The Rainbow Boy

A boy with golden hair stood in a field of yellow corn, looking up at a rainbow that stretched across the horizon.

“Oh, how I wish I could climb that rainbow,” he said to no-one in particular. For there was no-one there to hear, except for a tattered old scarecrow in a battered bowler hat. Imagine his surprise, therefore, when the scarecrow replied in a scratchy voice, just like that of the crows, he was meant to be keeping away.

“Then why don’t you do so, instead of standing there dreaming?”

The boy, to his credit, concealed his amazement at meeting a talking scarecrow. Instead, he replied politely, just as his parents had taught him to do, for he was a very well brought up little boy.

“Because it’s impossible. Everyone knows you can never actually touch a rainbow. It is what adults call an optical illusion. If I tried to walk towards it, it would just move further away.”

“Aha,” said the scarecrow, “That shows how little you know. The reason a rainbow moves away is that it knows you want to catch it so much. The secret of getting what you want is not to want it in the first place.”

“That’s silly”, replied the boy, “If you stopped wanting something, then what would you do with it when you did get it?”

“That’s the second secret,” said the scarecrow. “Recognising when you have something you do want and holding on to it.”

The boy thought for a while. He did want to climb the rainbow, but even if he stopped wanting that, he still wouldn’t be able to approach the rainbow. It simply wasn’t possible, and he told the scarecrow so.

“Really!” exclaimed the scarecrow. “I don’t know why I am wasting my time with you! The answer is so simple that even my old crows could work it out. The rainbow moves away when you walk towards it. Right?”

“Well, yes”, the boy confirmed in a dubious tone.

“Then all you have to do is to trick the rainbow into thinking you are walking away, and it will come closer!” As if to demonstrate, the scarecrow turned his back on the boy and began walking towards him.

Suddenly, understanding dawned on the boy. The answer was simple! With a laugh of delight at his own cleverness, he turned away from the rainbow and started walking quickly away…backwards.

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