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Story Text
There is a valley between two mountains in which a small village lies. In this modest village lived a great and wise man, who was known far and wide as the “answer keeper.” He knew when it would rain so the villagers could plant their crops. He could tell when the frost would come so the villagers would know when to harvest. He knew how to treat illness and could predict and prevent impending sickness. He was well respected among the villagers, and people came from all over to seek his advice and counsel. The people would bring questions and the wise man would provide answers.

There was a young boy in the village who was trying to carve his way in the world. He was suffering greatly internally as he felt he had been unable to prove that he had accomplished any real feat worthy of the respect of others. In frustration, he decided to challenge the most well respected man in the village. He believed that challenging and defeating the most well respected man in the village would bring him the glory and respect he longed for.

He told his friends of how he would bring this great man down. He said to his friends, “I will take a baby bird and offer it to the great man of knowledge, and I will ask the wise man two questions:

‘What do I have in my hands and is it alive or dead?’

The wise man will know that it is a bird but right when he answers the second question---if he says that it is alive, I will crush it with my hands, and if he says that it is dead, I will open my hands and let it fly free.”

The boys’ peers were impressed with his plan, and they walked through the village telling all who would listen. A crowd soon gathered following the boy to the wise man’s hut. The wise man welcomed the young man and offered him an opportunity to speak. With great defiance and challenge, the young adolescent thrust the bird within his closed hands before the man of knowledge and asked—

“What do I have in my hands and is it alive or dead?”

The wise man looked at the boy’s hands and says, “Why, you have a baby bird in your hands.” The boy says quickly “Yes, is it alive or dead?”

The wise man thought reflectively and looking from the boy’s hands to the boy’s eyes replies, “The answer lies in your hands.”
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