The Sound of an Insect

“One night, a man couldn’t sleep because of the sound of an insect. He got so annoyed that he asked a wiseman how to not let the noise bother him. The wiseman said to bring in chickens, so the man did so and complained about the extra noise they were making. Then the wiseman said to bring in pigs, so the man did so and complained about the noise even more. Next the wiseman said to bring in a coyote and the man did so and complained about the howling on top of everything else. Lastly, the wiseman said to bring in an elephant, so the man did so and was surrounded by so much noise that it made him even more furious. Finally, the wiseman said to be rid of the elephant, then the coyote, then the pigs, then the chickens and then asked the man, now is it quiet enough for you to go to sleep and the man nodded and went to sleep.”

My informant was unsure of where exactly she had heard this story, she said probably from a friend. But for some reason, she found that it stuck with her, because she found the content to be profound. For my informant, this story meant to make sure to appreciate the little things in life. Often in life, problems can become greater than expected, and she often thinks she can make them better by doing things to help, but these things do not necessarily make them problem get better, but make it worse instead. It also tells her that if she first learns to deal with little problems, then she can later deal with even bigger problems without feeling overwhelmed. The story illustrates to not complain about the present, since the future is unpredictable and things can turn much worse later, so to enjoy the present.

This story reminded me of a different folklore that I collected, the one about fighting heat with heat. In that tradition, in order to fight the heat of summer, people placed themselves in even hotter conditions, so that the original condition would not seem so bad. This seems similar to the story above, in that when things start to get worse, past smaller trials seem trivial. For me, this story seems to remind to count your blessings. For example, although finals and papers may seem like a huge trial to me at the moment, if I had experienced true poverty or homelessness, or the death of my parents, my current state would not seem so miserable. I must know that I am blessed in this way.