Once upon a time, far away in India, there was a Sadhu pilgrim. He travelled the land on foot, and people gave him food and shelter, because his presence was deemed a blessing upon the house.
One day he came to a small chicken farm. He asked whether he could rest and maybe get a small bite to eat. Although the farmer looked sad and tired, he seemed happy to obey, and told him to go to the house and wait for him.
After some time, the farmer came in and put some cold rice on the table. But before they could eat, the farmer excused himself for a moment, went out, and came back again after a few minutes.
They said their prayers, and started to eat. But soon enough the farmer excused himself again, went out, and came back after a while.
They resumed their meal, and there was just enough time for the farmer to complain about his busy life, when he had to go out again, only to come back after a while.
So this time, lest he disappear again, the Sadhu asked him: “Why are you continuously leaving your meal, and your guest?”
“I am very sorry to make your stay uncomfortable, Baba. But this is part of my burden, of my having so much to do all day. See, there is a hole in the fence of my chicken compound. So every few minutes I have to go fetch those chickens who try to run away.”
“But why don’t you fix it?”
“Ah but this is a big hole. To fix it I would need to go to the village and buy some spare fence.”
“So why don’t you go buy it? You seem to be able to afford it.”
“Yeah, but if I make the trip to the village, some chickens will run away and be lost forever! You are a wise man. Maybe you can come up with a solution, but I couldn’t!”
The Sadhu thought for a moment.
“This may be hard for you,” he said, “but I think you’ll have to decide to lose some chickens.”
Thanks to Arnoud for the metaphor.
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