This is something which I had read in the fourth book of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Series. I was pondering over something when it just came back to me. And I love the title of the book :)
“He said airily, "I want you to tell me a story.''
She looked out over the kale and pondered.
"All right,'' she said, "it's only a short one. And not funny like yours, but ... Anyway.''
She looked down. Arthur could feel that it was one of those sorts of moments. The air seemed to stand still around them, waiting. Arthur wished that the air would go away and mind its own business.
"When I was a kid,'' she said. "These sort of stories always start like this, don't they, 'When I was a kid ...'Anyway. This is the bit where the girl suddenly says, 'When I was a kid' and starts to unburden herself. We have got to that bit. When I was a kid I had this picture hanging over the foot of my bed ... What do you think of it so far?"
"I like it. I think it's moving well. You're getting the bedroom interest in nice and early. We could probably do with some development with the picture."
"It was one of those pictures that children are supposed to like,'' she said, "but don't. Full of endearing little animals doing endearing things, you know?"
"I know. I was plagued with them too. Rabbits in waistcoats."
"Exactly. These rabbits were in fact on a raft, as were assorted rats and owls. There may even have been a reindeer."
"On the raft."
"On the raft. And a boy was sitting on the raft."
"Among the rabbits in waistcoats and the owls and the reindeer."
"Precisely there. A boy of the cheery gypsy ragamuffin variety."
"The picture worried me, I must say. There was an otter swimming in front of the raft, and I used to lie awake at night worrying about this otter having to pull the raft, with all these wretched animals on it who shouldn't even be on a raft, and the otter had such a thin tail to pull it with I thought it must hurt pulling it all the time. Worried me. Not badly, but just vaguely, all the time.
"Then one day --- and remember I'd been looking at this picture every night for years --- I suddenly noticed that the raft had a sail. Never seen it before. The otter was fine, he was just swimming along.''
"Good story?'' she said.
"Ends weakly,'' said Arthur, "leaves the audience crying 'Yes, but what of it?' Fine up till there, but needs a final sting before the credits."
Fenchurch laughed and hugged her legs.
"It was just such a sudden revelation, years of almost unnoticed worry just dropping away, like taking off heavy weights, like black and white becoming colour, like a dry stick suddenly being watered. The sudden shift of perspective that says 'Put away your worries, the world is a good and perfect place. It is in fact very easy.'”
Adams is one of the wittiest writers I’ve have ever come across. So far. His entire style of writing is fresh, quirky, crazy, and sometimes so profound you have to stop and think. You can expect absolutely anything to happen in the series, which makes them such a different read. His simple analogy teaches us one of the simple things in life that we so very often keep forgetting.
It’s about focusing on the sail of the raft, and not on the otter’s tail :)
Get it? :)