A friend told me this old story the other day, and I wanted to share it. Once upon a time, a man who craved the easy life visited a sorceress.
“I can conjure up a genie,” the sorceress said. “He’ll do whatever you ask.”
“Sold,” the man said.
“But you have to keep the genie busy. If he has nothing to do, he’ll eat you.”
“Don’t worry,” the man said. “I’ve got plenty for the genie to do.”
“As you wish. Cash or charge?”
The genie was a small, unassuming fellow who barely made eye contact with the man.
“Master, I am ready to serve,” he said in a near whisper.
“Build me a palace.”
In less than five minutes, the genie built a palace. The man asked for soldiers, servants and dancing girls, and got them quicker than he could say lickety-split. He asked for fancy clothes, a fleet of carriages and a herd of Arabian horses. Done, done and done.
“Master, I am ready to serve,” the genie said.
“Master! I am ready to serve!” the genie said. “Or I will eat you!”
After that scare, the man asked for a change of pants, then requested a trip to the sorceress.
“I see your genie’s hungry,” the woman said.
“Make him go away,” the man said. “I’ll pay whatever you want.”
“Master, I am ready to serve.”
“Fix me a chicken potpie,” the man said, and immediately started eating.
“I can’t help you,” the sorceress said, “but there’s a wise man on the mountain.”
“Take me to the wise man,” he commanded, and there was the wise man. “Genie, fetch me a piece of cheese from the moon.”
You and I know that cheese comes from Wisconsin, but the genie had to look everywhere on the moon to make sure there was no cheese. This gave the man time.
“Wise man,” he said, “I’ve got to find a way to keep this genie busy or he’s going to eat me.”
The wise man thought, but not for long because he was a very good wise man. He pulled a curly, white hair from his head.
“Give your genie this hair and tell him to straighten it out. He’ll pull it straight, then let it go and it’ll curl up. He’ll keep working on this until you need him for something else.”
“Master, here is your cheese,” the genie said. “It’s Wisconsin cheddar.”
“Thank you, genie,” the man said. “Take this hair and straighten it out.”
The plan worked. Whenever the man needed a task performed, the genie did it, then went back to the hair. The man remained the master, the genie remained the servant.
Here’s what I like most about my friend’s story: You’re the master, and the genie is your mind. Give it stuff to do, and don’t let it eat you.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal