Once upon a time...... a stonecutter worked at the hard rock face of the quarry, chip, chip, chip, chipping away at the tough surface. The sound of the mallet and chisel constantly rung in his ears: chip, chip, chip.
His job was slow and arduous. In summer the heat of the sun reflected off the rocks, making his workplace as hot as a furnace. In winter, there was no shelter from the rain or cold that turned the quarry as frigid as an icebox. As he chipped away, he spent his time wishing for a better life, yearning for the power to change his circumstances. He would fantasize himself in places of which he could only dream, for he knew that his fantansies would never be - or so he thought.
Late one day, as he was dragging his tired body home, he passed the lavish mansion of a nobleman. Peering inside, he saw the affluent dress of the rich man, the beauty of his wife, the plentiful food on their table, and thought to himself, "If only I could be that nobleman, I would be rich and powerful. I could escape all the problems and discomforts of life as a stonecutter. Oh, how I wish I were a nobleman."
The stonecutter was shocked and surprised, for no sooner had he made the wish he found himself seated at the head of the table. He became the very nobleman he had been observing, richly clad, with a beautiful wife by his side, and all the food he could imagine set out on the table. He enjoyed his new life, the affluence and power. He was able to order around his servants, his employees and his wife. He relished his authority and flaunted it haughtily, but things were to change.
One day the king came to visit the nobleman's town. Because of his noble status he was obliged to participate in a guard of honour. He had to humble himself before his ruler. As he bowed in subservience, he again started to wish for something more. He thought to himself, "The king has more imfluence and power than a nobleman, I wish I were the king."
Hardly had the thought crossed his mind before he found himself mounted on the king's horse, clothed in legal robes and flanked by loyal troops. His route was lined by prostrating people, including the nobleman he had so recently been.
Returning to his palace, he seated himself on the high, autocratic throne, while the subjects of his realm presented themselves to him, bowing and bringing gifts. This was the life. Being a ruler was great. He thought he really could take to this kind of lifestyle. It sure beat being a stonecutter.
He made the most of his position. He travelled to the farthest reaches of his domain. He loved the power that forced everyone - peasants, priests, academics and nobility - to prostrate themselves before him. On one such summer journey, an intense and relentless sun beat down on the King. He sweltered in his regal robes. His royal personage was forced to perspire. He had no control over it and he had to abandon his power quest to seek shade. There in the shadows his envious thoughts again emerged. "The sun," he mused, "has great power. It is even more powerful than a king. I wish I were the sun."
The magic that had transformed him previously worked instantly once again. he found himself high in the sky, shedding light on the world, beaming down upon kings and emperors, burning sunbathers, He could force people to seek shelter from the heat, retreat from their fields or take a reluctant afternoon siesta. This was the greatest. He relished the power..... until one day a cloud floated across the sky and blocked off his light. At first he was annoyed. Then he began to think," the cloud is strong enough to block the heat and light of the sun. The cloud is therefore more powerful than the sun. I wish I were a cloud."
Instantly he was again transformed. He floated around the sky as a tall, fluffy, cumulous cloud. He could rain down on earthlings and watch them run for cover or search for umbrellas. He could rob the heat from the sun and create a cool chill. He could make rivers breach their banks and dams burst their walls. He could cause floods that demolished houses. Yes, the cloud definitely had power. That was the way he always wanted life to be.... until one day a sudden wind howled through the heavens, blowing the cloud away. The cloud was powerless. it had neither strength nor direction. "The wind," thought the cloud, "that is where the power lies. The wind is more powerful than a cloud. I wish I were the wind."
In another act of magical transformation, the cloud instantly became the wind. Howling through the trees, rushing across the land, tearing topsoil from paddocks, blowing umbrellas inside out, taking roofs off houses and flattening haystacks, the stonecutter had great fun as the wind. "This is the life" he thought, "I have unlimited power." He blew ferociously around the globe. He whipped up seas. He sunk boats. He caused huge waves to crash on tiny islands. he had never enjoyed himself more....until one day. He huffed out one almighty blow that just came to a sudden halt. In front of him stood a tall cliff that remained unmoved. He tried again, unable to bend or shake the almighty cliff. "The cliff" thought the wind, "can stop my wildest gales. Obviously the cliff is more powerful than the wind. I wish I were the cliff."
Instantly he became the cliff. Tall and strong he could hold out against the worst hurricanes the wind could hurl at it. People came to admire his grandeur and worship his natural beauty. They picnicked at his base or tried to match their strength to his by climibing his face. He was a dominating presence over the entire countryside. "Yes, this is it," he thought, "At last I have found it. At last I am powerful. I am the cliff."
The thought had barely entered his mind, when, down at his base, he heard a steady, "chip, chip, chip."