Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Black Sheep And The Barn, A Parable of Unsubtle Symbolism

A huge group of brightly colored sheep stood in a crowded and heavily littered barn. A herd gathered near the door as one of their friends, a black sheep, ambled in from Outside.

“Why are you all still here?” the black sheep asked. “Outside is awesome.”

“It is,” said a pink paisley sheep. “I was there a few minutes ago. I love it. We should all go there.”

“Why did you come back here?” the black sheep asked. She was there largely trying to figure out what was up with the pink paisley sheep.

The pink paisley sheep shrugged. “Most of the herd is still here.”

“Well, yes...” admitted the black sheep. Some of the Outside Sheep considered that to be a major plus of Outside, but the black sheep was frustrated by it. She wanted to be Outside with her herd.

A tie-dyed sheep nodded agreement with the pink paisley sheep. “I'll go Outside after most of the herd has.”

There was a general mummer confirming that most of the group thought this was the way to go.

“But...” said the black sheep, her ears drooping. “Only forty-nine percent of you can do that. Everyone else has to go before half of us have.”

The tie-dyed sheep was a smart enough sheep to know that was true, but didn't seem bothered by it. “I love my herd and don't want to leave them.”

Well, the black sheep loved her herd too. That's why she'd bothered coming back Inside to try to get them instead of just frolicking in the forest she was trying to show them.

“But... There's so much more space for the herd to play in Outside,” the black sheep tried. “There's clean air and things you can hide behind. The sky doesn't amplify noise like the barn roof does. Outside is so much prettier to look at. And you can eat fresh grass instead of having to pick grains out of piles of stale potato chips.”

“Hey!” said a sparkly blue sheep. “I happen to like potato chips!”

“And that's alright,” the black sheep said quickly. She herself couldn't stand stale potato chips, but the sparkly blue sheep's enthusiasm about them had always been endearing to her. “You can still come back Inside for them. You don't have to live here to eat them.”

“Yes,” agreed a green striped sheep. “And Outside really is nice.”

The black sheep perked up. “Are you coming Outside then?”

“No,” said the green striped sheep. “Although I'll visit.”

It was better than nothing. “Alright... And the rest of you?”

“I don't want to visit,” said the tie-dyed sheep. “Not until most of my friends have left Inside.”

“But...” The black sheep shook her head. The tie-dyed sheep complained about the conditions in the barn almost daily, but clearly wasn't ready to budge. The black sheep supposed that was her right. “Okay... But I'm not coming back here.”

The other sheep gasped. “Why not?” they demanded. “We're here and we're not leaving! Don't you care about us?”

“Of course I care about you,” said the black sheep. “I'm just not happy in here.”

Her friends stared. “But... We're in here.”

“Yes, I know,” said the black sheep. “And I'll miss everyone who doesn't come visit me Outside. But if you won't go until your friends stop grazing here... Well, I guess I'll just give you one less friend Inside this stinky barn.”

“I like the barn,” a small peach sheep said quietly.

The black sheep smiled. “Then I'm happy for you. And you won't have to listen to me try to get sheep to leave anymore. I really do hope you continue to like the barn.”

The black sheep felt like a cliché as she left the herd, but she did it anyway. If the world needed rebels, well... That's what black sheep were for, wasn't it?

She made her way back to her patch of forest and sat down under her favorite tree. She missed her herd and knew she would be lonely for a while. But it felt really good to be out of that barn.

She smiled at the snowy white sheep across the grove from her and waved to the shiny silver sheep one tree over. They smiled and waved back as the breeze ruffled their wool.

(Sheep image by Sahiri.)


ananda.tashie said...

But that barn has a silly little game called Fairyland that a certain sheep likes playing to help save rain forests. (It's funner to pay the developers money than to donate directly to a charity). ;D

Also, this same sheep has relatives. She figures most of her friends will migrate over to Google+. But, it's the faraway relatives that care about a lot of the kid crap she posts anyway.

So, this sheep currently has to run around between the two. How long or how much is still yet undetermined.

She does like wearing black sometimes though...

Andy Brokaw said...

And the black sheep loves the fairy-loving sheep and is happy she'll still be seeing her some. :)

Curtis Carstens said...

Outside is the name of a cruise ship by a travel company that has launched 3 cruise ships before. Each of those ships sank. I don't know why, but they are gone. Maybe this company has learned enough from these losses to have a successful launch this time and maybe not. The world is full of black sheep that love to try the newest ships. Willing to be patient with the unpracticed crew and give suggestions on how the Feng shui can be improved. These are important sheep to every ship. Most sheep however look to minimize frustration in there lives and enjoy the familiar barn. Because the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts it takes a much improved ship with a strong safety record to lure sheep away. No sheep wants to spend half his day in the barn and half on the ship so they have to choose. If the black sheep never come back to the barn we will all wonder if the ship sank again or if they have sailed to Shangri-La. If however, the black sheep come back to the barn after each trip and share their adventures, each departing trip will include a few more trusting sheep than the last. Gathering momentum for the cruise ship company. I've never seen the barn as a permanent structure but there seem to be far fewer fences than on the ship. Increasing the chances that I randomly meet very cool like minded sheep. It may well be that the world ends up working on the ship and playing at the barn.

DayAlMohamed said...

Umm, baa? Humbug.

:) No real commentary, just had to say that. It popped into my head.

Andy Brokaw said...

@Curtis, the main attraction I feel to Outside is that anyone can go there. It's part of the world. The barn, by contrast, is members only and you can't even look inside it without joining the Inside Herd...

@Day, I love you and your awesomeness. :)