The wind was blowing hard this morning as I waited on the platform for my train to boredom when I was reminded of an old poem I read when I was a child. It was called The North Wind and the Sun and is a classic Aesop’s Fable. I’m not sure in what grade it was when I read it but it always stuck with me.
The tale involves a contest between the North Wind and the Sun to figure out who was the bigger bad ass. The wind challenged the sun to an arm wrestling match of sorts. There was a passing traveler on the road below wearing a cloak. The Wind said the Sun was a total wuss and couldn’t have any effect on the traveler, while he, the big bad wind could blow that cloak right off that traveler. The Sun was like, “Whatever; knock your socks off”. So the Wind blew and blew and shuddered and all the while the traveler just pulled the cloak around his body tighter and tighter.
The Wind, now nearly exhausted, finally gave up but was still being a total jerk to the Sun. “I’d like to see you do better, chump”. We’ll the sun doesn’t take that kind of crap so he brightened up. The streaming sunlight made the traveler uncomfortable in the heat and shortly and steadily the heat rose enough that the traveler took his cloak off to cool down. The North Wind, now completely humiliated, grew up to be Lindsey Lohan.
I thought of it as the wind blew coldly around me while waiting for the train. I remembered thinking that the Wind was a braggart and the Sun was just a super cool guy, doing his thing. I remember thinking that I wanted to be like the Sun. So I think that Aesop’s Fable set me on a course of passive aggressive behavior I still struggle with to this day. It’s amazing what I think about while waiting for the train.
Somehow related to this whole pattern of thinking was the fact that today is my seven year anniversary with this particular employer. Seven long years slogging it out in the insurance trenches has taken its toll on me. I’ve officially been working here longer than America’s involvement in two world wars. I’ve been in the industry since the mid-90’s and I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I’d followed a career more like Aesop’s. (Although that guy was a genius and I happen to turn a colorful phrase every once in a great while without much thought toward morality)
I think it was the whole passive aggressive nature of the fable and my life in insurance that the connection was made. I probably should have been more like the North Wind in the pursuit of my goals and less like the Sun, merely waiting for things to work out in my favor.
It isn’t too late they all say. Or at least, that’s what they’ll tell me after they read this. And I’ll agree whole-heartedly, nodding and secretly sneering, thinking, “Stick it where the Sun don’t shine”. Also, Happy Birthday Charles Dickens. Your immense body of work is the curse of school children, I hope you’re happy.