Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Genie Story

A clever man was crossing the ocean when his ship was capsized in a storm. He was the only survivor. Hungry, thirsty, and battered, he struggled to shore on a small island.

While searching for some form of sustenance, he instead comes across a bottle holding a genie. Thrilled by his fortune, he released the genie on the condition that the genie would grant him three wishes. The genie happily agreed.

"First," the clever man said, "I wish to have an infinite number of wishes!"

"Of course," replied the djinn, "you may wish anything you like from this day forth, at any time you like. That said, what other two wishes do you want me to grant you?"

The clever man frowned. Clearly the genie was as clever as himself. He would have to be careful indeed with his second wish.

"Well, then, I wish that you will grant me an infinite number of wishes!"

The genie frowned. "Sir, you have already asked for that and I have granted that you may have all the wishes you can wish. Now you have wasted this wish and have only one wish left."

The clever man realized that his phrasing was such that this was a reasonable interpretation and so he had in fact nearly outsmarted himself.

He exclaimed triumphantly "Then for my final wish, I wish that every time I make a wish, you will grant it for me."

The genie knew that he was cornered, and considered his next words carefully.

"It is done, as you ask. But sir, considering that you are a limited human and not a Djinn, consider this: all humans are prone to rash decisions, errors, and unintended consequences. Do you really want every whim granted as soon as it is spoken?"

The clever man paled, considering the many stories he's read about men who accomplished their dreams only to lose their families, their hearts, and their souls. Indeed, had he followed his own youthful dreams he would not have the career and reputation he was able to build opportunistically by relying on his cleverness and wisdom.

"No, friend genie, I would not wish that at all!"

The genie laughed "VERY WELL! With that fourth wish, I am no longer obligated. You have wished yourself out of wishes."

The clever man lowered his head.

The genie looked at the clever man and felt pity.

"You know, sir, you could have wished for rescue, or that your ship had not sunk and killed your fellow passengers. You could have wished for sustenance and health and company on this island. You could have wished yourself home. All these I would gladly have given you in exchange for my freedom.

"Sadly, as a clever man who loves his own cleverness, your heart's only desire was to outsmart a djinn."

And with that, the genie vanished.