Of God, Man, and Animals
Be careful what you ask for
I heard this beautiful fable from my enlightened and extremely well-read car mechanic. It must be a part of Indian (from India) mythology as a monkey is prominent in this tale:
When God made the man, before breathing life into him, God wanted to give the man companions and helpers.
So God created a dog and said, "I made you to be a lifelong companion to the man, his true friend until you die.
"What would that involve, God?" the dog asked.
"Not much: simply protect the man, sit on his porch all day long, play with his kids gently, warn him of threats, and bark at every stranger. I'll give you 20 years of life for that."
"Twenty years is a long time for barking and sitting around doing nothing, God," the dog said. "Why don't you give me just 10 and take the other 10 back?"
"It's your life," God said, "You'll live for 10 years."
Then God created a monkey and said, "I want you to be a true companion to the man, entertain him and make him laugh by playing all sorts of tricks on him and his children."
"What's in it for me, God?" the monkey asked.
"You will be always admired, the man’s children will make faces with you and feed you bananas, and they will give you the freedom to run around. You will never be in need of food, always taken care of. I'll give you 20 years of life for this."
The monkey scratched his head and said, "Twenty years is too much for tricks and just fooling around, God. Why don't you give me just 10 and take 10 back?"
"It's your life," God replied, "Ten years you will have."
Then God created a cow and said, "I want you to be a true friend and provider for the man. You will give him milk, which he will use to make cheese, cream, and butter to feed his children."
"What's in it for me, God?" the cow asked.
"You will have a good, happy life, and the man will take good care of you. You will also be admired and respected, almost like a saint. I will give you 40 years of this wonderful care-free life."
"Forty years is too much for the life of milking and boredom," the cow responded. "Why don't you take 20 back, God?"
"It's your life," God replied, "I grant you 20 years."
Finally, God breathed life into the man and said, "I've made you the crown of my creation and given you these creatures to be your friends and providers. You will have to, however, work the land for at least half of your life, to get everything you need. I will give you 40 years to live."
"Forty years, and half of them to work, God?!" the man exclaimed. "That's too short, don't You think?"
God was taken aback by the man's greed. But the man was still His favorite creation, so he asked, "What do you suggest?" and smiled mischievously.
"Well, God, I overheard that the dog, the monkey, and the cow gave you half of their years back. Why don't You give those years to me?"
"It's your life," God smiled again and mumbled to the side so that the man couldn't hear, "But be careful what you wish for."
So, from that time on, for the first 20 years of his life the man grows and learns. For the second 20 years of his own life plus 20 years of the cow's life, the man works to provide for himself and his children. For the next 10 years, he entertains his grandkids. And for the last 10 years, he sits on his porch and barks at strangers.