said, “The color of their eyes?”
“Yes son, the color of their eyes. Don’t friend anyone with light colored eyes. Make sure that the whites of the eyes are pure white and don’t stray from that. Make sure the pupil is deep black. As long as you follow those two guidelines to happiness, life will not disappoint you.”
As they made their way back to the village, Martin replayed the conversation in his head. He recalled that he had five good friends: two friends had light blue eyes, one had yellow eyes, one had brown eyes, and one had dark green eyes with yellowing in the whites of the eye, only one of which met his fathers stipulations.
One week later Hershel passed away. Wanting to make his father proud, Martin lived by his two promises. He went on a walk in order to clear his mind and figure out how to continue life. After hours had passed with no probable answer he returned to the house, still confused. While pondering on many different thoughts he heard:
“Baby, come quick, hurry,” Meredith was screaming at the top of her lungs from the other side of the house.
When he entered the room there lay the most gorgeous baby girl. She had given birth without him there for support. Overjoyed and proud of his wife and newborn Martin took a step in the relationship that he would forever regret. He blurted out the two different keys to happiness, and continued by reliving many different secrets he had kept.
Two weeks later, Martin turned very suspicious on his father’s two keys to happiness and decided to put Meredith to the test. He passed by dead roadkill, bagged it into a large burlap sack and placed it over his shoulder, blood still gushing from the recent death. Meredith was waiting at the front door for him.
“Baby, come quick, I need your help,” he shouted.
“I killed a man.”
Hurriedly, Meredith grabbed a shovel and they both ran to the creek to hide the “dead body.” She was so supportive of him the next few days until…
Martin and Meredith got into a huge heated argument over the raising of their baby girl. They argued for hours when Meredith ended the argument with, “Well you know what.. You’re not fit to be a father for you killed a man and for that I’m going to tell the police.” That’s when Martin immediately knew that his father was right.
“This is the police, open up.”
Martin ran to grab the door.
“Sir, you’re under arrest for the killing of an unidentified person, you have 1 day until we return for identification purposes.”
In this day, Martin met with all five of his friends. When he told the whole story of what had happened, four of his friends in agreement said, “You made a mistake in faking a death, you have to suffer consequences for we will not help you,” and walked away. The last friend spoke, “Brother, I will save you if I can for you are of no wrong doing.”
This friend begged and plead with the police officer until he made an even trade with trading the officer his weight in silver. Martin was overjoyed. Though he didn’t need second conformation on his father’s teachings, he had confirmation anyways. And with that, the old are wise and have much knowledge that the young do not.
Author’s Note: In the original story, there were no character names just “the man, the father, the official, etc.” The father gave his sons the same two keys to happiness, but the son was not married until after the death of his father. After spilling his secrets after their first child and to test his wife in the original story, the man killed a pig, made a promise with the guy he bought it from to keep secret, and carried it home over his shoulder in a bag. I didn’t want to kill a pig, so I brought in the idea of just using roadkill. The man still confided in his five friends and had the same outcome in the original story, but I gave more foreshadowing and justice. They also used “officials” instead of police and planned to behead him for the murder. I changed much of the story up, but the overall meaning was still the same, to trust the wise basically. I’m a huge Walking Dead fan and I thought that this old man had character traits similar to that of Hershel’s, which is why I gave him that name. However, I didn’t really relate the rest of the story to anything TWD.
Tibetan Folktales, written by A.L. Shelton and illustrated by Mildred Bryant. This text can be accessed online here.
99 Famous Tibetan Proverbs can be accessed online here.
Image 1: The setting in the 19th century comparable to that of this village. The image can be accessed online here from Wikipedia.