Python's Song

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In a dense forest on the outside of a city, a tawny python had just turned into a yaoguai, or “supernatural spirit”. He had not learned enough magic yet, so he was just a weak yaoguai and certainly could not transform into a human form.
However, since he was a yaoguai now, he had gained some talent, and each yaoguai’s talent was different. For this python, his talent was being able to recognize beauty in ordinary little things. He had used to slither around in the grass without paying any attention to the surrounding environment. Neither had he stopped to admire for a blooming camellia flower, nor had he been moved by the misty color of the moon after rain. He had simply followed his instinct, drinking from the mountain spring when feeling thirsty, hunting small animals when feeling hungry, and living ignorantly day to day.
After becoming a yaoguai, the python could not help but think that he had been so stupid before. How could have he acted so indifferently to so many beautiful things? Now his life had new meaning. He was no longer just a fool who lived for the sake of living and knew nothing but living. He now had the dream to pursue beauty.
Why are yaoguai yaoguai and not human beings? That is because they always use their talents to the extreme, regardless of whether they are too radical or detached from reality. To put it simply, yaoguai are some unbelievably simple-minded creatures.
This python was no exception. Since he had had this passion to pursue beauty, he became fully engaged in this matter, tirelessly wandering in the forest every day, looking for all things having a hint of beauty, and appreciating them wholeheartedly.
One evening, after carefully studying the delicate patterns of a sunflower, the python was a little hungry, so he slowly slithered around in search of food.
Soon, a small golden bird swooped down to a nearby branch, her black tail flicking playfully in the air. The python didn’t recognize this bird, but hunger drove him to slide over. Right before he could grab the bird and swallow it, the bird, unaware of the approaching danger, suddenly started singing to the brilliant full moon.
The python was stunned for a moment. He had never heard such a beautiful song before and immediately felt his heart racing. How could such a beautiful thing exist in the world? So beauty did not only require eyes to see it and a nose to smell it but also ears to hear it!
He forgot his hunger. With his brown head still held high in the air, he was completely immersed in the song until the bird flapped her wings and flew away. That night, he could not sleep since that song kept playing over and over in his head.
The python didn’t know that it was a yellow warbler. That morning, a man selling songbirds accidentally knocked a birdcage over when he was traveling through the forest on his way to the city. Dozens of warblers, larks, orioles, and ruby-throats fled into the woods. These birds were purebred singing birds, carefully trained by the bird breeder, and thus were enabled to sing marvelously.
From this day, the forest was filled with heavenly music. The python became intoxicated and wished to grow one thousand ears.
People who like music know that after hearing a good song, one naturally wants to learn how to sing it. The python was the same. While listening to the birds’ singing, he secretly sighed in his heart: Oh, if only I could sing too!
He had tried many times, but when he opened his mouth, he could only make a hissing sound. No matter how hard he tried, there was always that monotonous hissing sound. It was so ugly that he could not bear to hear himself and instantly shut his mouth.
One day, he summoned up the courage to approach a lark that looked quite friendly and asked, “May I ask you something?”
This lark grew up in a cage and had never seen a python before, so she did not feel scared and replied with a big smile, “Go ahead.”
“How can I sing like you?”
The lark gazed at the python in amazement and replied, “I don’t know.”
“Then how did you learn to sing?”
“I was born to sing. I don’t need to learn.”
The lark told him a little white lie. She wanted the python to admire her, so she hid the truth that it had been achieved after a lot of long hard practice.
In great disappointment, the python slowly slipped away.
The python had an old friend, who was a pangolin. The pangolin’s talent happened to be the opposite of the python’s. She was keen on rational thinking and always spoke sharply.
The pangolin noticed that her friend had been depressed for several days, so she asked him with concern, “Hey, did you eat some bad food?”
The python shook his head and replied wanly, “I can never learn how to sing…”
“What are you talking about?”
“The bird told me that singing was a natural thing and there was no way to learn how to do it.”
The pangolin snorted, “She’s bragging, I’m sure of that.”
“Really?” the python’s spirits lifted a bit. “Then I can learn to sing!”
The pangolin didn’t want to break her friend’s heart, but her rational nature wouldn’t allow him to say something tactful, so instead, he answered bluntly, “No, you can’t.”
“Because a python can never learn to sing.”
“Each creature has its own unique ability. A python wanting to sing is like a bird wanting to dig a hole or a frog wanting to fly. It is an act of forcing oneself to do something that is doomed to failure. You will fall into the trap of self-doubt and may even lose the true joy in life!”
The pangolin’s words left the python speechless. He stopped listening to his friend and curled himself into a ball.
After sobbing alone for three days, the python decided to go to see the witch of the forest.
The witch’s home was difficult to find. The python searched for seven days and seven nights and finally got to the witch’s hut which was in the hollow trunk of a huge redwood tree. The witch was sitting at the door, knitting a shawl with the soft moonlight she collected last night.
The python slinked over carefully and said, “Dear witch, I want to sing beautiful songs like a bird. Could you please help me?”
The witch couldn’t help but grin. She had never seen a python that wanted to sing. She looked closely at her visitor. He was sad and haggard, swaying like rootless water grass. His eyes hardened like stones with desperate persistence. The witch realized that the python had made his mind. She bent down in astonishment, and her chin almost touched the ground.
“I can make you sing beautiful songs, little snake,” she said, “but the price is high. You must give your life.”
“You mean, if I die, I can sing?”
“Then I can die right now!” the python cried. “Whatever it takes, as long as I can sing beautiful songs, I can give it to you!”
But the witch could not bear it in her heart. Although she had just met this python, she liked him so much that she didn’t want to take away his life.
“There are many beautiful things in this world. Look at yourself, aren’t you beautiful? You don’t have to sing beautiful songs.”
The witch tried to persuade the python to change his mind, but the python just kept begging her. Finally, the witch had to give in. She took out a silver needle, coated the tip with a little pure honey, and poked the python between his eyes. The python immediately died without pain.
The witch used the skin of the python to make a beautiful stringed erhu, then went to the city and gave the erhu to a wandering artist who played on the street. The artist was blind, but he was a master of THE erhu like no one else. People called him “Master Blind”.
Master Blind took the erhu with both hands, thanked the witch, and played it after a little tuning. The melodious sound of the erhu, accompanied by the bright moon and the breeze, drew a gentle arc in the silent night sky.
When the song was finished, Master Blind’s cheeks were wet with tears, “What a wonderful instrument!”
At the same time, the birds in the forest heard the song from afar and exclaimed in awe: “He did it! The python has learned to sing!”
The pangolin also heard the song and burst into tears, “He did it! The python has learned to sing!”
Yes, the little python had learned to sing at last. But like many yaoguai obsessed with art, he paid for it with his life.

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