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“NOW HOW DOES IT REALLY WORK?” the dragonfly asked the butterfly on a balmy summer evening when they were sitting on a reed stalk, pensively looking out over the water.
“What?” asked the butterfly, “and why would it not have been real until now?”
“Oh, sorry”, said the dragonfly and gasped for a bit more air, “I mean, do you really not mind that the cockatoo is away so often?”
“But why”, asked the butterfly, “is everybody thinking that I would mind?”
“Well”, said the dragonfly, “you know. They say that when you’re a couple, you do everything together. Or at least go to sleep each night together in your own house”.
“That’s indeed what a lot of couples do”, said the butterfly, “but that does not mean that that would be the only way”.
“Oh”, said the dragonfly, who needed to be silent for a moment, because being uptight took her breath away, stressed as she was.
“But”, said the dragonfly when she got some air again and new thoughts, “if you don’t do it like everyone does, then how do you know that it’s okay and that you don’t get … fooled”.
“That’s called trust”, said the butterfly.
“Trust”, repeated the dragonfly pensively, but it didn’t speak to her. She waited for a while if ‘trust’ would help her out by arising some associations and thoughts in her. The butterfly saw the dragonfly breathing heavily, gasping for air and wobbling a bit edgy.
“You know”, said the butterfly, “if you weren’t so afraid of your own, beautiful, honest questions, you would already be a lot less uptight”.
“Yes, yes”, said the dragonfly, “not to be afraid, I know. But how does one do that, not being afraid when in fact you are a little afraid. That will make you afraid all over, if you fail”.
For a moment, the dragonfly was silent and the butterfly let it be, to give her the opportunity to catch her breath again.
“But if I take a little pause, then I can manage again”, continued the dragonfly with a little sigh.
“Yes”, said the butterfly, “I see that you can get your act together again. You’re a hard worker! But with a little more trust, you wouldn’t have to go through so many waves of fear. You constantly live in the breakers; with trust, the water is calmer and the waves less high”.
The dragonfly stared at the ripples in the water.
“As calm as the water of this pond?” asked the dragonfly and wondered if she really wanted that. Breakers were also kind of nice.
“If it’s not intense”, she was thinking aloud, “will it still be fun?”
“At least more quiet”, said the butterfly, “I take the cockatoo for whom he is: a traveler who’s sometimes gone, but keeps coming back to me with interesting stories, with new thoughts”.
“Maybe”, said the giraffe, who came walking by and had interestingly been listening in for a while, “it’s about the alternation. That sometimes you intensely go high and deep and at other moments you just quietly ripple”.
“Yes, yes”, said the dragonfly, “nicely put. But when do you do what?”
“I think”, said the giraffe, “that’s where trust comes in. Trust in your own wisdom. That you learn to feel when no mountain’s too steep or ocean too deep and when you better quietly ripple along”.
The dragonfly was always impressed by the giraffe and surely wanted to thoroughly think this through. It stirred a wild sea of thoughts and feelings in her. Just when she only wanted to quietly ripple along on this balmy summer evening in the animal forest.
“Practice”, said the butterfly, who saw the dragonfly gasp for breath again, “practice makes skills”.
Thank you Marita Sporrong for your help with this translation and for the image you made to this fable.
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I’m caught by the animal stories by the Dutch author Toon Tellegen and when I gave one of his books away, I let that present be accompanied by some own writings in this style. That’s how my own fables came to be, with animals and characters of my own, but inspired by the books of Toon who set the tone. Perhaps a new parallel universe of his animal forest will develop here 🙂
A part of those fables has been published in ‘Mensaberichten’, in those days the club magazine of the society Mensa Nederland.