Fruit

“People are selfish, foolish and often evil,” said the student to the Master.  “I prefer to live alone instead of dealing with them.”

There was silence while the student waited for the Maser to reply.  The student could hear through the open window the sound of the nearby stream.  A bird called in the distance.  A fly buzzed nearby.  The seam of the student’s shirt tickled his neck.  The low, rough-hewn wooden table before the Master seemed to settle and wait.  When enough time had passed the Master gestured to a bowl of fruit on the table.

“Do you like this fruit?” the Master asked.

The student eyed the bowl and its contents.  The fruit was ripe, full of color.  One stem held a fragment of green leaf.  The fly landed and explored the skin in short, staccato bursts.

“Yes.  It is my favorite.”

The Master scowled.  “How can you like this?  It has a pit at the center that is inedible.  The pit gives a bitter flavor to the flesh it touches.  It will break your tooth if you bite it.  When you toss it aside it sprouts and grows even more pits.  It is truly vile.”

“Forgive me, Master,” said the student with passion.  “It is the flesh that matters, not the pit.  It is true we must eat around it with care, but the reward is more than worth the effort.  You cannot have the fruit without the pit.  It would collapse upon itself.”

The Master was silent while the student pondered his words.  The stream murmured disapprovingly to itself outside.  The bird called loudly, a mocking laugh that drifted about.  The fly buzzed incessantly.  The rough seam of the student’s shirt bore down into his neck.  The table crouched, waiting.  When enough time had passed the student bowed before the Master and spoke quietly.  “I ask forgiveness again, Master.  I fear I have been wasting your time.”

“Explain it to me,” said the Master.

“Just as you cannot have fruit with its pit, so too must we view men’s dark sides as essential to their being.  In both cases, we must focus on the good in each.”

The Master brushed the fly aside and took the fruit.  He eyed it for a moment and then bit into it.  He smiled as the juice dribbled down his chin.  “My time has been well-spent.”

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