There was once a farmer who had a very, very lazy daughter.
Whenever he sent her to feed the chickens, he would find her daydreaming while the chickens went hungry.
Whenever he asked her to hoe the crops, he would find her laying in the field watching the clouds drift by.
Whenever he asked, “What am I going to do with you?” She would just shrug her shoulders and wander off.
Finally, he had enough.
He sat her down and asked, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to snap my fingers and make something happen.”
“That sounds like magic,” he said.
“It is, and it is what I want to do.”
“Making magic takes a lot of hard work,” he warned her.
“No, it doesn’t,” she said, “that’s why they call it magic.”
The farmer tugged on his beard. It is what he did when he thought deeply about things.
“The only magic I have ever seen was at a circus. Do you want to join the circus?”
“Sure,” she said, “if I can just snap my fingers and see magic, that is what I want.”
So in time, the circus came to town and the farmer brought his daughter for a job interview.
“What are your skills?” the circus manager wanted to know.
“Daydreaming and goofing off,” the father said, for he was an honest man.
“We have too many people like that as it is,” the manager replied.
“But I want to learn to make magic,” the girl said.
“How bad?” the manager asked.
“More than anything,” she said.
“Would you work a year for it?”
“I certainly would.”
“No daydreaming or goofing off?”
“As long as there is magic making at the end of the year…”
“Okay,” the manager said, “since you are a farm girl, find a pitch-fork and report to the elephant stalls.”
So she did and as unpleasant as the job was, she resolved to apply herself to it if there was magic to be had.
It was not easy for her because while elephants appreciate a tidy stall just as much as the next animal, they are big and have a mind of their own.
“Lift your foot,” she told the first one she encountered.
His reply was to swat her with his tail.
She tried the next one.
This one complied, but left a little something in its wake.
And on and on it went.
“Go over there.”
“Really? Did you have to do that?”
This went on for a year, but as hard it was, she adapted to the rhythm of circus life.
They moved constantly, sometimes every other day and everyone was expected to pitch in. Everyone helped put the tents up and take them down. Everyone packed and unpacked.
Everyone did the big things and the little things and when they were not doing those things, they practiced and practiced and practiced their skills.
Finally after a year, the manager came to the elephant stalls where the girl was working.
“I had my doubts because your father told me you were lazy, but you have done well. It is time for you to make magic.”
“When do I start?” she asked.
“You started a year ago.”
“Magic is nothing more than the veil that hides hard work and you have been working hard for a year. Now it is time to enjoy the magic that you have made.”
“What do I do?”
“You have learned to move elephants around, so tonight you will do just that. After you lead the elephants into the tent, you will circle them around the main ring three time and lead them out.”
“And the magic part?”
“You will see.”
So she did. She dressed in a flowing red gown and piled her long hair on top of her head and led the elephants into the tent.
On the first lap, the crowd who had never seen an elephant before, cried, “Ooooooooh.”
She got a kick out of that, so on the second lap, she though she would try a little trick.
She barked an order, “Lift your front feet.”
The elephants, who were by now her best friends, trumped loudly and reared up on their haunches.
The crowd exclaimed, “Aaaaaah”
And on the final lap, she coaxed the elephants into dancing sideways.
The crowd had never seen such a thing. They clapped and cheered with delight.
Unwittingly over the year, she had become an elephant trainer, and it made her feel better than she had ever felt before – yet another emotion arose within her. Disappointment.
“Where is the magic I was promised?” she asked the manager.
“Snap your fingers,” he told her.
“Now turn around,” he said.
As she turned and looked back through the dark into the bright lights of the circus ring, she saw the crowd.
They were on their feet, clapping, cheering and craning their necks to see the last of the retreating elephants.
She had spent a year watching circus crowds and thought nothing of it, because for her it was nothing but hard work.
Now, for the first time, she realized what wonder and joy a night of entertainment meant to people whose lives were spent feeding chickens, hoeing weeds and worry about the weather.
“Look at their faces,” the manager told her.
“I wish you could see yours,” he said. “what you would see is pure magic.”