Said the young man, “I’m strong, I can conquer
Whatever my challenge might be.
But where do I start? What is needed?
Please say – what’s the best job for me?”
Said the old man, “Let’s ponder
The planet that we’re living on –
All the people, the birds, and the plant life
And the fishes and insects, and worms in the ground;
All the myriad life-forms that come, disappear --
The nourishing nuggets of shore-shaping sand;
They all need your care--
That’s your challenge,” he said.
“But I can’t,” said the young man;
That sounds like too much just for me.”
“Then,” said the old man,
“Let’s find something smaller--
Just the people this planet supports.
So – ponder their illness, their warring and hating,
Some beauty of spirit, their far-reaching intellect,
Curious mixtures of genius and dumbth;
The faiths they uphold, their denial
To others the rights for their own --
Their uncontrolled birthing, and lessening sources
Their searching for what life’s about.”
The young man, now humbled, began feeling blue.
“I am worthless, discouraged; it’s too much to do!”
“Oh, no, don’t discourage; keep trying,
Keep hoping and working, but never alone;
Then decide if you’re able, along with the rest
To face the big size of this ultimate test.
“But remember, my son; -- your measure as man, or as species
Is the size of the challenge you’ll dare.”