A Little Happier: Aesop’s Fable about the Fox and the Stork

I love fables, paradoxes, koans, parables, and all kinds of teaching stories.

So, naturally, I love Aesop’s Fables. Aesop  was a storyteller in ancient Greece credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables. Although his existence remains unclear and no actual writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him have been gathered over the centuries.

One of my favorites of these fables is the story of the Fox and the Stork. Here’s my version.

The Fox thought he was the cleverest of all creatures, and he loved to play tricks on his neighbors.

One day he invited the Stork to dinner, and the Stork accepted eagerly. He arrived on time, and with a hearty appetite.

But when he sat down to eat, he discovered that the Fox had served him nothing but soup presented in a low bowl. With his long neck and bill, the Stork couldn’t get more than a few drops. Still, he thanked the Fox for a pleasant evening.

A few days later, the Stork invited the Fox for dinner in turn. The Fox sat down to discover that he was being served soup, just as he’d served it himself, but this time, the soup was served in a tall jar with a narrow opening. The Fox couldn’t get even one taste.

The Fox said indignantly to the Stork, “How rude of you to invite me to dinner, then serve me in a way that’s so unsuitable!”

The Stork just smiled.

Aesop’s fables generally conclude with a moral, and the moral that often follows this story is “Be ready for the things you do to come back to you” or “Don’t play tricks on your neighbors unless you can stand the same treatment yourself.”

But to me, it has a different moral. I think it’s a great example of my aphorism, “Just because something works well for you doesn’t meant that it will work well for someone else.

Just as a fox drinks soup from a low bowl, and a stork drinks soup from a tall jar, people thrive in very different circumstances. Just because you like to get up early and go for a run before starting work, that doesn’t mean that early-morning exercise would work for everyone.

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