There was once an old withered tree growing amidst the forest in the highlands. The winter was snowing, and very, very cold. One day, a duck flew past from far away. The duck was tired and hungry and so he landed on the old tree’s shoulder to rest.
The old tree asked him, “My friend, have you come from far away?”
The bird replied, “I have. Yes, I have flown in from very, very far away, I was passing overhead and saw you and decided to come and take a rest.”
“Is it beautiful where you come from?” The old tree asked.
“It is. It is very beautiful there. There are flowers, grass, streams, and lakes. There are also my many friends: little fish, little rabbits, squirrels; we live very happy lives together, it really is a splendid place and it is very warm there, not so, brr, freezing as here.”
The old tree sighed, “Oh, is it? You are very fortunate! It isn’t warm here, the weather is bitterly cold. I have never left this spot, nor do I have any friends, my life is very solitary.”
The bird sighed sadly, “Oh, how unfortunate! How lonely your life must be, and the little warmth you know is far too little.”
Right then, a few people passed through the forest. They were weary, cold, and tired. One of them said, “If we only had a fire, we would be able to warm ourselves and rest.”
All of a sudden, they discovered that there was an old withered tree next to the road. They walked over excitedly. When the bird saw the axes in their hands, he quickly flew away and landed nearby. A few of them raised their axes and cut the old tree down. Then they chopped it into firewood.
Soon after, they had a fire roaring despite the ice and snow. The people sat around the fire enjoying the warmth. As they were no longer freezing, they smiled in contentment. The bird cried out, “What a sad old tree, you were so lonely, living alone in this cold, cold world, and now you have met with this horrible fate!”
The wise old tree smiled amidst the flames, “My little friend, no matter how lonely I may have seemed to you, the ending of my life has brought light and warmth to others. But you know, my life is not truly ended.”
Amidst the great waves that pass through our lives, only in giving can we find ourselves closer to a truly better place.