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The useless tree

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(China)

Once upon a hill where today stands a single tree there was a leafy grove. The woodcutters walked by and said:

“We’ll never be able to cut a plank straight from that crooked tree.”

So they cut down the other trees and always left that one intact.

The loggers came to fetch logs to sell and said:

“The crooked tree will smell bad when it burns.”

And they cut others, leaving that one standing.

Next came the carvers, looking for easy-to-work wood, and said:

“This crooked tree will do us no good. It’s too gnarled and old.”

They, too, left her aside and went to cut others.

Over time, the large gnarled tree was left alone on the hill. Now, during the day, children play in its shadow. At night the old men gather around his trunk. They sigh and talk about their lives. One of them asks:

– What use is it to be useless?

Another answers:

– Look up! Once upon a time, there was an entire forest on this hill. Now there is only this bent tree, full of thick foliage. If this tree had been useful, my friend, it would not have aged full of leafy branches! Heather Forest Wisdom Tales From Around The World Arkansas, August House, Inc., 1996

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