There once were four women who decided to undertake the long journey to see the Emperor. They knew it was going to be a long and arduous task. Before they left, they consulted their council of elders for advice. “Stay focused on the path,” they said. “There will be opportunities to depart at every turn, for reasons of beauty, desire, and fear. Expect this, and do not be weak of heart.”
So, the four women departed. Soon enough, when the village had long disappeared, they came across a large city that was hosting a festival. The four women were awash with sights and smells, music and excitement. The first woman said to them, “This is what my heart desires! Not some ridiculous, arduous path. The joy and ease are right here! It is all for the taking.” She decided to stay in the city and left the path.
The other three women grieved at this, knowing that the elders’ advice was true, but they continued on their way. After many days and nights, they toiled through the mountains, the prairies, and under the hot sun. As the trials increased, the second woman grew scared that she couldn’t complete the journey and begin to doubt that the path would actually lead to the Emperor. She started to notice other paths that branched off, paths that looked safer, more stable and secure, and in her fear she left the path.
The third and fourth women grieved at this, knowing that the elders’ advice was true, but they continued on their way. They trekked through the ravines and the deserts. Finally, to their hearts’ elation, they saw the Emperor’s palace in the distance. They were so excited and grateful that they danced gleefully, then started running. As they were running, the third woman noticed another path that seemed like it would be a shortcut. “I’m going to take this path,” she exclaimed to the fourth woman. “The path we are on is too slow! We are so close! This one looks much more direct.” And so, she left the path.
The fourth woman grieved that the third woman left the path when the end was so near, knowing that the elders’ advice was true. She, however, continued on her way. At just the right time, the fourth woman arrived at the Emperor’s palace and was welcomed in with open arms.
© Meisaan Chan