The Girl and the Filberts

While technology may change, human behavior does not. At least, that’s what reading the collection of Aesop’s Fables suggests. The characters and motivations in the parables, attributed to Aesop after he died in 564 BCE, remain relevant today.

Aesop 2021 projects these well-known (and not-so-known) stories into an age only a stone’s throw from our own. When cynicism and pessimism abound, hope becomes a rebellious act against the tyranny of the default. Each story recasts a fable’s lesson from our upcoming solarpunk future as a software tale.

The Aesop 2021 project is part of the Never Break the Chain March Writing Challenge. The original sources were translated by George Fyler Townsend and provided under the Project Gutenberg license. Addition reference provided by a Library of Congress interactive book adapted from the public domain book “The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter,” published by Rand, McNally & Co in 1919.

Below is the latest installment.

A picture

A young Girl, helping tend the living classroom, put her hand up and into a seed dispenser. She grasped as many filberts as she could hold from the tank, but when she tried to pull out her hand, the narrow neck of the opening prevented her from doing so.

Frustrated by being stuck but unwilling to drop any of what she clutched in their hand, she began to cry. An assistant, observing quietly, came over and knelt. “If you only take a little, your hand will slide right out. You can always come back again if you need more.” The assistant balled their fist and held it by the wrist with their other hand, “Take on too much, too fast, and problems will follow.”

Original Fable

A BOY put his hand into a pitcher full of filberts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull out his hand, he was prevented from doing so by the neck of the pitcher. Unwilling to lose his filberts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, he burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him, “Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand.”

Moral of the Stories

In software, as in life, an incremental approach often works best. Trying to accomplish something all at once, or taking more than one’s share, will cause unanticipated problems.