An ancient Arabic story tells about a scholar who was growing old. He was very worried that his knowledge would be lost after his death. To prevent this from happening,he put all the things he knew inside a clay jug and sealed it. Then, he decided he would climb the biggest and tallest palm tree in the village and place the jug there for safe keeping. He tied it to his chest and started to climb. However, the task was more difficult than he thought. The clay jug kept knocking against the tree. The old scholar had to climb very slowly, frightened that it would break.
One of the scholar’s pupils, a little girl, was beneath the tree, watching him as he climbed. Suddenly, she shouted:
“Why did not you tie the jug to your back?”
When hearing her, the old scholar stopped and exclaimed:
“I was totally mistaken! I thought I knew it all, and still this little girl can give me lessons. Knowledge must not be locked away in a jug. If I do not want it to be lost, my knowledge must be shared. It must be debated. It must be questioned.”
Then, the old man untied the jug and let it fall down.It smashed against the floor in a thousand pieces. The wind spread the old scholar’s knowledge around the world. Part of it stayed with the little girl, who later became a scholar in her own right and passed her knowledge to her descendants, who still remember the old man’s teachings today.
This blog post is dedicated to my best friend, who has just qualified as a nurse in her late thirties. Like the little girl, she was always curious about learning. Like the old man, she understood you are never too old to learn.