Through the years, the story of Belling the Cat like many of Aesop’s fables has been re-written and adapted to different cultures and social norms of the moment. It is a simple story of a community of mice coming together to solve a common problem, a CAT!
The mice held a meeting and complained that it was impossible for them to go about their day peacefully with the threat of the big cat springing on them unexpectedly. As I am not an expert on mice culture and certainly not one to sit and observe mice, I suppose a family of mice would pursue happiness by being involved in activities such as building nests and gathering food.
In any event, the mice mulled over the fact that each time as they went about their business, the cat, being a hunter by nature, would do what cats do. He would bring his long sleek body close to the ground and with padded feet, quietly sneak up on them; He would pounce on one unlucky victim and capture it within his sharp claws. The other mice would scatter and run as fast as their little feet could carry them, knowing that they would never see their friend again.
The deliberations went on for hours. There was much arguing about what to do with this cat that was disrupting their lives and threatening their very existence. Ideas came and went, and finally, a very young mouse said: “it’s very simple really, hang a bell around its neck so that we can hear him coming and run for shelter before he grabs someone.”
“What a great idea! An amazing plan.” An elderly mouse who had not spoken before said, “I’m glad we all agree. Now my friends, who will have the courage to step forward to do it?” There was silence, and soon there was the shuffling of hundreds of little feet. It seemed that when looking for volunteers, they all took one step backward and the deliberation continued.
“Brave words are easier than brave deeds.” Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkey
Have you ever been to a planning meeting at work, school or church and found yourself in a similar situation? Most times the issue is not anything dangerous, just time-consuming or merely new. There have been group meetings where we’ve pondered options that seem good in theory, but no one was willing to put into action.
It always amazes me that Aesop’s stories are still relevant today. We have come a long way and have developed many great projects and ideas, but over the centuries our nature remains the same.
If Aesop were telling this story today, he would probably say: “ All talk and no action leaves us in the same predicament.” Don’t you agree? `
The previous assignment was quite a challenge for me. It was to recreate a single day with no backstory, flashbacks, or foreshadowing. Imagining what may be ahead is part of my nature. To look beyond what I see in front of me is part of my writing style. Everyone has a backstory; sure some may call it baggage, but regardless it does affect our actions and who we are in present day. I was feeling boxed in by staying within the confinement of the day. Every time my mind wandered to the past or the future, I had to reign myself in.
Today’s #everydayinspiration option: Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young, or younger in my case.I chose this option because I knew exactly which book I can effortlessly talk about. It is “The Four Agreements” by Dr. Miguel Ruiz. I have referenced this book in part in my previous posts, and today I decided to take the opportunity to tell you a little more.
I was given this book many years ago by a new neighbor. Her name was Nora; we had spoken a few times, and one day as I was checking my mail, she stopped me and said: “I think you’ll like this.” She handed me the book and walked back to her apartment. I took it upstairs, read the cover, rolled my eyes and put it down. It read, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, The Four Agreements, A Toltec Wisdom Book.
After a couple of days, curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up the book and started reading. After all, how many times had I heard that you couldn’t judge a book by its cover? I read a few chapters that night, but quite frankly, I was not in the mood for the mumbo-jumbo about dreams and energy of the light and the stars, the earth and humans. I put it away. When Nora asked, I told her I had started to read it but got too busy with work and classes and family.
Fast forward to a year or so later, and I was between flights at an airport looking for something to read because I had forgotten my book. On display out front of the store I saw, From The New York Times Bestselling Author, Don Miguel Ruiz – Wisdom from The Mastery Of Love. Bestseller? Well, whadda ya’ know? I picked up a copy and started reading. The four-hour flight was enough to get me hooked. This seemed an easier read, or maybe I was ready to understand it. When I finished, I dug out the other book and read it too. It all made sense now. I’ve read each book a few times, and when the author and son teamed up to explain the Fifth Agreement, I read that too.
The “Wisdom” is not magic or beliefs of rituals with supernatural powers. It’s actually common sense insights that we have heard before from our parents, teachers, and preachers or in this case, from Toltec healers. The simple way the message is delivered is part of the charm. This wisdom is broken down into an uncomplicated formula- The Four Agreements. I will share my impression of what I’ve read.
Be Impeccable with Your Word: I take great care to make sure that when I speak, I speak with integrity. I think I show immense strength when I am honest in sharing my thoughts, and I try to be clear for others to understand me. If I disagree, I am mindful not to attack the person but to address the behavior. I think when one is conscious of how words are used, and the effect they can have on another person, one demonstrates respect for the power of the word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally: This agreement is one I find is particularly liberating for me. You may have noticed that on my blog I often bring up the idea that each person is living his or her own story. Each one is dealing with issues that may be foreign to the next person. The basic premise is that nothing the other person does is because of you. They are wrapped up in their reality; each one is the “star” if you will, of their movie. Sometimes we are hurt by someone because of their belief system. Once we learn that their opinion does not define us, we are free.
Don’t Make Assumptions: You probably have heard the saying that starts – When you ass-u-me you make… . The truth is when we assume; our imagination goes beyond the reality which can lead us to distress. Clear communication is such an essential part of our lives to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. When we make assumptions, our preconceived ideas make it almost impossible to move toward a solution. Learn to ask the right questions that will get you the answer you seek.
Always Do Your Best: Our best changes from day to day or even from each moment. Our best is different when we are in good health or when we are ill. The important thing is to put in all your effort. Don’t judge or abuse yourself in any way just because your approach is different from the mainstream. When you do your best – whatever that means to you, be proud that you did it to the greatest of your ability –no regrets.
Be Skeptical but learn to listen: This is another great truth that you’ve heard before. Just because a leader sad so, doesn’t mean you have to jump off the bridge. I have also written about listening to different opinions but in the end, research to confirm the truth. Just because you are trying to be “impeccable with your word,” doesn’t mean everyone else is. I remember a colleague used to say. “There are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”
Revisiting these agreements at different times has helped me take another look at situations in my life. I have found that they blend well with my belief system and at times I have felt “enlightened” when I am moved to practice them. There was a time when I was giving this pair of books to family, friends, and colleagues. I know some people were able to take it to heart and expressed gratitude. Some even said it had changed their life by taking another look at some simple truths.
Day Fifteen: Take a Cue from Your Reader #everydayinspiration
This post is not a paid endorsement; just a response to an assignment as stated above. I hope it was helpful. Thanks for stopping by.