the hermit and his well

once upon a time
there was an aging hermit
living alone in a forest cabin

each day
the hermit chopped wood
and carried water
from a stream down the hill
but it was hard work
carrying water up the hill each day
so the hermit determined
to dig himself a well next to the cabin
that he might have easier access to water

with great enthusiasm
the hermit set forth with his spade
and began to dig a hole in the earth
the first few shovelfuls were easy enough
a bit of plant cover, soils, small rocks
further down the digging was more difficult
with larger roots and stones

and so the hermit
wiping his brow
looked for a more promising spot
and began to dig a new hole
this time
the hermit made further progress
but again
rocks and thick roots and clay
hindered his work
so the hermit went to another place
and dug another hole
with similar results

for months this went on
until the hermit
still not striking water
gave up on his plan to dig a well
and resigned himself
to carrying water
up the hill from the stream

one day a pilgrim chanced upon the hermit
struggling up the hill with water in tow
and the pilgrim
driven to compassion
helped the hermit and his water
up the hill
and to his cabin

the pilgrim witnessed the ground
all around
littered with shallow holes

“what is the meaning of this?”
the pilgrim inquired

and the hermit
reluctantly recounted his tale
of the great amount of labour expended
for no reward
and of his resignation
to carrying water up the hill from the stream
until the end of his days

the pilgrim exhorted
“if only you had stayed focused on a single hole
surely you would have a fruitful well by now!”

this is the moral of concentration