The Old Man's River Crossing
"One can fail at a task but still learn the lesson”
“Have you ever heard the story of the old man's river crossing?"
"I do not recall it."
"At the bank of a wide river on this world, long before it was as it is today, an old man sat by the water, meditating. A second, younger man came along and saw the older one. “What are you doing?” the younger man inquired.
"I am working on the ability to walk on water, so that I may cross the river,” the older man said.
"Ah. And how is it going?”
"Pretty well. I have been at it for forty years, and in another five or ten I believe I will have it.”
"'Ah,” said the younger man. "Well, good luck to you.”
"He bowed, then walked to a boat tied up nearby, climbed in, cast off, and rowed across the river."
Master Unduli looked at her. "Do you understand the meaning of this story?"
Barriss thought about it for a moment. "If the important thing was crossing the river, then the younger man was wiser than the older one."
"Precisely.” Why spend decades learning how to walk on water when there is a boat moored right next to you?" The Jedi paused, then asked, "What was most vital in this exercise with which I tasked you?"
"How many pastries were in the bakery window."
Barriss felt incredibly stupid as she suddenly understood what her Master meant.
Master Unduli smiled. "I see you comprehend at last."
"I could have simply stood up and looked over the wall," Barriss said. "What was important was not how I got the information-only that I got it."
Master Unduli nodded. "There is hope for you yet, my young Padawan..."
This is a little story I whipped up from Medstar I: Battle Surgeons. Personally, I think it contributes well to the story and made it sound more interesting, so I thought I'd put it up. It also hints that there are other Jedi tales that are passed down from generation to generation, just like we heard "Little Red Riding Hood" or "Cinderella" from our parents and will most likely pass it on to our children someday.
This is not the only "story within story" in the Medstar series, but this is one of the ones I like the most there. There is also one about the path to the water, which I might post later on. All these stories are from Barriss Offee's flashbacks to her time with her master, as you can see from their dialogue above. That was probably before the Clone Wars, when things are mostly peaceful and Jedi work only as peacekeepers...
The moral of the story is also a good rule to live by. This one shows that there are shortcuts in life, and we could know what they are and how it would help us. The short story here in Medstar is memorable enough for me to serve as a reminder to look for shortcuts at a time in need. Who knows what the future may bring.
May the Force be with you.