There was once a man of age who loved to play chess. He played every day and would play with anyone who challenged him. Many did not like playing with him, however, because of his unusual style.
His style was to defend without attacking for many rounds. This is called the long game, but it only works if your opponent is also playing the long game. If your opponent is on the offensive, you need to strategize an attack lest you lose too many pieces to defend your territory.
The problem was that everyone knew he wouldn’t take the offensive. He would always play the long game, and always lose.
An opponent asked him once, “Why do you always play the long game when you know that you will always lose? You’ve played enough times to know that you need to take the offensive to win.”
He replied, “The reason I’ve been playing all these years is not to win. It is to find someone else who likes to play the long game.”
Grain of Sand floated past on the current and Pebble saw her washed away into the valley.
“Gone is Grain of Sand,” cried Pebble. “Surely if I were like Stone, I would never wash away. Why can’t I be like Stone?”
Stone heard this and admitted, “Yes, life is good, but I can still be washed away. I would like to be more like Rock. Then surely I would stay in one place and never be washed away.”
Rock heard this and replied, “It is better to be a rock, but I would like to be like Boulder so I would indeed stay in one place.”
Boulder heard this, laughed a little and responded,”Oh yes, I am less likely to be washed away, but more fortunate would I be if I were Mountain; he wants for nothing. He will always stand tall and still. His years will be longer than all of ours, and he will never be washed away.”
Everyone agreed that it would be the best to be Mountain. Cheers arose from the crowd in the stream, “Be like Mountain, be like Mountain!”
Mountain heard all this chatter, for he was standing right there the whole time. He gave a mighty laugh, but then began to sob. Pebble, Stone, Rock and Boulder watched, amazed by the sight of the mighty mountain weeping, until they all asked together: “What’s wrong?”
Mountain replied, “You all want to become bigger, but listen to what I say! My lament is that I will never travel through the valley. I will never see how the sunlight illuminates each part of the stream. I will never flow over the dams, feel the chill and heat of the lands beyond, and perceive the myriad smells, tastes, and sights of the world. I will never flow through the roots of trees and wash up on the shores of new and exotic lands.
Being so tall, I can see all of it. I can see everything, but I will never really experience any of these things. I will always stand outside of them, gazing over them. What you consider a blessing, I consider a curse. The water will flow past me, slowly tearing away my flesh until there is nothing left of me; in hundreds of billions of years, I will have done nothing but stand here, tortured and exiled. You want to be me, but the truth is, I want to be Grain of Sand. She is truly blessed and I hope you will one day realize it.
The crowd in the stream thought for a moment about what they had heard. They realized that Mountain had gone mad, and if any one of them could change places with Mountain, they would be thankful for their great fortune.