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Robert the Rabbit and The Meaning of Life
One fine morning, in a gully down past the old birch road, a young rabbit awoke to the merry chirping of some neighboring finches in a tree above his sleeping hole. The soft pitter patter of last night’s rainwater was dripping down upon him from the cracks in the ceiling above as he rolled over onto his back and slowly sat up. He stretched and yawned a deep sigh as he rose from his warm, cuddly straw bed.
“Good morning, Finches!” the rabbit called up to the colorful birds.
“Good morning, Robert!” they hollered back, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“It sure is,” Robert responded, “Would you like to go and play in Old Man Tucker’s orchard later?” The silly rabbit was always getting into all sorts of mischief.
“We’re sorry, but we have to go to school today. We’re learning about the meaning of life,” the finches replied.
“Oh, that’s OK,” said Robert the Rabbit. He would just have to go and look for another friend to play with today.
As Robert was walking along the shadowy winding path out to the fields, he soon found himself lost in thought. What did the finches mean by the “meaning of life”? What is the meaning of life? It was such a peculiar question! Robert didn’t even know there was a meaning of life.
“Hey, Robert!” called a cheerful hidden voice from behind a thicket.
“Who is that?” cried the startled rabbit.
“It’s me!” answered Benny the Badger.
“Oh, Benny. You scared me!” laughed Robert.
“What are you up to today?” Benny asked.
“Well, I was going to go to Old Man Tucker’s orchard and have a good time, but now I’m too confused to play.”
“Oh well that’s no big deal. I’ll help you. What’s on your mind?” offered the jolly badger.
Robert was excited. Maybe Benny would know the meaning of life!
“What’s the meaning of life?” he asked?
“That’s easy!” said Benny.
“It is?” Robert felt foolish for asking such a simple question.
“Sure! We are all here to have fun and play games with one another!” responded Benny.
“Oh! Thanks, Benny!” said Robert, “If you’ll excuse me, I have to be going back home now to finish cleaning the pantry.”
As Robert the Rabbit was walking back towards the bramble of bushes surrounding his nook, he got to thinking about Benny’s answer. Robert wasn’t so sure that he felt like Benny was right about the meaning of life. If everyone was here just to play games, then nothing would ever get done! He sighed a deep, sad sigh. This was going to be harder than he had originally thought. However, just then Alfred the Ant came strolling across the path.
“Top of the morning, Robert!” Alfred called up to his furry friend.
“Hey Alfred,” said Robert glumly.
“Why the long face, pal?” inquired the ant.
“Alfred, what’s the meaning of life? Why are we all here?” asked Robert.
“Golly, that’s a mighty sophisticated question coming from such a young bunny like you. I think that we are all here to work hard for ourselves, our families, and our children. We are here to make our world a better place for tomorrow; to prepare ourselves for the future.” responded Alfred. “Does that help?”
“I think so,” said Robert.
“Great. Well, I’m off to the agency, I’ve got a major deal with a couple of centipedes that we’re passing today. See you around!”
As the ant made his way on by, Robert continued his way down the dusty old road back to his home. What the ant had said made sense, but he still felt like something was missing. He noticed a spider dangling from her web off of a branch of a tree on the side of the path. Maybe she would know the meaning of life!
“Excuse me, Miss Spider?” Robert cried up to her.
“Yes dear?” the sweet grandmotherly spider responded.
“Hi. My name’s Robert. Do you know the meaning of life?”
“Well hello, Robert. I’m Samantha. The meaning of life? What do you mean by that, sweetheart?” the spider replied.
“Why are we all here?” Robert asked.
“Oh, you silly little gumdrop.” chucked Samantha, “We are all here to preserve and protect our beautiful planet. We are here to take care of the environment, to take care of each other, and to take care of ourselves.”
“Well, I guess that’s a good answer,” said Robert.
“I’m glad, my child,” spoke the spider, “please accept my apologies, for I must cut this conversation short. I have to go and finish cleaning up the trash that’s been caught in my web.”
“OK, thank you very much for your help,” said Robert.
“Anytime, little one,” said Samantha the Spider, “anytime.”
When Robert the Rabbit left Samantha the Spider, he decided to change directions and head for the clover fields beyond the forest. As he was meandering along the countryside, he noticed a figure nestled in the underbrush along the side of the trail. As the curious little rabbit inched closer, he could see that it was his father’s old friend Timothy the Turtle.
“Timothy, what are you doing under there?” asked Robert.
“Oh ho ho, well hello there, Robert,” said the turtle in a deep, wise voice, “I did not see you coming.”
“I’m sorry if I startled you, sir,” Robert offered.
“Oh, don’t be sorry, for it was only an accident.” said Timothy.
As the turtle closed his eyes again, Robert considered asking him the question that had been locked in his mind all day. He decided that he might as well, for he should get all the advice he could.
“Mr. Turtle, why are we all here? What is the meaning of life?” asked Robert.
“Well my young pupil,” began the old turtle, “for me, the reasons for being alive are to relax, to take life slow and steady, and to wonder. If we do all of these things, then we can become more complete animals. We can gain knowledge and understanding, and we can satisfy our thirst for wisdom. That is why I think we are all here.”
“Well what are we supposed to wonder about?” asked the naive rabbit.
“Whatever your mind decides to ponder.” said Timothy, “You can wonder about the earth. You can ask yourself things like, ‘How did it get started?’ or, ‘What are we all made of?’. You can wonder about the stars in the sky, or the grass in the ground. You can think about what kind of a person you are, or who you would like to become. The possibilities are absolutely endless.”
“In fact, that was exactly what I was doing before you woke me from my trance. I was imagining that I was aboard a gigantic ship traveling to a deserted island, and I was pretending that I was going to be building a new civilization there, starting up a whole city from scratch.”
“But Mr. Turtle,” said Robert, “isn’t that sort of childish, to be daydreaming?”
The old fellow laughed. “Of course not, Robert! Why, our imagination is the greatest tool we posses! It allows us to create and invent. Many of the world’s smartest creatures spend all of their time dreaming up new and fantastic ideas and machines to make the world a better place to live in.”
That was an interesting answer. Robert decided then and there that he would always be a dreamer. How great would it be to think about places and adventures even when you’re an adult!
“Thank you, Mr. Turtle,” said Robert, “you’ve been a big help.”
“You’re welcome, Robert,” said Timothy, “and say ‘hello’ to your father for me.”
“I’ll do that, sir. Have a nice day!” called out Robert as he hopped back towards his home.
Timothy the Turtle had definitely given Robert a good answer, but still Robert wasn’t completely satisfied. While it would be nice to live your life wondering about the world, it just didn’t seem like it would be complete. There had to be more to the meaning of life than being alone and asleep for the majority of it. As he turned the corner back to his hollowed out den, he noticed his mother back from the garden preparing his dinner by the counter.
“Mama, Mama!” Robert yelled as he ran towards his mom.
“Well, I’m happy to see you too darling.” said Robert’s mother, “Where have you been, sweetie? Your ears are filthy!”
“Oh Mama, I was just on a walk, there’s no need to worry” said the silly little rabbit.
“Well where did you go? What did you do on this walk?” asked his mother.
“I was asking people about the meaning of life,” answered Robert.
“What an interesting topic.” said the older rabbit, “What did you learn?”
“Well, Benny the Badger thought that the reason we are all here is to play games and have fun. Alfred the Ant thought that the meaning of life was to work hard and prepare for the future. Samantha the Spider thought that we should take care of the world and the creatures living on it. And Timothy the Turtle thought that we should think and wonder about ourselves and the world around us. What do you think?” asked Robert.
“Hmm,” said his mother, “well, those are all good answers, but I don’t think there is only one reason for why we are here on this beautiful planet. There is a time for fun and games, but there is also a time to work hard and get things done. We need to take care of the ones around us and not pollute Mother Nature, yet we also need to grow and evolve as animals. We need to spend time with our friends and family, but we also need to spend some time by ourselves to think, rest, and heal. If we only did one or two of these things and never had a balance, our lives would be incomplete. So you see, my child, there are many different meanings of life, and each one is just as important as the next. Even though it might be easier to spend all your time running through the meadow or playing in Old Man Tucker’s orchard, it is essential that you understand the many aspects of living a full and responsible life. Does that make sense, little one?”
“I think I get it!” exclaimed Robert the Rabbit, “There isn’t just one meaning of life, there are several. And if I want to have a fulfilling, happy life, I have to recognize and accomplish all of the meanings of life.”
“Exactly, my dear,” laughed his mother, “I am so proud of you. There aren’t many animals who understand the reasons that we are here on Earth. You accomplished something very meaningful today, and I love you very much.”
Late that night, as Robert the Rabbit closed his eyes, he thought to himself about the things he had learned that day. He thought about what Benny the Badger said about fun and games, he thought about Alfred the Ant and what he said about working hard, he thought about Samantha the Spider and caring for the environment, and he thought about Timothy the Turtle and what he had said about imagination. Robert had learned a lot that day, and he felt satisfied knowing what he knew. Just before he drifted off to sleep, Robert the Rabbit made a pact that he would always do as best he could to live life as fully and completely as possible.