An old fox hunter, considered the best in the area, has finally decided to retire.
He gathered his belongings and decided to set off for the south of the country, where the climate was milder.
However, before he could finish packing, he received a visit from a young man.
“I would like to learn your techniques,” said the newcomer. “In return, I will buy your shop, your hunting license, and I will also pay you for all your secrets.”
The old man agreed, they signed a contract and taught the young man all the secrets of fox hunting.
With the money he got, he bought a pretty house in the south, where the climate was so mild that not once during the whole winter did he have to worry about gathering wood for a fire.
But in the spring, he felt homesick for his village and decided to go back to see his friends.
When he arrived, he bumped into the young man who, a few months earlier, had paid him a fortune for his secrets.
“So, how was the hunting season?” said the old fisherman.
“I haven’t caught a single fox.”
The old man was surprised and confused.
“Didn’t you follow my advice?”
With sad eyes, the young man replied, “Well, to be honest, no, I haven’t. I thought your methods were outdated and I ended up figuring out a better way to hunt foxes.”
Make sure to keep the box
The old man has been working all his life. When he retired, he bought a farm for his son to run and decided to spend the rest of his days sitting on the porch of the big house.
His son worked for three years.
Then he started to feel resentful.
He told his friends: “My father does nothing.”
He spends all his time staring at the garden, while I handle him to feed him. One day, he decides to put an end to this unfair situation. He builds a big wooden box, walks out onto the porch and says, “Dad, do you mind going into this box?”
obeyed his father. His son put the box in the back of his truck and drove toward the edge of the cliff.
As he was preparing to push the box, he heard his father say, “Son, throw me over the edge if you must, but take care to keep the box. You are setting an example here, and your children will no doubt need the box for you.”
An old blackbird found a piece of bread and flew with it.
When they saw this, the little birds chased after him in order to attack.
Faced with imminent battle, the blackbird dropped the piece of bread into a snake’s mouth, thinking to himself: “When you’re old, you see things differently. I’ve lost a meal, it’s true, but I can always find another piece of bread tomorrow.”
“However, if I held fast to it, I would start a war in heaven; the winner would be envied, others would swarm over him, hatred would fill the hearts of birds and it could all go over a span of years. Such is the wisdom of old age: knowing how to exchange instant victories for lasting conquests.”
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jules Costa (Paulo Coelho is one of the most widely read authors in the world. His most famous works include The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes, and the Codex Found in Accra.)