by Shellen Lubin
March 19, 2021
Story for Friday Night
Loosely based on a scenario by Arthur Schopenhauer
Once upon a time in the middle of a very cold and dark winter, there were seven little porcupines whose parents were out and about far away searching for food in the vast snow-covered forest. The little
porcupines were very very cold in the cutout place in the hill where they were hiding and they had to figure out how to get warm enough to stay alive all by themselves.
They tried to huddle close together, but every time they came near each other, they would get pricked by each other’s quills and wail out in pain, and then the pain would drive them as far apart as they could get. So, then they tried to stay far away from each other, but it was so cold, and they were so afraid to be cold and alone in the dark winter night, and so they tried to come near each other again. But again they got pricked and stung and had to move away from each other. Over and over they went far away and got colder, came closer and got hurt, far away colder, closer more painful, until they were exhausted with the whole adventure.
Finally, the youngest porcupine said, “Wait, wait just one second. What if we come together very very slowly, and very very carefully, and stop just before we get close enough to stab each other with our quills?” The oldest porcupine laughed with disdain and said, “That’s ridiculous. How will we know if we don’t get stabbed how close we can get? There’s no way.” The littlest porcupine thought long and hard, and then she said, “Maybe if we go very very slowly, and very very carefully, we will hurt each other just a little bit before we hurt each other a lot. And, even better, as soon as it starts to hurt, even the teeny weeniest little bit, maybe if we just say ‘Stop’ and the others have to listen, right away and stop.”
“But what if—,” the oldest porcupine started, but the youngest porcupine stopped him firmly with her voice and said, “No matter howcold you are, how close you are, how much you think they’re wrong
and you should be able to get closer, if someone says stop, you just stop.” The rest of the porcupines started muttering, because they weren’t used to listening to each other, or anyone else. They were just used to getting closer and being hurt or getting further and being cold. “Why should we listen to you?” scoffed the oldest porcupine. “You’re so young, and little, what do you know?” And the youngest porcupine said, “I believe that if we’re willing to listen to each other, we can get closer and get warmer even if it’s not as close and as warm as we’d like, and, yes, maybe we’ll even hurt each other some, but we will survive.”
And that is what they did.