An old parable that bears repeating. I heard it first from Chris Thomas (of Torchbearers International) in Estes Park. Originally published in the London Observer.

The Mice Family

Imagine a family of mice who lived all their lives in a large piano. To them in their piano-world came the music of the instrument, filling all the dark spaces with sound and harmony. At first the mice were impressed by it. They drew comfort and wonder from the thought that there was someone who made the mice—though invisible to them—above, yet close to them. They loved to think of the Great Player whom they could not see.

Then one day a daring mouse climbed up part of the piano and returned very thoughtful. He had found out how the music was made. Wires were the secret; tightly stretched wires of graduated lengths which trembled and vibrated. They must revise all their old beliefs: none but the most conservative could any longer believe in the Unseen Player.

Later, another explorer carried the explanation further. Hammers were now the secret, numbers of hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. This was a more complicated theory, but it all went to show that they lived in a purely mechanical and mathematical world. The Unseen Player came to be thought of as a myth.

But the pianist continued to play.


2 thoughts on “Mice in the Piano

  1. Until the wires (let’s say the age of the universe and Earth) were discovered they were debated as being a fact by some mice with vision, however their ideas are rejected, and they are abused by most of the mice in favour of the unseen players ancient book that guides them, however the visionary mice are exonerated. The same beliefs are applied to the hammers (how about biological evolution) and again the mice with vision were abused but again were proved correct. However, many mice still believe the wires and hammers are incorrectly applied and understood and only exist because of the unseen piano player who made it all and keeps watch on it all every day all of the time as per the ancient book.

    This says that the mice fought very hard against the facts of wires and hammers with about half the mice still claiming they are a lie or a conspiracy against the unseen piano player because the ancient book says so.

    The piano player has never been seen yet many mice believe he exists because of the ancient book. Again, the mice with vision discuss the many options just as they previously have done in the past and again the rest of the mice rubbish the visionaries with conspiracies and formulated rubbish to hold up progress as they always have done while they read the ancient unseen piano player’s book and use their scientifically advanced hospital equipment, medicines, cell phones, iPad, computers, 3D printers, robots and transport systems to enjoy their lives in the modern world, right?


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