Sunday, 6 March 2016

Writing - Old stories and wives' tales

There are a myriad stories with messages or morals written eons ago and usually for the edification of the young. Grimm, Aesop and more have been renowned for centuries for the skill. Then aligned with moralistic stories are old wives' tales, which are intended to be cautionary and could be quite relevant on Mother's Day.

The Wise Old Man

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A wealthy man requested an old scholar to wean his son away from his bad habits.  The scholar took the youth for a stroll through a garden. Stopping suddenly he asked the boy to pull out a tiny plant growing there.
The youth held the plant between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out. The old man then asked him to pull out a slightly bigger plant. The youth pulled hard and the plant came out, roots and all. “Now pull out that one,” said the old man pointing to a bush. The boy had to use all his strength to pull it out.
“Now take this one out,” said the old man, indicating a guava tree. The youth grasped the trunk and tried to pull it out. But it would not budge. “It’s impossible,” said the boy, panting with the effort.
“So it is with bad habits,” said the sage. “When they are young it is easy to pull them out but when they take hold they cannot be uprooted.”
The session with the old man changed the boy’s life.
Moral: Don’t wait for Bad Habits to grow in you, drop them while you have control over it else they will get control you.

This was submitted by Jay and it is a prime example. Of course if you subscribe to the fact that people can change some of these stories become obsolete.

Old Wives' Tales

We can all list this type of story and I find it interesting that humans from centuries ago told stories to illustrate aspects of life.
There are some that my mam (God rest her soul) told me many years ago.

'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' was one of her favourites.

True - A 2013 study showed that if the over 50s ate just one apple each day it would stave off over 8500 heart attacks and strokes every year.

Then there are the myths (or are they?) about the full moon. Do people really go bonkers when there is a full moon in the sky? Scientists have found little to support this but have linked the full moon to sleeplessness. 

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Counting sheep

Counting sheep can help you fall asleep. In fact scientist have shown that using imagination or mental imagery can assist in getting you into the land of nod.

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All very well but are these stories and moralistic messages dying out? Well I doubt it and J K Rowling obviously could see the value when she wrote the Tales of Beedle the Bard which included the essential Story of the Three Brothers, which cropped up in the Harry Potter story itself and explained the existence of the Cloak of Invisibility and more.

So there is a place for moralistic tales in all types of situations and it is an interesting way in which to introduce a new aspect to your stories.

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Have a happy mother's day.

God Bless