Sunday, October 31, 2010


Edwin H. Friedman has written a collection of fables posing “dilemmas of human phenomenon.” The first time I read the first fable I was horrified at his proposition and I quivered for more than a week.

The fable describes a man who has, after much thought, determined his life’s goal. He packs a satchel and heads out to achieve it. He has a vision.

Traversing a bridge he sees a stranger approaching from the other side carrying a coil of rope looped around his waist and shoulder. They greet each other. The stranger asks the man to hold the end of his rope for a minute.

Not wishing to be rude—but wishing he had kept walking—the man reluctantly agrees. He no sooner holds the rope end in his hand than the stranger walks to the side edge of the bridge, uncoils the rope and jumps off.

Dr. Friedman recounts the conversation between the man and the stranger dangling at the end of his rope. We read the man recognizing his situation: continue to hold the rope and lose his vision or let go and hear the stranger drop.

In another book Dr. Friedman writes that asking correct questions is more important than searching for a smattering of answers.

The question I read in this fable is: what is the guiding force in the man’s life?
What question do you see?

Friedman's Fables - The Bridge

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