When Grandfather Sky made the world, he put us, Wisdom Tree, upon the land. We were the First of all living things in the world, and we were put here to observe the world, that our wisdom might grow. Wisdom begins as a seed, and grows as it is watered by time and fertilised by events. For ages, we observed the world as the days passed into weeks, the weeks passed into months, the months passed into years and the years passed into decades.
Then, Grandfather Sky made First Man and put him in the world as well. And in the beginning, First Man was like a beast of the wild. He knew not mercy, or compassion, or remorse. He knew not love, or hate. He knew not. He felt not. First Man spent his days killing and eating the beasts in the forest and the fish in the sea. First Man wandered the land, strong and free, with food his highest desire, and hunger his highest thought.
One day, First Man met Mother Earth. Mother Earth was calm and kind and beautiful, and First Man realised after they spoke that he was lonely. They sat by the lake together and spoke of all things and everything, and First Man felt his spirits lifted and comforted by the sound of Mother Earth's voice. As the hour grew late and she turned to go, First Man stopped her.
"Please, stay with me, Mother Earth." First Man said.
And so, Mother Earth, she of the nurturing spirit, stayed with First Man. Mother Earth grew grain for First Man, that he need not eat the wild fruits of the forest. Mother Earth tamed the animals for First Man, that he need not hunt. Mother Earth wove fabrics for First Man, that he need not be naked. Mother Earth slept with First Man, that he need not be lonely.
And for a long time, they were content thus.
One evening, as First Man was wandering on the edge of his lands, a dazzling light from the heavens caught his eye. It streaked down from the hand of Grandfather Sky into the untamed forest that First Man had not entered since he met Mother Earth. Curious about the nature of that dazzling light, First Man entered the forest again.
First Man followed trails he had long forgotten but that were still being trodden on by the beasts of the wild. The light shone through the trees and called to First Man, so it was not hard to find. First Man came at last to a new clearing where stood the source of the light. She was Goddess Fire, and she, too, was beautiful. However, unlike the constant, comforting beauty of Mother Earth, the beauty of Goddess Fire flickered and changed and seared the eyes of First Man and left him breathless.
Goddess Fire called to First Man, and her voice was a siren, bewildering and bewitching. First Man went to her, and they ran together, up the hills and down the valleys. Again, First Man felt the thrill of the hunt, and Goddess Fire taught him anew the joy of adventure. The breathtaking beauty of Goddess Fire utterly consumed First Man. She was passion and inspiration. She was excitement and danger. She sang, she danced, she painted, she laughed. And then, one day, when First Man was too tired to run any farther, she disappeared into the distance and was gone.
Desolate, First Man returned to the house he had built with Mother Earth. The lands were overgrown with weeds from neglect, and the animals they had tamed had all escaped. First Man's clothes had long been burnt to ashes by the consuming flame of Goddess Fire, and First Man was once again naked and alone.
We, the Wisdom Tree, observed all this.
It was then that First Man decided to approach us for wisdom, for all in the world knew that Wisdom Tree were the First of all living things.
"O, Wisdom Tree, oldest of us all, share your knowledge with me, I beg of you." First Man pleaded with us.
"Ask, and we will answer, First Man." We replied.
"Tell me, O wisest of all, why did Mother Earth leave me?"
"Mother Earth is giving and nurturing, O First Man. She is verdant and bountiful, but she needs care and attention to give of herself to you. You left her to her own devices that you may pursue Goddess Fire, and in your neglect, weeds grew upon her lands and her animals wandered off into the wild. Having nothing left to stay for, Mother Earth therefore left."
First Man hung his head in shame. Then, he asked of us yet again. "Tell me then, O First among all, why did Goddess Fire not wait for me?"
"Goddess Fire is from beyond this world, O First Man. She is spirit, and she is passion and inspiration. She knows naught of rest and stasis. She must forever consume and move or suffer herself to be extinguished. If you grow weary and cannot keep up with her, Goddess Fire cannot wait for you. You yearn for both because Grandfather Sky made your bones from Earth and your blood from Fire."
And First Man wept. We took pity on him and consoled him thus.
"Do not grieve, First Man. They will come into your life again and yet again. And all your children will share this choice that you must make. Each man or woman must choose between being nurtured, sheltered and comforted or being consumed by the transient beauty of passion. Some find degrees of both, but few will ever experience the full joy of both at the same time."
"Tell me, O Wisdom Tree, which should I choose?"
"That we may not do, First Man. Knowledge is a tool that everyone must decide how to use. We may give you choices and possible outcomes, but we may not make your choice, for that is not why we are here. This choice is one every man must make for himself, First Man."
And First Man was silent.