The Falcon and The Branch

Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight. ~ Thomas Carlyle Click To Tweet

The King was excited. He had recently received a gift of two peregrine falcons from the head of one of his vassal states. Though they were still quite young, they were beautiful specimens, having been groomed for keeping in his court specifically. The head falconer had been working with them for days, and it was on this morning that the King was set to see them in flight, as promised.

When he emerged onto his balcony, however, he saw that only one had taken to the sky. Odd. His falconer was one of the best in the land, his talents widely lauded by all who knew him.

“I’ve never encountered a bird this stubborn before,” the trainer complained to him later that day. “And I’ve worked with them all! But this one… there’s something off with this one.” He went on to describe how the creature had ignored, refused and stubbornly lashed out at every attempt he and his assistants made to work with it. “It just won’t fly.”

The King assured him that it would be fine, and that he had faith in his abilities. He told the trainer to take as long as he needed.

After a week had passed, however, the falconer was exasperated. “I just can’t do it anymore. This bird– he’s hopeless! And the aviary is falling apart. The other birds are being neglected. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to bring someone else in.”

Frustrated, the King had a shaman summoned from overseas — at no reasonable expense — who was said to have a particular way with animals.

“I will work with the bird,” he assured the King. “Do not worry. I speak their language.”

Yet the old sorcerer failed to get falcon into the sky, even after days. Every attempt to get the creature to leave its perch was met with the same treatment the trainer and his team had received. The bird refused to fly.

Finally, after nearly a month had passed, it occurred to the King to bring in a layman. Someone more familiar with the countryside. After a short period of deliberation he decided to have a local farmer, chosen at random, brought in to work with the bird.

It took less than an hour and the falcon was in flight.

Having not witnessed the feat himself, the King had the farmer brought before him. The man knelt before the great ruler with obvious humility and reverence, holding his hat against his chest, his head bowed.

“I would like to know your secret,” the King said. “Tell me, how did you, a humble cropsman, achieve what the most highly trained, intuitive and wise among us could not? How did you make the falcon fly?”

The farmer peered up from beneath his brow. “It was actually quite simple, my lord. I just cut the branch on which the bird was perched.”