Ask What You Will

by Alice Woodrome

When time began the Great Spirit shaped the world and brought forth animals to populate his creation. Mankind was his crowning achievement. They were neither old nor young, male nor female, intelligent nor foolish, beautiful nor homely. They just were -- and their creator loved them

"I want you to be happy," the Great Spirit told mankind. Ask what you will and I will give it to you."

Humanity did not know what to ask because life was new. "Just give us the best of everything," they finally said.

So that is what the Great Spirit did. He gave them the best and made their environment harmonious in all its particulars. Every day was the very best weather. The sun stayed at just the right spot in the heavens for the best temperature. The soil was fertile and brought forth bounteous harvests without effort. There was always just the right amount of light for the crops. Underground streams provided just the right amount of moisture for their cabbage, carrots, broccoli and beans - all the very healthiest food. There was plenty to eat, plenty to drink, plenty of everything: and the best mankind could ask for.

They worked and played when they wanted to, but their bodies never grew weary. They spent all their time surrounded by beauty, and everyone did as they pleased. Since everyone agreed on every matter, there were never any disagreements. Mankind and all the animals lived together in peace and serenely.

But it wasn't long before humanity grew very tired of vegetables. In fact they simply grew tired of everything. They were bored.

"Is this all there is to life?" they asked the Great Spirit. "We're not happy."

"Why?" asked their creator. "I've given you everything you ask for."

" There must be something else."

"But I've given you the best part of everything:
all your need are supplied on this beautiful planet,
you live in peace with each other and the animals.
Every one of you is perpetually healthy.
You have the most nourishing foods always available.
What more could you ask?"

"But we want more," mankind said.

"The only thing I can give you that you don't already have
is the opposite of what I have already given you,"
the Great Spirit said. "Are you sure that is what you want?"

They were sure; so that was what the creator did.
He directed the planets, including earth,
to begin orbiting the sun, creating day and night,
a reprieve from the monotony of daylight all the time.
He divided animals and man into male and female,
and made some of them old and some young,
but all began to age.
Some he gave beauty,
some intelligence, some wisdom,
and to others, diverse talents.

The Great Spirit divided the animals,
humans among them,
into predator and prey.
He created many other foods for mankind,
and also other plants and insects.
He sent the full spectrum of weather,
including hail, snow, and mighty winds.
In every aspect of life on earth,
the Great Spirit provided variety,
as mankind had requested.

Things began to happen.
Discussions among humanity were livelier,
but often became arguments.
People were not so bored,
but stress became very common.
Their diet was more appealing,
but fear and hunger arrived in the land
and people sometimes became ill and died.
Mankind grew weary of work,
but enjoyed sweet rest from their labors at night.
Sometimes the crops did not do well,
but when they did, there was more rejoicing.
All in all, life was more interesting.

Mankind was not satisfied, though.
"We like some of the changes you made,
but there is a lot more unhappiness in the world.
We really like eating meat for a change,
but now the animals are afraid of us and of one another.
The weather is more interesting, but we have to work very hard
to grow our grain and vegetables now.
Did you have to give us bugs?
And what were you thinking when you gave us disease?
We like that everyone does not look the same or have the same talents,
but why did you have to make some people so unreasonable?
It is not that we are ungrateful,
but can't you give us diversity without all this stress?

"No," the creator answered.