Shouldering the Burden of the World

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Shouldering the Burden of the World

Who was it who said, ‘Blessed is the man who has found his work’? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work–not somebody else’s work. The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it.” -Mark Twain

Alan’s back was starting to bother him.  He hadn’t expected the assigned task to be so arduous.  As the sun beat down on his forehead, the chore he had been saddled with was becoming irksome.  If Alan were to admit the truth, he wanted to heave the burden off his back and never pick it up again.  However, since he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, he thought that might have some negative repercussions.

At first, Alan thought he could handle doing this favor for the animal with no problem.  If a turtle; or was it a tortoise?  Alan couldn’t tell.  Whichever one it was, Alan felt sure that if this little creature could carry the world and all its contents on its shell, then certainly Alan could pull it off as well.  Now Alan was starting to wonder if the turtle’s four legs hadn’t made things a bit easier for the animal.  In addition, Alan wondered if the turtle hadn’t over simplified things.

It had started out so innocently.  Alan had been sitting by the water fishing.  His pole wasn’t technically in the water and there wasn’t really any bait on the hook.  Alan didn’t feel the need to exert much effort since he never caught fish when he tried.  Then out of the water came an interesting shape.  As it moved toward him, Alan noticed that there was a turtle emerging from the water.  Sure enough, on its back was the whole wide world.

The turtle, being the calm and conversational sort, started off with a very slow and relaxing salutation.  It bobbed its head along slowly as it took a step here and a step there.  Its mouth opened and closed with a leisurely air.  He asked Alan how life was treating him.  Alan replied that he had no complaints, and then made the mistake of asking the turtle how it was.

The heavily-laden turtle sighed loudly.  It launched into a tale of woe about its lot in life.  Some creature had to hold the people, the animals, nature, and take care of it all.  The turtle understood that each creature in this life has their troubles, but it had been many millennia since anything resembling a break had been offered.  The turtle wondered if Alan might possibly take over for it.  The turtle had a long list of errands it had been putting off, plus it wanted to explore the world a bit.

Now, to some people this would all sound rather absurd.  How could the turtle be walking around on the very ground that it is carrying?  How could there be an Earth on the turtle’s back if it is traveling on that same Earth?  Alan thought about making a logical argument, but then the truth hit him.  If an animal has been given enough power to carry all of creation around on its shell, then surely that same animal would have enough power to make mini-turtle selves to chat with simple folks.  Alan pondered the turtle’s predicament.

On the one hand, Alan was no fan of taking on extra work.  He was quite happy not having any problems, let alone carrying around everyone’s.  Yet, as any fool knows, mythical creatures get checked in on by their supervisors whenever there is a blue moon.  Everybody has a higher-up to answer to, and these powerful beings are no exception.  Also, Alan was assured by the turtle that while it couldn’t promise anything specific, the universe would remember any act of kindness that Alan showed.  Deciding that having the universe owe him a favor could only help him in the long run, Alan took on what he assumed would be a short-term chore.

As the hours passed at what seemed like an incredibly sluggish pace, Alan continued to question the wisdom of his confusion.  First and foremost the world was heavy.  Alan had once lost a giant tree in his yard and it had taken him a week to cut up the lumber into small enough pieces that he could manage.  Now he was in charge of countless trees of seemingly endless varieties.

Then there were the rocks.  Oh, the vexing rocks.  Alan wished it was the warm core of The Earth that was against his back.  Instead, he had cold, often jaggy peaks and glaciers stabbing at him.  Plus he was always wet.  If it wasn’t the ocean it was a waterfall.  The lakes, the rivers; the moisture seemed to get in every nook and cranny that they came across.

Of course the discomfort of the terrain itself was not Alan’s only problem.  Humans, being the demanding sort that they are, just kept wailing out with complaints.  Alan had one bad day of dandruff and he didn’t hear the end of it for weeks.  Everyone from Australia to India, including the Philippines and all their island neighbors, cried and vented to the skies about the snowfall.  The blanket of whiteness that crushed their homes and made their homes treacherous was somehow all Alan’s fault.  How was he to know that not using the right shampoo would completely disrupt billions of lives?

Alan no longer knew how many days had passed.  It was hard to keep track of the entire Earth-Sol rotation mathematics when one of the two variables in the equation was pinching his spinal column.  For all he knew, the turtle could have gone for three months, or three days.  Alan simply didn’t know.  He considered turning around and around in circles to speed up the passage of days.  However he assumed that doing such would throw off the Earth’s gravity and possibly the magnetic poles.  Alan was impatient, but he didn’t need that kind of hassle.

In the end, Alan did what he did best.  He lay down and took a nice long nap.  The seasons lasted a little longer than usual that year.  The world waited for fall to come or spring to arrive, but Alan was in no hurry to move.  He simply flopped down on his belly, closed his eyes, and waited for the blue moon to come and the turtle to take back its responsibility.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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