The Three Fates' Project


High on windy Mount Olympus, the three Fates sat gathered around a fire in their ancient cave, discussing the dire state of humanity. Despite their careful ways of planning for the progress of the world, nothing ever worked out quite as intended: mortals never behaved quite the way the Fates expected them to; alas, most men simply laugh at the Fates, truth be told. Still, the Fates have a job to do and little else to occupy their eternal existence, so they keep watching and pondering man's affairs from a comfortable distance.

Now, the legend of the Fates says that they had one eye between them: they do, but that's not the whole truth, since they have eyes like humans do - but the Fates' one shared eye is extraordinary. Stories often get garbled over generations of verbal tradition, as in this case. The Fates are no blinder than you or I, but without their one unique eye they have no particular advantage over mere mortals, except immortality.

On this day, the Fates were discussing the progress of a human endeavor known as the "Free State Project," (or the FSP, for short) and quite enthralled with the possibilities it presented. The Fates took turns with their special eye, and each in turn spoke of various possibilities she saw. The first said, "New Hampshire has advantages," and she reflected at length on the alternatives; then passed the eye along to the next sister, who proposed to steer the FSP to Wyoming, along with her reasons. The third sister felt that Montana was the ideal location, and with the eye, described her own picture of the best outcome the project provided.

Sisters will be sisters; soon the three sisters were debating the matter passionately (and alas, none too quietly). Nearby, a Cyclops had settled down for a nap beneath a tree on his way home to D.C. (District of Cyclops, that is) and he was not pleased at awakening to the sound of their bickering. In fact, he was downright grumpy: he followed his ears to the source of the noise. The three Fates, absorbed in their heated dispute, were surprised when the Cyclops stormed in: he grabbed the eye as they passed it, and hurled it into the fire. Roaring fearsomely, he ran in circles around the fire, wildly swinging his club; the shocked sisters all dove for cover. (Fortunately each escaped serious injury; the Cyclops couldn't see in the cave away from the firelight, and he's not notoriously bright anyway.)

When the grumpy Cyclops had his fill of running in circles (and that took a terribly long time) he left, presumably to resume his nap where the Fates wouldn't disturb him again. The Fates reassembled, lamenting and wailing for the lost eye; their sisterhood was too strong to permit enmity and their grief too deeply felt to appreciate sisterhood under the circumstances, so they wept together, and swatted curses at each other at the same time: a heartbreaking scene, the misfortune of the Fates… they sounded more like the Furies.

"All lost, and nothing gained," one of the Fates cried. "We are blind," said the next. "We would each give one of our own eyes in return for the precious one we've lost, wouldn't we?" sobbed the third. The three sisters huddled together, embracing; the destruction of their treasured possession meant a tremendous loss to each of them. As the sobbing grew quieter, a small voice hesitantly interrupted the Fates as they wept.

"Sisters…" the voice trembled: "Please listen to me."

"Who speaks?" asked the eldest of the Fates. "Where are you? I don't see you."

"I am a wood nymph who lives in the big tree over yonder;" the voice answered. "The Cyclops fell asleep at our feet, and he awoke with a wrath that set our branches tingling; the same noise that awakened him roused me, and I followed him here out of curiosity: I'm glad I did. When the Cyclops threw your eye into the fire, I dashed in and caught it: I'll give it back, but I'd like to know why it's so important to you before I do. You can see me when I want you to." With that, the wood nymph appeared and extended a tiny hand, cradling the eye. The Fates all began to laugh: at first reluctantly, and then heartily.

The eldest spoke again. "You wish to know what that eye means to us, do you?"

"Yes, Ma'am!" the nymph replied… "It looks like a useless, disembodied eye to me, and you each have two eyes in your heads already: why is this one so precious?"

The youngest Fate spoke this time. "Wood nymph, that eye means everything to us; we share it so that we can each see each other's point of view. We can each see through our own eyes; that singular eye allows each of us to see through our sister's eyes. Without it, we can't see beyond our own noses; we might as well be humans. Whichever one of us has the eye, the others can see as she does. That eye means freedom to us, because for us seeing alone is a form of imprisonment, and seeing together is a form of liberation. Else, we'd become trapped in our own perspectives and have only disagreements for eternity." (In unison, the three Fates shuddered at the prospect of the narrowly averted catastrophe.)

Now the middle aged Fate spoke, and said: "Mortals see through lonely eyes, and call that individualism; or they can see through a collective eye and call that socialism. We Fates know how priceless it is to have individual eyes and voluntarily peer through social eyes - each other's eyes - at the same time."

"As I share perceptions with my beloved tree," the wood nymph nodded, sagely: "Yes, I suppose I understand…"

The eldest Fate stepped forward, and thanked the wood nymph. "This eye," she said, as she took it reverently, "Represents our sisterhood, as well as our freedom. If we were not willing to share it, and pass it around between us, it would be a useless eye indeed: if one of us kept it, she would be robbing herself just as much as the others, since it would serve no true purpose. This gift of freedom belongs to us as sisters, or none of us have it. I'm eternally grateful to you for saving it from the fire; can I do anything for you in return?"

The wood nymph replied, "Yes, Ma'am, please: do you have any burn medicine?"


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