A Favorite Rothian Story

An extravagantly wealthy king had twin sons. One was very pessimistic and the other unusually optimistic. The king was worried that both would suffer in the long run from these defects. He decided to apply the well-known therapy of confronting extremes.

He led his young pessimist to a large room in the palace, filled with wonderful toys from floor to ceiling. The child immediately burst into tears. “What is the matter, my son?”, exclaimed the king. “I know that these toys will all eventually break, and my sadness will be all the greater as there are so many!”, exclaimed the little prince through his tears.

Puzzled by this, the king fetched his other son, the eternal optimist, and led him to a large room in the royal stables, a room filled from floor to ceiling with manure. When the child saw this, he immediately yelled a cry of glee, ran to the pile and began to dig furiously through it with his bare hands. “My son!”, said the king, “Have you gone mad? Why are you doing this?”, to which the joyous prince replied, “Oh, father! Thank you so much! With all this horse shit, there’s sure to be a pony in there somewhere!”

-- Eric Kofoid


One Response to “A Favorite Rothian Story”

  1. David Low says:

    Thanks Eric,
    I just happened to have told this story yesterday to some folks in my lab after we hit a depressing roadblock, and relayed that I heard it first from John.

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