One day, Plato asked Socrates, his teacher and mentor, “What is love?”
Socrates replied, “Plato, take a walk through the wheat field nearby. Without turning back, walk forward, and pick the most magnificent stalk of wheat you can find. However, you are allowed to pick only one.”
Plato followed Socrates’ instructions, confident that he would find the best stalk of wheat in the field. Before long though, he returned empty-handed. Socrates asked, “Why have you picked nothing?” Plato replied, “I had found the most magnificent stalk of wheat as soon as I walked into the field, but since I was only allowed one pick, and I could not turn back, I thought I could find a better one further ahead. However, I could not find a better one as I kept searching, so I returned with none.”
“And that is love,” said Socrates.
Some days later, Plato asked Socrates another question. “What is marriage,” he asked. Socrates answered: “Go to the woods, and as before, without turning back, bring me back the best and strongest tree in the forest. Again, you’re only allowed to choose one, so choose wisely.”
Plato walked through the woods, and returned soon after with a tree. However, the tree was not strong nor tall. Socrates asked him, “Is this the best tree in the forest?” Plato answered, “No, but I didn’t want to return empty handed like last time, and while I’m sure there are better trees in the forest, I felt I could not afford to miss the opportunity at this tree.”
“And that is marriage,” said Socrates.
On yet another day, Plato asked, “What is an affair?” Socrates answered, in his usual way, “Head to the woods, and look for the most beautiful flower. This time, you’re allowed to look wherever you want, and you can retrace your steps if you must.” Plato, given these instructions, went into the woods full of confidence. In a short time, he had found the most beautiful, most colorful blooming flower in the forest, and picked it out of the soil for his return. As he returned, however, the flower began to wilt. When he arrived, Socrates asked, “Is this the most beautiful flower in the forest?” Plato answered, “Yes, I discovered this most beautiful of flowers, but as I returned, the flower began to lose its color and beauty.”
“And that, is an affair,” said Socrates.
Now older and wiser, Plato asked Socrates once more, “What is life?” Socrates pondered for a moment, and told Plato, “As before, go to the woods, and find the most beautiful flower there is. You can go anywhere, and pick as many as you want.” Remembering all his previous experiences, Plato walked into the woods again. But after three days and three nights, he had still not returned. Socrates, with a bit of concern, went out in search of Plato. Before long, Socrates had found him, in a makeshift camp that Plato had set up. He asked Plato, “Have you found the most beautiful of flowers?” Plato pointed to a flower right next to his camp site, and said, “That is the most beautiful flower in the forest.” Socrates inquired, “Why have you not picked it yet?” Plato answered thoughtfully, “If I pick it, it would wither like the last one. But even if I don’t pick it, it will wither and die sooner or later. So while it is in full bloom, I will live beside it, admiring it from here. When it finally wilts, I will look for the next most beautiful flower. This is already the second flower.”
Socrates took this in, and said, “Now you understand the essence of life.”
Note: This is one of the most beautiful story i’ve ever heard of and caused me goosebumps! Thanks Yim for your post. I was looking for it!