The Monk who fell in love with the sky

There once was a young monk who had secret ambitions of becoming a writer. His problem was he felt ashamed to tell anyone about it, so that each time somebody would ask what he had been up to with his time, he held his tongue and after a few moments, pointed toward the sky.

This was a trick his master had taught him. When you are confused, his master said, just point to the sky and nod as if you were on the brink of something profound, like enlightenment, or something.

The monk was generally speaking a loyal monk, and so he listened to his master’s advice. And although the monk did in fact write many things, anytime someone would ask to see what he wrote, he would keep on pointing up to the sky just as he had always done. Anyway, he reasoned, it didn’t make sense to tell people ‘I have been writing’ unless he was writing at that very moment, that is, unless he was writing all the time, which was something physically impossible to do and to talk about at the same time. Yes – the monk thought to himself without actually saying – there is such an enormous difference between the writer being and the writer doing.

So it was that the monk gradually grew ashamed of wanting to be a writer, and he never did learn to think of himself that way. Not with in any reasonable assurance, at least. Not without his master or his master’s gods getting all upset about it and berating him in his ear, as if there could be toes to be stepped on in such things.

Then one day, when his master was away on a long journey and he had the entire temple to himself, the monk gradually tried to write, out of boredom mostly. He wrote so much that very soon there was no ink left, and he absolutely refused to go to the market without having some excuse or other for which to buy something.

And so it was the monk never wrote again, not that it changed all that much in his life per se: Over and over again, whenever people spoke to him he bowed his head and went on pointing to the sky. Truthful or not, the monk had to admit that the sky was a true master.

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