We have been experiencing some very windy weather here in the Pacific North West. Accompanied by some unseasonably cold temperatures, the wind chill has been cutting through everyone. The skies have been clear and the strong winds have given a clarity to the air, while at the same time making swift work of the autumnal job of removing the trees of their leaves - piles are accumulating along the sidewalk.
While out and about in this weather a short story that I first heard when I was a child popped into my mind. The tale has never left me. As a child I was struck by it’s message, for reasons that I didn’t understand at the time, but something in there just felt right. This time I decided to look up the story.
Having nowhere to reference the story and unsure of how well known it was, I reached for Google. It turns out that the story was one of Aesop’s fables. I found many versions of it online, and share one of those below. It’s relevance to introverts and the quiet leaders of this world is there clearly to be seen. I hope that you enjoy it.
The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.
“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.
Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.
“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”
“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.
The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.
The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.
Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.
“How did you do that?” said the Wind.
“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”
From my searches online, the message from the story is commonly articulated as, “Gentle persuasion is stronger than force.” If we were to substitute, as you might already have done, the wind as an extrovert and the sun as an introvert, we see a recognition in the story that quieter ways have their place in the world. The louder ones don’t always win.
Another version of the story has the sun acknowledging the power of the wind and its capabilities. I think that this addition is important and gives the message more strength. It is not a message of either/or but both/and.
But still, the important lesson is that in order to effect change, strength and ability can just as well rest with the quiet ones. Indeed at times, it is those to whom you should turn, though the manifestation of strength might not be what you were envisaging.