educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom

The Cage

(This story made its way around the internet several years ago…)

Once upon a time there were some monkeys.  They lived in a cage.

One day the monkeys awoke to notice that a ladder had been placed right in the middle of the cage.  Under the ladder, hanging invitingly by a thread, was a banana. It wasn’t very long before one monkey began to climb the ladder. But as soon as it did so, icy cold water sprayed down on all the monkeys. This happened each and every time one monkey set paw upon the ladder.  Very soon each and every monkey was on the lookout least one of its companions would try to climb the ladder.

How the monkeys hated that water. They hated it so much they quickly learned to attack any would be banana questor. In time the monkeys simply learned to ignore the banana. It was as if it were not there at all. It was a taste too far.

And then one day a new monkey arrived in the cage. It wasn’t very long before the new monkey saw the banana and began to climb the ladder. Immediately it was set upon by the other monkeys and thrashed severely. It quickly discovered that the banana was taboo.

As days went by more monkeys from elsewhere found themselves in the cage. Each in turn learned the lesson. Typically it was the recent victims that punished the new transgressor the most. In fact the monkeys were so busy punishing each other that they failed to notice that their numbers were remaining mysteriously the same. For every new monkey that appeared in the cage one of the original monkeys was removed.

It wasn’t too long before every original monkey had gone. It wasn’t long until there wasn’t a single monkey in the cage that had experienced the icy deluge. In fact, it wasn’t long before no monkey had any memory of why it was wrong to reach for the banana. It simply became something that was not done. It became something that almost could not be done, because it was beyond the imagination, and (spending all their time in the cage) imagination was something the monkeys had very little of.

Imagine that!

And imagine something else. The banana that remained there, day after day, so wholesome, so free from decay – the banana was plastic.

The real fruit, the real reality was this: the cage door was open…


One comment on “The Cage

  1. Rufina
    November 30, 2012

    Great story, Robert! The mind is a cage…! Reading a great book right now called “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. Fascinating stuff.

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2012 by in Musings, Teaching and tagged .

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