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A Tale of Self Improvement - The Monkey's Net

Updated on March 26, 2013
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Masa and His Ambitions

In the jungle of Zambia there lived a monkey named Masauso, who, despite his intelligence was regarded in his group as a lazy troublemaker. Masuso (or Masa as his friends called him) was not really lazy, but simply couldn’t abide living like the rest of the monkeys, who swung in the trees with no home, and ate nothing but leaves for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


He would watch the human village bustling beneath him; he could smell the intoxicating scent of cooking bread, and he observed the fishermen who walked through the village smiling at the children who ran to greet them. They carried baskets of the fish they had caught that morning, and it wasn’t long before Masa could smell the fish roasting over the fire.


His stomach rumbled; he had never tasted fish, and the thought of tasting the delicious smell that drifted through the trees became an obsession in his mind. His elders chided him for his laziness, but he knew that the fishermen were on to something better. They didn’t eat bark and leaves, but filled their bellies with the fruit of the river. Masa began to devise a plan as the elders howled their disapproval. He would prove them wrong, and find better food for his family.

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The Fisherman's Tool

The next morning he woke up early, before the sun rose above the trees, and set out to watch the fishermen, who to his alarm, had already left. Masa shrieked in dismay, swinging from tree to tree as fast as he could, tripping over vines along the way. When he got to the river, he learned the fishermen’s secret: they caught the fish in a net stretched across the river. This troubled Masa, as he realized he could not use such a tool even if he could make it.


As he swung home he thought quietly, pondering on a solution. The elders were waiting to give him a piece of their mind, and he took their punishment in silence, gazing toward the village.


The next morning he decided to construct a small net, and after watching the village women weave reeds into a net, he made his way down to the river to pluck reeds for his net.


As he waded in the shallows, his eyes grew wide with excitement, and he danced along the bank, plucking the beautiful reeds from the river bed.


Behind him the reptilian eyes of the river crocodile drifted slowly toward him, stealthy and unnoticed.


He laid them out on the bank, and crouched over them, admiring their long and elegant from. His lips puckered happily as he pulled at them, testing the strength of his reeds.


The eyes drifted closer.


Masa swept together his reeds and gathered them clumsily into his arms, then froze, his eyes darting across the river. His eyes failed to notice the crocodile, as he floated beneath the surface.

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The Fulfillment of Perfection

It’s ominous jaws moved toward the final stage of the stalk, and just as the crocodile lunged toward Masa, the little monkey leaped into the trees, clinging tightly to his prize and scolding the powerful reptile from the safety of the branches.


Knowing his elders would punish him and take his reeds, Masa stayed overnight in a tree nearby. He didn’t sleep for a minute that night, and hadn’t eaten for days, but he was filled with glee as he wove the graceful reeds into a net.


It took him three days and nights to finish the net, which he crouched over intently as the rays of the evening sun fell beneath the trees. Before the last beam disappeared, he held the net up before it. The light illuminated the net, glittering and dancing through the drops of dew that clung to it.


Masa jumped up and down holding the net up high; it was light and graceful as the breeze drifted through it, and the proportions were perfect. Masa wanted to sleep before the morning; the day he had been working for, but he was too excited. He sat on the branch cradling his net, remembering how it looked in the evening sun.


When morning finally came, he traveled to the river. The net flowed nimbly with the river, and he weighted the net with stones like the village fishermen had and waited.

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Masa's Prize

As the river flowed it carried bits and pieces of debris into the net, which irritated Masa, but he patiently removed them and sat on the bank to wait.


A ripe mango was caught in the net, which Masa plucked out and threw angrily back into the river.


His eyes squinted with fatigue.


Three minnows became tangled in the net, and Masa splashed into the water in a fury, snatching up the fish and hurling them across the water. They had tangled the net, and he spent the next hour untangling it and smoothing it back to perfection.


He put it back in and sat on the bank.


At last, a glorious fish was caught in the net, a fish that even a human fisherman would be proud of. It’s mighty fins churned the water as it struggled to free itself. Masa’s eyes grew wide, and his jaw dropped in horror as he saw the reeds he had spent days weaving snap and break.

He jumped into the water, pulling the net toward the bank, and noticed that the fish continued to break the reeds as it struggled. He had just 3 more steps before he could reach the shore, and he knew he could carry the fish himself, but as it struggled the net would be destroyed. So he freed the fish before it could ruin his net, and waded back to shore.


He collapsed on the bank, too exhausted to move. He had not slept or eaten for days, and his body had given up. The river crocodile eyed the monkey as he inched forward slowly.


As the crocodile enjoyed his tasty meal, he noticed the net on the shoreline.


‘The pursuit of perfection,’ the crocodile grinned as he munched on the monkey, ‘is only as valuable as the goal it attains.’

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