And he took my crooked little flower and held it between his hands. “I thank thee, my son,” he said. It was the first time he’d ever called me that. “And this flower shall be they first lesson. I would have thee examine it most carefully and tell me all that thou canst perceive of it. This flower is now thy task.”
And that task took me twenty years, as I recall. Each time I came to my Master with the flower that never wilted nor faded–how I grew to hate that flower!–and told him what I’d learned, he would say, “Is that all, my son?” And, crushed, I’d go back to my study of that silly little flower.
In time my distaste for it grew less. The more I studied it, the better I came to know it, and I eventually grew fond of it.
Then one day my Master suggested that I might learn more about it if I burned it and studied its ashes. I refused indignantly.
“And why not, my son?” he asked me.
“Because it is dear to me, Master,” I said in a tone probably more firm than I’d intended.
“Dear?” he asked.
“I love the flower, Master! I will not destroy it!”