Keep Your Eye on the Bunny: A traditional Chinese fable

In English there is the expression “a long shot” or “a very long shot”, used to describe slim or very slim chances of success. In Chinese, a phrase, a fable really, carries the same meaning “The man who waited for the next rabbit to crash into his favorite tree.”

The story goes like this:

A peasant was toiling along in his field and he hated his work. The sun was beating down; he was all sweaty and hungry, too. “There must be a better way to make a living,” he mumbled to himself. Just then, a rabbit dashed by him, having just escaped from some hunting dogs. The rabbit was frightened and was running very fast. Failing to make a proper turn at a critical moment, it banged right into the trunk of a tree. Its neck broken, the rabbit died. The astounded farmer walked over and picked up the unexpected game. That night he ate well.

The farmer then made a decision that would change his whole life (no kidding). He would give up farming altogether and devote himself to keeping watch of that amazingly productive tree; he would live comfortably on nutritious rabbits with broken necks .

In Chinese the expression is “shou zhu dai tu” (watch tree, wait rabbit).


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