The King Who Wanted to Touch the Moon
Long ago, in a faraway place, the good King Westerfal ruled his peaceful kingdom with kindness. He paid attention to his people and saw their gifts and talents and recognized the value they brought to the kingdom. The king noticing the particular talents of a woodworker who made beautiful chests named him the Royal Carpenter.
Once when strolling in his garden, the king heard two gardeners talking and one said to the other, “King Westerfal is the greatest king in the world; he can do anything!” The king silently agreed. Outside the palace he heard the guards talking and praising him for all his good leadership and they said, “He’s the greatest king in the world; he can do anything!” And the king silently agreed.
The king heard so much of this kind of talk that he began to be discontent with ordinary things of life and found himself wanting to do more things, to have more experiences that weren’t so ordinary. One night while contemplating this during his evening walk, the moon shone brightly on the garden floor. Looking up admiring its beauty and wonder, he suddenly became obsessed with touching the moon.
He called for the Royal Carpenter to build several chests so he could stand up on them and perhaps reach the moon. The carpenter built 10, and the king clambered on top of them, but they were not enough–the moon was still out of reach. So the king called for more and more chests to be built, but still not enough. Finally standing on top of 150 chests the king called for more and the carpenter replied, “there are no more chests, and no more wood to build with.”
“Well then,” yelled the king, “take the one from the bottom and send it up.”
The king’s desire to touch the moon blinded him to obvious facts.
But the carpenter had to comply, so he pulled out the bottom chest then ran out of the garden. The tower of chests, of course, toppled to the ground.
So it’s a story about pride, or about the need for humility. It’s about how over the top praise is somewhat poisonous — lots of moral points that are useful in this old Caribbean tale.
But the thing that really gets me today is that sometimes our desires can put other people in a really bad place. What is your take away?