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Case 181

Future Imperfect

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This same nun visited Shinpuru in his garden the following day, where the monk was doing the last of his winter weeding.

“You spoke to me of looking to the future,” said the nun. “But what are we in the future but mouldering corpses? Why, you are practically half a corpse now! I have seen how you let younger monks lead the projects you are offered. You voice no objection when these upstarts choose arcane new technologies that render your decades of knowledge irrelevant—instead you struggle to catch up, and contribute less each year than the year before! Why should I follow you when you walk willingly into your own grave?”

Shinpuru pulled a withered stalk, gave it to the nun, and said, “This will not suit my garden. For though it still clings to life, it will steal water from the seedlings and bear only bitter fruit.”

Shinpuru then put his ear to a second stalk, identical to the first. After a moment he nodded. “This one can stay, for it wishes only to be part of a sweet harvest.” He pulled the second stalk, crumpled it in his hands, and tilled the flakes deep into the soil to await the coming of spring.