Writing

Origami: We are all Folded – by Sunny Yin

A long time ago, twins were born to a family of craftsmen. Stars twinkled above them as each was blessed with an unknown gift. As they grew, their family and relatives wondered what the gift was. Titanic strength? Unparalleled intelligence? Or perhaps great fortune?

One day, a travelling origami artist visited the village. With her dextrous hands she crafted various toys for the children. When it was the twins’ turn she stopped, looked deep into their eyes, and said:

“You have the gift. Come with me, and I’ll teach you how to use it.”

But the parents could not simply give their children away. The origami artist nodded sadly, and without warning, a great gale blew through the village. When it subsided the origami artist had gone, and in her place were two square sheets of paper. Each twin picked one, and treasured it as they grew up.

The year the twins became of age was one of odd harvest. The ground became as hard as iron, and seeds could not be planted. The village despaired until the older of the twins stepped forward with a paper plough that loosened the stony earth. That year, the village was blessed with bounty while neighbouring towns were struck with famine.

Convinced that evil forces were at work, a crazed mob arrived at the village with weapons. Not wishing for slaughter, the village convinced the mob to bring out their best swordsman for a duel. The younger twin stepped forward with a paper blade, and cut down the opponent where he stood. The mob dispersed in fear, but the village head had a soft heart, and shared the harvest. However, the stain of bloodshed remained with the youth and the paper sword that cut through iron. The villagers avoided him, looked at him with anxious eyes, and little by little, distrust grew within his heart.

Years passed, and the twins both left town to embark on their own paths. One went east, and the other west. The older became a hero wherever he went. With his sturdy paper he strengthened shaky bridges on the edge of collapse. Made wondrous tools for other craftsmen. Constructed barricades that saved entire towns from flood. The younger was despised throughout his journey. With his sharp paper he helped tyrants make instruments of torture. Generals sought after his skills for their mighty armies. Lust for his paper weapons sparked conflicts between entire countries.

One day, both twins returned home, but found the village deserted. The houses they once knew were charred and razed, and the once plentiful fields now full of rot. The younger twin turned and walked away, never to be seen again. He died a lonesome death in the frigid north, where bounty hunters dared not pursue him. The older twin also left, but returned with friends he had helped before. Together they rebuilt the town to the splendour it once knew, and the twin died with loved ones at his sides.

We, our lives, are all but paper. Paper to write on, paper to fold with. Paper to make something out of. Our lives can be one or the other, or many more in between. From the blank, square, unspoiled sheet of infancy, we are all folded. Mountain folded, valley folded, sometimes reverse folded. And after wading through fold after fold; one challenge, one action, and one experience at a time, the origami of our lives begin to take form. But what will it be? A sword? Or a plough? Whatever it is, fold it with care, because we all have but one sheet to do it with.

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