I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.
Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)
The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969
The Hare and the Tortoise
Once upon a time there was a hare and a tortoise. The hare liked to run and jump and roll in the flowers. The tortoise stuck to the ground looking always to the front, never to the left, never to the right.
One day the tortoise began to argue with the hare.
"You have no direction. You are aimless. You are wasting your life," the tortoise said. The hare chewed on a dandelion to see what it was like.
"Whereas I on the other claw," the tortoise continued, "have purpose. I have drive. I have ambition." The hare began doing backward somersaults.
"And I can prove it!" the tortoise shouted, getting angry. "We will race through the wood to the river. The first one onto the bridge is the winner!"
And so that's how the race began. All the other animals gathered to watch and the crow, who was a bird and could fly, agreed to be the invigilator. When all was ready the squirrel opened a nut as a starting signal.
"Crack!" The race was on! The hare was into the wood in a couple of bounds. The tortoise moved slowly forward looking always to the front, never to the left, never to the right.
The hare ran halfway through the wood. Then the hare stopped to watch a cobweb dancing in a patch of sunlight. The sound of music drifted by on the breeze. The hare hopped off to investigate. The hare loved music. Music always reminded the hare of food. The hare began looking for some baby grass shoots to nibble. The tortoise continued, always looking to the front, never to the left, never to the right.
The hare found an old, hollow log covered in toadstools. It made a great hide away and for a while the hare hid in it imagining the fox was outside. After that it felt good to jump and stretch, stretch and jump, and jump some more.
The tortoise plodded on looking straight ahead. To the left there was a wild raspberry bush so heavy with fruit that its top was brushing the ground. To the right a fledgling fell from its nest to lie helpless caught in some undergrowth. The tortoise noticed neither.
After the jumping and stretching the hare felt hot and thirsty. So the hare ran to the river and had a drink. Then finding a shady spot the hare settled down for a nap.
The tortoise left the wood and neared the bridge, looking never to the left and never to the right. The tortoise reached the bridge, looking never to the left and never to the right. The hare woke up. The tortoise crawled onto the bridge, triumphant. The crow reported to the animals at the starting line that the tortoise had won. Some of them cheered and then they all went about their business.
When it got dark and there was no one to see the hare climbed up carefully from under the bridge and went home. The moon was very beautiful.
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