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The Borovkoff Blog

Neo-Pagan Modern Thoughts On Society

“In the morning this thing walks on four legs. In the afternoon this thing walks on two legs. And in the evening this thing walks on three legs.”


In ancient greece, legend has it that the sphynx would award a great treasure to anyone who could solve his riddle. The riddle went like this:

Image from an ancient greek urn of a sphynx“In the morning this thing walks on four legs. In the afternoon this thing walks on two legs. And in the evening this thing walks on three legs.”

If we remember our ancient greek mythology we know the answer, “Man”. For indeed when a child man crawl on his hands and legs (4 legs). In the prime of his life man walks erect on two legs. And in the evening of our life man walks on two legs plus needs a cane (3 legs).

And so the progression of a human’s life goes. We start feeble and weak, needing all of our limbs to survive. Then we evolve into a full fledged person, dependent on nobody but ourselves. And finally we become weak once more and may depend on tools to hold us up and allow us the freedom to move around once again. Its a natural progression and most humans go through it.

This natural progression also symbolizes more than just physical dependency. It also symbolizes our evolution as a full grown adult.

Sadly, this week I was again given that rare glimpse that reminds me, “Not everyone grows up and evolves into their own person.” Many people remain dependent on others to make themselves whole. Many stay as that tottering child on four legs. Perhaps its fear of growing up to adulthood and then facing that final evening in their life? Or perhaps, and probably related, its the feeling within these odd individuals that if they remain dependent on their four legs then they will stay forever young and oblivious to their own obligations or commitments. Without any obligations or commitments they can act childlike and then claim that it is “they” who are truly living and not everyone else. Their argument will forever be, “Enjoy life and live carefree. Don’t hate!”

Its sad to look back on people that I have known and see them crawling across the ground, sometimes balancing a Martini on their back while they do it. I wonder if they will ever grow up and find themselves. Or will they forever be lost in their childhood, resolutely determined to try to “look” young.

It must be a day of mythology and fable, this rainy day, for I also think about another famous fable in relation to this type of people. The tale of The Grasshopper And The Ants. For those of us who forgot it, the story goes like this: During the Spring and Summer, the ants worked diligently, putting food away for the winter, making sure they were protecting themselves and their home for a later time. While the ants worked storing food and strengthening their home, the grasshopper sat around, enjoying himself and playing music for his own ears, laughing and frolicking in the tall grasses of Spring, Summer and Fall. The grasshopper wanted to play through all of life with no responsibility or vision of his future. Then winter came. Snow came. No food was around. The ants were merrily living in the home with enough food to last them until Spring and time to enjoy their bounty. While the grasshopper froze to death outside in the snow, with no games to play, nobody to hear his music and no energy anymore to create his music.

Sadly, I know of a few people who crawl on their four legs, and play at everything they do while it is still Summer for them. One day, the cold winds of Winter will come and bring snow and there will be nobody left for them to play with, because everyone else will have gone into their own homes leaving the grasshopper alone. The one thing that the grasshopper personality fears most, loneliness.

Life is a funny thing. And Buddhism teaches us that it is the middle road that will get us the most rewards. Work when it is time to work and prepare for your future. And play when it is time to play and enjoy the bounty that is life. But don’t get stuck out in the snow with nothing to show for yourself except an empty Martini glass and the fading sound of past musical notes.

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