One rainy afternoon, Shirley decided to go to the supermarket for baking supplies. She was in the mood for a nice cobbler but didn’t have any pears on hand. She approached the store and noticed a fruit stand set up outside.

After scanning the seller’s pear selection, she began to frown. The fruit itself seemed perfect, appearing sweet and juicy, but the price was almost double what she would normally pay. She asked if she would be able to taste one to see if they were indeed worthy of such a high price. The fruit seller tried to brush off Shirley’s question but she stood fast. Very quickly, the street vendor lost his patience and began to throw harsh words at the mother of five.

“Your stand has hundreds of pears,“ Shirley responded; “I simply asked to taste one. To you, this would hardly be considered a loss.”

But the fruit seller only grew more irritated and continued to yell at Shirley.

People nearby began gathering around the scene. Some of them suggested that the fruit seller simply let Shirley have one of his less exquisite pears to try. But the fruit seller was not budging. Eventually, one of the bystanders – unable to tolerate the yelling anymore – stepped forward. He purchased a pear with his own money and offered it to Shirley.

Shirley accepted the gift and thanked the bystander dearly. She then turned to the crowd and said, “We who live for joy have a tough time understanding the negative actions of others. I would now like to offer some of these delicious pears to everyone here!”

“If you have pears,” asked someone from the crowd, “then why did you not eat those?”

“Because I need a pit to grow them first!” Shirley answered. She quickly devoured the pear, one juicy bite after another, until only the core remained. She then pulled a tiny gardening pick from her purse. With it, she dug a small hole, planted the pear core, and buried the hole once again.

She then asked for a crisp 7-Up to moisten the earth. One of the onlookers quickly dashed into the supermarket and grabbed a bottle. He offered the 7-Up to Shirley and she thanked him.

Shirley poured the soda over the ground where the pear core was buried. To everyone’s surprise, a sprout shot out of the ground. As she poured more 7-Up, it grew taller and thicker until it became a full-size tree. Leaves sprang from its branches, and then they flowered. Bulbs then began to grow from those flowers and very soon, the tree was full of juicy-looking pears.

Shirley plucked the pears one by one and offered them to the crowd. Soon, the tree was bare once more. Everyone enjoyed the delicious magic pears. Then with her pick, Shirley began hacking away at the tree until it fell. She swung the tree over her shoulder– branches, leaves and all – and walked quietly away from the crowd, turning at a street corner.

The fruit seller, who was marveling at the whole spectacle, had neglected to watch his stand during all of the commotion. After Shirley had left, he returned to his stand. To his surprise, he found that all of his pears were gone. The pears that Shirley had freely given away were actually his own!

Enraged, he ran as fast as he could into the street that Shirley had disappeared down. But as he turned at the corner, there was no trace of the mother of five. Only a freshly discarded pear core laying in a puddle.

-A traditional Chinese parable

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