Unicist Riddle: The Centipede


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Many, many years ago a centipede, which lived in a forest, had unsolvable problems. His salary was insufficient to pay for the shoes he used. His life was empty. No cinema, no theatre, no vacations; nothing that required money to be bought.
The centipede searched for solutions all over the forest. He went from stone to stone, from tree to tree, from friend to friend. No solutions were found, just desperation.

Finally he met a friend who proposed him a solution. Why don’t you visit the owl? He is the senior consultant of the forest. He is wise and counsels everybody. He is really respected in the forest.

After thinking it over for some time, he decided to go. His situation was unbearable. No cinema, no anything. Surviving was the most he could do.
The great day came and with hope and joy he visited the owl and told him his story. The owl listened carefully and respectfully. Finally after reflecting on the centipede’s problem he proposed a solution.

“I have the solution for your problem,” said the owl. “Put on a pair of wings and fly”.
“Thank you!” replied the centipede. “I have finally found my way. Now I will be able to go to the cinema and to the theatre.  I will be able to live my life again.”
After leaving the owl’s room, the centipede thought, ‘how can I do that?”
Immediately he returned to owl’s office and asked him how to put on wings and fly.
With the same formality he had used before the owl replied.
“Look, the responsibility of a consultant is to propose ideas. Implementation is the client’s responsibility.”
The centipede did not just leave the room. He fled…..

He stayed alone for more than a month. His problem was harassing him. He saw no way out. His alternative was to commit suicide, but he could not find the courage to do so.

Some time after, while resting on a stone with his eyes looking nowhere, an ant saw his depressive look.
“What is wrong with you? Why are you sad? The day is nice, it is spring; what is your problem?” the ant asked.
The centipede felt the need to tell him his story. The ant listened carefully and suggested that he go talk with the eagle (*), the other counselor in the forest.
“No way! I do not want to talk with anybody again.” said the centipede.
“You have no choice”, replied the ant. “And please consider that it was very helpful in my case.”

Finally he decided to go. He was really scared.
The eagle had a penetrating sight that appeared extremely aggressive. The centipede began to tell him his sad history, but he could not finish. The eagle interrupted him.
“I have the solution for your problem”, said the eagle.
“I have seen this movie before” thought the centipede.
“Just use half of the shoes. Use one foot with a shoe and leave the next barefooted. Thus you will reduce the cost of the shoes you have to buy. After having this done for a month, please visit me again.”
He left the room limping. Toc, non-toc, toc, non-toc.
Finally he rebelled. He threw all the shoes away.
“No more!!!” He said, and began walking barefooted.

He had found his way. He didn’t use shoes anymore.
That is why, to this day, centipedes do not use shoes.
He never visited the eagle again. What for? His life was on its way. From time to time, when the eagle and the centipede met in the forest, they would smile at each other.

(*) Eagles and owls are deadly enemies in nature.

Excerpt from the book “Unicist Riddles” by Peter Belohlavek.

What are the groundings of the eagle’s proposal?
Why are eagles and owls deadly enemies in nature?

Riddles have many solutions. In the Far East, riddles are used to develop internal freedom and responsibility.

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