Master and Commander: The Far Side Calendar Edition

“Grasshopper, what lesson have I taught you today?”

“That biting my fingernails is a sign.”

“And…?”

“That biting my toenails is also a sign, a sign of flexibility, but one need not always be flexible.”

“Very good.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“You are welcome.  It is time we look at broader subjects.  Have you ever heard me talk about our enemies?”

“No, Master.  You have told me one must never have enemies, only opportunities to learn from those whose beliefs complement one’s own.”

“Very good, Grasshopper.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Remember, little one, I have told you many times to call me Mister.”

“Yes, Master Mister.”

“[Sigh.]  Very well.  I will not reinforce your habit of mastering your subjects, including me.  Let us proceed.”

“Yes, Mister Master Mister, Master.”

“As you recall from a previous lesson, we observed two people in opposition.  What did I tell you?”

“That one should adopt the best traits and best people, allowing others to demonise the remaining traits and remaining people so that one may concentrate on pure joy, happiness, and meditation of best-ness.”

“Indeed.  Grasshopper, you do well today.  But do not bite your toenails.  We are not animals.”

“But, Master, you bite your toenails.”

“Only after I have cut them from my toes do I use my toenails as ‘toothpicks’ when wood is unavailable to remove rice hulls from between my teeth.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Remember, one must be resourceful yet maintain one’s harmony with one’s true sense of self.”

“Yes, Master Mister Master Mister, Mister.”

“What else did you learn from that lesson?”

“By observing how one’s colleagues make enemies out of other people do we learn their true nature.”

“And…?”

“That pizza is a delicious late-night snack when meditating upon 24-hour sports network viewing.”

“Where did you get such an idea, Grasshopper?”

“From you, Master, Mister, Master.  You, yourself, have said your round belly of wisdom should be called the Pizza Palace of Peace.”

“You pay attention to too much of my humorous asides, Grasshopper.  Telling and understanding jokes is the deepest of wisdoms one attains through years of listening to others’ foolish behaviour.  One must not confuse wisecracks from wise observations.”

“Master, I do not understand, Mister.  Are they not both kernels of wisdom?”

“Very wise of you to say that, Grasshopper…”

“Do you not use my name, ‘Grasshopper,’ as both a serious reference to my body and as a joking reference to my impermanence, in addition to my insignificance as an insect in comparison to my body?”

“Yes, Grasshopper.  We have discussed this many times in your decades of training.  At 50 years of age, you are well past the time in one’s life when one should leave this training center and pursue one’s destiny.  So your name is both a reverent label and an irreverent joke about you overstaying your education.”

“But, Master.  You have never left these walls.  Are we not both trapping ourselves within imaginary walls around our true destiny?”

“Grasshopper, your wisdom is beyond your years and yet beneath you.  One must never say more than one feels.”

“But what does one feel about walls?  I have no emotional ties to the kiln-dried bricks and mortar.”

“Grasshopper, let us put off that lesson until tomorrow.  I am feeling tired and very, very old.”

“But, Master, you, Master Mister, are only five years old.  How can a Mister Master like you feel old?  This is the time when Masters like you usually feel playful.”

“Grasshopper, you know that wisdom is not measured in years.  Look at the golfers who play in the Masters.  Some master their skills at an early age and some do not find the master to hone their skills for them until they are much older.”

“Yes, Master.  We both need our rest.”

“Indeed.  And please, please, please, call me Mister, not Master, not Master Mister or Mister Master, or Master Mister Master, or Mister Master Mister, or…”

“But, Master, it is my joke I play on you.  Can you not see that?”

“Yes, Grasshopper. But like the lesson where we keep the best traits of our perceived enemies for ourselves, let us give the worst jokes or the jokes that have grown old to our perceived enemies, too.”

“Yes, Mast…err, I mean, Mister.”

“Thank you, Grasshopper.  You may return to your eight-hour duty of raking the autumn leaves that fall upon our gravel path.”

“The leaves never stop falling this time of year.”

“Yes.  A lesson you have taught yourself over and over for how long now?”

“Forty-eight years, Mister.”

“That’s right.  I forgot you were a late bloomer, two years old when you were brought here.”

“Yes, Mister.  That’s why I have not left.  My previous Master told me that blooming late is my specialty.”

“A wise Mister Master, indeed!”