Each evening about an hour before sunset the Prince would leave his castle to walk up to the promontory point which overlooked the valley in which his people lived. He was their leader and he wanted nothing but peace, prosperity and happiness for those people.
The people were all commoners well below his station but the prince genuinely cared for them. As their leader, he felt an obligation to direct their lives in a kind and loving way.
Followed by his entourage of loyal officials, the prince walked slowly up the steep trail to the promontory point. Once there, the entourage formed a semi-circle to his back as the prince faced outward toward the valley. A few in the entourage were tasked with transcribing the words he shouted out over the valley. These words were then disseminated the next day to those commoners down below who obviously did not, or could not, hear the prince’s words for themselves.
The prince believed that shouting his pronouncements out into the wind from a point above the people gave his pronouncements more power; that the winds would carry his dictates far and wide. He believed that this way his directives would not only reach all the people but also the heavens above. He was fulfilling his rulership by orchestrating the reality of his domain.
He was not just ruling; he was ordaining.
One day several of the prince’s officials met him in his royal chambers in the castle. The prince had commissioned them to poll the people of the valley to find out how much they were listening to and following his daily proclamations.
“Your highness, we have troubling news,” said one of the officials.
Another official chimed in, “Our thorough survey shows that very, very few people pay any attention to your proclamations. Your proclamations and advice are printed out and handed to all the people of the valley but when questioned, those people claim they never read the print outs and use them solely for kindling to start fires in their hearths.”
“What?!” exclaimed the prince. “If these pitiful commoners don’t take advice from their leader then who do they take counsel from?”
The second official cleared his throat then spoke up, “Well… uh… sir… it seems that most of the people don’t take counsel from anyone. They simply go on about their daily lives. But we learned that a small percentage of people seek counsel from a certain man…”
“A certain man? Who is this man?”
“Well… uh… he is just a commoner. He makes his living by day cleaning out poop from pig sties. At night people line up at his hovel to ask him advice on a wide range of topics. He has been quite popular among a small percentage of the people and his popularity seems to be growing. Apparently, he asks for no monetary compensation and gives his advice freely.”
The prince was indignant. He commenced to draw up a plan to deal with this pig sty cleaner. That evening he dressed as a commoner and went down into the valley. His officials followed but only from a safe distance so as not to inadvertently reveal who he was.
In disguise, the prince stood in line at the hovel of the pig sty cleaner in order to get counsel. When he finally gained entrance to the hovel he sat in a chair across a table from the pig sty cleaner.
The pig sty cleaner looked at him, “How may I help you, kind sir?”
The prince bowed his head in submission, “My life has not turned out the way I had wished. Can you give me some advice?”
The pig sty cleaner closed his eyes as he put his hands around a large crystal in the middle of the table. He remained motionless for a long moment then opened his eyes, “Sir Prince, it seems that what your life is lacking is humility. You feel no humility with the people you govern and you feel no humility with the heavens above. To realize the life that awaits you, you must become humble. To not be humble in the face of humanity and also heaven is to be a fool.”
The prince abruptly stood up, “Charlatan! I am the ruler! It is the commoners such as you who should by humble to me!”
Pulling a whistle out from his pocket, the prince blew it and quickly his associates came barging into the hovel.
“Dispense with this man!” the prince ordered.
His associates killed the pig sty cleaner then followed the prince back to the castle. The next day the prince created a new law that made it illegal for anyone to ask advice from anyone but him. He opened up an office in the center of the valley and each afternoon he would allow commoners to come in and ask him for counsel. But after several days no one came in.
Then one day as he went up to the promontory point as usual, he stood upon the rock overlooking the valley but he was unable to yell anything into the wind. He was speechless. Not a single word came to him.
Finally, he looked up into the heavens and said, “I’m sorry.”
Just then a very strong wind came up and blew the prince off of his rock promontory. He went tumbling down the hillside head over heels, bumping against rocks and logs and bushes and trees. He finally came to a rest at the bottom just outside the valley’s town.
Slowly and painfully, the prince got to his feet. He knew that his associates would be quickly coming down the hillside looking for him. He did not want to become known as the prince who died falling off a rock. He wanted to be known as the prince who disappeared into the night.
So, despite the pain, the prince began walking away. He walked and walked and walked and walked and after several days he came to a small town in a different kingdom. No one there knew who he was.
He was desperately hungry and in pain. He stopped someone on the street and asked if there were any jobs in this town. The peasant replied, “The only job I know of is at the pig farm south of town. They need someone to clean out the pig sties.”
A tear rolled down the cheek of the prince. He then proceeded to the pig farm and got a job cleaning the poop out of the pig sties. He held that job for the rest of his life and during all that time no one ever asked him for advice. Curiously, the prince was okay with that.
This distant town also had a hill that overlooked the town. Every day after cleaning out pig sties the prince would walk up to the top of that hill. At the top he would look down at the town in which he now lived. Then he would look up at the heavens and say…
Copyright by White Feather. All Rights Reserved. This is a work of fiction.