Welcome to the second installment of “Creativity, it’s not what you think…” In the last installment, the poor-but-wise man gave the three princes four challenges they had to pass. The young Prince of Belle left quickly and took a fast ship to a distant land. The other two princes: the Prince of Arbor, and the Prince of Lanti, felt confident they could win these challenges immediately. Let’s see how the first two princes make out as they attempt the first challenge…
THE PRINCE OF ARBOR ATTEMPTS THE CHALLENGES
The Prince of Arbor, not caring or even wondering where The Prince from Belle had gone, ran directly to the river’s edge, eager to begin the challenges. Trusting in providence to help him through, he cried to the princess, “Here go I, Milady!” This particular spot in the river had several partially submerged boulders just below the surface of the river. The prince waded into the cold, shallow water out to the deeper part of the river where the partially submerged rocks were, and began leaping from stone to submerged stone in the river, giving the impression to the crowd that he was indeed walking on water. When he reached the middle of the river where there was a gap in the rocks, he paused only a moment, gauging the distance to where the rocks began again, some two body-lengths away. He began running as fast as he could over the forbidding water, trying to reach the safety of the next rock. Of course, he immediately began to sink.
When he touched bottom, the surface of the water was only inches above his head. However, the weight of his water-soaked satin, and the richly adorned scabbard and sword made it impossible to break the surface. He drowned, his death hastened by the very riches for which he lived.
The wise man raised his eyebrows in surprise, but the next prince, the Prince of Lanti, did not hesitate, and strode confidently toward the river. He silently assured himself that he could learn from the Prince of Arbor’s mistake, and succeed where his fellow prince had failed. He reached the water that was now his rival’s tomb, and slowly began wading into the cold, unforgiving river.
The Prince of Belle Arrives in a Distant Land
Many weeks later, when the young Prince of Belle finally reached the distant land, he immediately felt two sensations. The first was a mixture of the excitement, renewed energy and curiosity that flowed through him from the new sights, sounds and smells that assailed his senses. The soft breeze, filled with the memory of the ocean and the promise of adventure, caressed his face. His eyes feasted on a collage of rich colors of every imaginable hue displayed on the bright tents of the nearby market and on the clothing of the people of this land.
The second sensation was a feeling of anticipation. Somehow, he knew that the answers he sought were to be found in this wondrous place.
The prince was startled out of his reverie by a most unusual character. A man had suddenly leapt over the rampart of the ship, and had fallen against him. The man was of average build and height, but nothing else about this man seemed ordinary. When the startled prince turned, he saw what he expected to see; the man’s surprised and apologetic expression. Next to the man’s head, he saw something he did not expect to see; did not expect at all! Around the man’s neck was a thick leather collar. Attached to the collar, sticking straight up in the air on both sides of his head, were two large items even with his ears. One was a carved wooden replica of a hand, and the other was a piece of metal, brightly polished to a mirror-like shine.
The prince’s confusion was not assuaged by the stranger’s curious greeting: “Sorry for slipping into you, good sir! Like a good cup of tea, I gave you a stir!”
“I beg your pardon?” said the Prince of Belle.
The kind face with deep laugh lines and dancing eyes gave him a ready smile. “I beg your pardon, sir! I decided to talk all day in rhymes, but maybe it’s time to reconsider, I want you as a friend, and not to feel bitter! Oh my stars, that one slipped!” he exclaimed as he snapped his fingers, looking slightly disappointed for a fleeting instant, then grandly amused with himself.
While the stranger was speaking, the prince carefully examined the thick collar around the man’s neck, and the attached wooden hand that framed the left side of his face, and rectangular piece of metal attached on the right side. The hand and the metal were positioned in such a way that if the man turned his head to either side, one or the other were directly in front of his face.
“By the heavens, why do you wear that hand and piece of metal? My good man, it looks…quite…odd.”
“Tony is the name good sir, and the answer to your question is in my name..”
The prince was about to protest when Tony continued rather immodestly, “You see, the problem is that I am so very attractive to the womenfolk, and there are so many of them in this fair city that, well, I don’t have time to put new bait on my hook before I go fishing, if you get my meaning! So when I spy a cute maiden coming, I use the hand to help check the freshness of my breath, and the metal to determine my looks. This leaves my hands free to tuck in my tunic, and to get my magic ready!”
“That’s all well and good” said The Prince of Belle, “but why go to all the trouble—and doesn’t the hand and metal plate scare them away?”
“Well, I told you that the answer to your question was in my name, and by my good name, I intend to tell you the answer. But first I must tell you, I didn’t bump into you to tell you about my creative musings, nor did I bump into you by accident. We have received word of your coming and believe we can help.”
The prince was startled at this news because no one, including himself, knew he was going on this journey until just before the ship sailed.
“We knew anyway” Tony replied when the prince shared his surprise. “Because of the fine reputation that precedes you, even in this distant land, we would like to help you.”
“We?” said the prince.
“Yes, my fellow magicians and I. There are four of us altogether, and I think between all of our magnificent minds, yours included, we can help you discover the answers to your challenges.”
“You know about the challenges, too?” said the prince.
“Yes, and a great many things besides! Let us go and meet my friends, and begin the exciting work of untangling your particular knot. So come with me to learn what you already know.”
The prince was again about to protest the enigmatic way he spoke, when Tony said, “Come, I think we can get there this way!” and disappeared down an alley.
“How can you not know the way to your own house?” wondered the prince as he broke into a run, as Tony’s contagious enthusiasm was beginning to work on him.
The Prince of Lanti Attempts the Challenges
When the Prince of Arbor did not emerge from the river, the Prince of Lanti saw his opportunity. He walked with gigantic strides to the riverbank, feeling confidence course through his huge frame. His face was excited by the prospect of conquering this challenge where the other prince had failed. If he had stopped to think about it, he would realize he had absolutely no idea how he was going to do it.
Crying “Here go I, Milady!” he followed the footsteps of his unfortunate neighbor. He paused when he got to the spot in the river where the other prince had drowned. He looked into the river, and at the two body-lengths of water he had to cross before reaching the other boulders. He paused for a moment and then leaped with all his tremendous might, landing with his heavy right foot squarely on the head of the drowned Prince of Arbor. He took another mighty leap and was soon on the other shore. The crowd roared its approval, but the beautiful princess shed a quiet tear, and looked into the distance where her beloved Prince of Belle had gone. The poor-but-wise-man knew there had been trickery and bending of the rules, but only said, “There are still three challenges. Onward!”
The Prince of Lanti was a huge man; you might call him a giant. Because of his enormous strength, he felt confident of the second challenge, to throw a tree over the high palace dome. The crowd followed him up the hill to the palace dome, encouraging him along the way with their cheers of adulation. In his eagerness to continue, he started pushing people out of the way, even tipping over a fortune teller’s table, spilling all her possessions onto the ground. He stopped by a towering ancient cedar tree that grew next to the dome and straining with all of his enormous might, just managed to pull it out of the ground.
With a clenched fist salute to the crowd, and a blown kiss and a wink to the beautiful girl, he bent down to pick up the tree. He balanced it by the roots for a moment, looking way up into the sky to the top of the polished golden palace dome. With a mighty yell, he hurled the tree straight up into the sky, and then fell to the ground, so exhausted he didn’t watch to see if the tree made it over the dome.
If he had been watching, he would have seen the tree travel straight up into the air, then come crashing straight back down. The tree landed on top of the prone prince, crushing him under its weight.
The crowd turned away, disappointed in their champion. The princess walked slowly home, lost in thought. She was thinking of her final hope, her best hope, the Prince of Belle, and wondering how he was faring in the distant land.
A note from the Author:
Thank you for reading Part 2 of Creativity: It’s not what you think. Remember, this is a parable. Could you spot some of the common mistakes people make when trying to overcome a challenge? Just rushing headlong into the fray without any plan or forethought? Thinking that if you do the same thing that someone else tried, somehow it will succeed when you try it?
Make sure to check out the next installment of the story: Part 3 is when it really heats up. The next part of the story is full to the brim with the actual techniques for creating ideas, and an exciting, memorable life.
Copyright © 2020 Gerard A. Evanski. All rights reserved. Reproduction and distribution without written permission of the author is strictly prohibited.