Things are not always as they seem.
Once upon a time there was a magician showing off his skills in town. He brought in a rooster, which then carried a large beam as if it were nothing. A young girl who had just found a four-leaf clover and as a result was very wise, saw that it was not a beam at all, but a piece of straw. When the girl pointed this out everyone else saw what she saw and the magician was very angry.
He waited for a time. It soon came time for the girl’s wedding. She came to as stream. There was no bridge so she hiked up her skirts in order to cross the water. The magician happened to be there and said, “You silly girl; you think that’s water!” It turns out it was not water, but a field of blue flax. Everyone at the wedding ridiculed her and chased her out-of-town.
I didn’t know that four-leaf clovers made you wise. I just thought they were supposed to make you lucky.
There are a couple of things I would like to address in this story.
So this girl points out the magician’s fraud, which makes him look bad, but then he tricks her into thinking she sees something else. He points out that what she is seeing is not really what is there and then everyone makes fun of her and runs her off. Does this not seem a little one-sided? Nobody ran the magician out-of-town when he was embarrassed. The people were probably just like, “Oh that old dork, he’s always up to something,” and then they promptly forgot about his embarrassment. With the girl they made fun of her so much that she ran out-of-town. That is not nice. The situations were very similar, but yet, the woman’s situation ended up much worse. Thanks, all you jerks. Way to be sexist.
Underlying all of this is one of those screwed up media and societal messages we subconsciously pass onto our children. It’s ok to make fun of a woman so severely that she runs out-of-town, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere when it’s a man. If a man sees something that isn’t really what it is, then it’s totally ok, he’s only human, but if a woman mistakes one thing for another thing, it’s ok to make fun of her non-stop; she’s only a woman.
Didn’t she have a husband? I assume this was not a same-sex wedding. So this woman has a husband somewhere, but he doesn’t step in at all to come to her defense. He must be just as much of a jerk as everyone else is. Was he afraid to stand up for his wife because that would be un-macho of him? I hope she found another man in the town she ran off to.
All of this isn’t necessarily important to the story at large, but it is important to point out items in a story that pass on unspoken gender roles or traditions that may seem unfair or backwards. If you can’t identify something, how are you supposed to protect yourself against it?
Things are not always as they seem. The village was entranced by this magic trick. They were convinced that this trick was real. This rooster really was carrying a large beam. It was freaking amazing! A girl comes along with her four-leaf clover, or we could just say women’s intuition and observes that the rooster is carrying a piece of straw. The trick isn’t so magical then. The act isn’t so mesmerizing. Once one person points out the flaw everyone else knows what to look for. Then later on, the girl thinks she’s wading across a stream, but it’s really just flowers. She was convinced that it was water until someone else pointed out to her that it was not water.
I have two thoughts on this situation. First off, sometimes we need someone from the outside to give us criticism. They can see problems from the outside that we can’t see from the inside. This is why people go to marriage counseling and psychiatrists. What makes sense in our brains, isn’t necessarily what should make sense. Sometimes we need a person to be like, “Look, honey, you’re freaking crazy, you can’t threaten to chop off your husband’s head every night. Normal couples don’t do that.” Sometimes that’s all it takes. We only need that one little piece of advice to realize that things have gotten out of hand.
My second thought on all of this is that sometimes we’re mesmerized. We get so caught up in an atmosphere that we ignore the truth and the truth is right in front of us. The people in this town thought they saw a beam when it was only a piece of straw. They were caught up in this crowd moment. They all saw it. They all wanted to see it. I’m sure, even without a four-leaf clover, someone would have looked on and realized that everyone was being stupid. If everyone else thinks it’s right, we want to think it’s right too. We want to fit in. So if everyone sees a beam when there is only a straw, we want to see a beam too. We might even lie and say we see a beam when we only see a piece of straw. It’s only when someone else has enough balls to speak up and say it’s a piece of straw that we’ll admit that it was just a piece of straw and not a beam, but maybe we won’t. Maybe we liked the excitement and togetherness of the situation so much that we’ll deny that the beam is a piece of straw even when there is plenty of evidence to say otherwise. Then we’ll blame the person who spoke up with trying to incite riots and other bull crap like that. We don’t like it when people point out the truths right in front of our noses.
Hmm…magicians. David Copperfield. Penn and Teller. Houdini. I like Penn and Teller.