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Timeless Life Lessons from Classic Fables

Back in the days before Amber Alerts and sophisticated police work, children were warned about evil people with the use of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The original Grimm’s Fairy Tales were more sinister and almost like horror stories in their efforts to scare children about the real world. Fables are less frightening, but they are also meant to teach people (especially children) about the facts of life. These fables can be Aesop’s Fables or even religious stories. They often feature animals that are anthropomorphic in the sense they talk and have human-like qualities. If my peers and I can remember these very early life lessons then perhaps it will be possible to shave off some of our inevitable suffering. We can prevent people from taking advantage of our naïveté and realize that it is impossible to "win them all" as the miller and his boy learn in the tale, "The Miller, his Son, and their Donkey."

My favorite fable is from the Book of Aesop’s that was adapted into a classic Disney cartoon called, “The Grasshopper and the Ants” that premiered in 1934. The fable revolves around a grasshopper that only lives for the day. He believes life will be provided by nature and “the world owes him a living.” The foolish grasshopper practically laughs at the ants that work themselves into a frenzy preparing for the harsh winter by gathering food and supplies to store during these unbearable months. The queen ant warns him that he will pay when the winter comes and shows no mercy. Our carefree grasshopper just laughs and points to the abundance of everything surrounding him at that moment. Sure enough the world continues to orbit the sun until the inevitable cycle of winter approaches. The grasshopper is doomed and finds himself on the brink of starvation upon wintertime.

The ants are meanwhile enjoying the fruits of their labors by having a fun time in their tree house with all the food that has been stored during the lush months. The poor grasshopper knocks on the door in desperation and pleads for mercy from the queen who is at first very cold but ends up inviting the grasshopper to stay through the winter only if he entertains everybody by playing his fiddle.

I often feel really bad for this generation because they are not exposed to the same classic cartoons that speckled my childhood with fantasies as well as valuable life lessons. When I think of the lush springtime and summer months in this fable, I think of most of the 1990s, which were unusually prosperous times for many Americans. The stock market was booming, and a lot of individuals were making more money than they had ever seen in their lives. It was enough money to purchase extravagant items such as vintage arcade machines from the 1980s (or at least this is what I would have bought with a lot of money). It was impossible for anyone to see that the Great Recession was coming, but it just did not make sense for a lot of people to put a ton of money in a savings account. A substantial number of people think that having money in a savings account is just like putting it to sleep. It never grows in much interest, but at the same time it is much safer than investing in the stock market! When we occasionally experience wealth we should put some of it away!

Within my savings account in Poughkeepsie, NY I am putting away as much money as possible in hopes that it will be an opportunity to bail myself out of trouble if that time comes one of these days. At one time I had nearly ten thousand dollars to my name because it was left over from my college fund. The money was handed to me due to my summer jobs and efforts to save my family money. I chose not to work for a while because it seemed like the money would last an extremely long time. But this was not the case, and it was not long before I found myself in serious debt. These days, I am doing better but am not quite as good as the ants!

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