Shearing Sheep


I once read a book about a Shepherd named Solomon who sheared sheep to produce wool, which he used to build a modest dwelling in Brazil’s remote countryside. There he lived happily with his three sheep, occasionally adding fixtures as the sheep’s coats grew back. One day, a wandering traveler stumbled upon Solomon’s small wool house and marveled at the uniqueness of his construction, asserting that the quaint edifice was “the eighth wonder of the world” and promising to speak of it following his return to the city. At this unexpected praise, Solomon gratefully embraced his sheep, crying tears of joy. Aware of the inevitability of future travelers, he began breeding his sheep to expand his dominion. As his wool sanctuary grew higher in the sky, people from all corners of the world traveled to witness his innovative architectural feat. Solomon continued to build, taking measures to optimize efficiency; shearing as much wool as he could from every sheep he owned. The effect on the sheep was immediate; their numbers exploded at an unparalleled rate. Eventually, they crowded the pasture. Grass became scarce and many sheep began to die, causing Solomon great angst. Visitors grew alarmed at this.

Fearing the visitors would begin to disappear, Solomon pushed forward and, while his cold, naked sheep starved, his empire eventually towered above the broad hills and great trees of the country. Then a season of drought came and Brazil experienced its hottest summer on record. What was already scarce on Solomon’s busy pasture became non-existent altogether. Hundreds of sheep died. The ground before Solomon’s palace became a cemetery of sheep. In turn, visitors turned away in disgust. Solomon continued building, despite no rain. As sheep continued dying and visitor attendance declined, the blazing sun lit a kindle atop Solomon’s temple. A great fire struck as Solomon made trivial attempts at recovery. With sheep too weak to flee, they were left to burn in the fire. Solomon wept in horror as a massive fire swallowed his pride. Visitors ceased altogether and commercial attempts at replication spread to all corners of the world. Without a house or sheep to accompany him, Solomon died alone, cold, anguished.

. . .