The blind man who beat the sun at a staring contest

By: Laura Somma

I was idly walking the streets when I was stopped by a beggar. He had taken hold of my clothes and was insistently waving a hand, demanding an offer. Instead of shaking off his grasp like any respectable passerby would have done, I let my attention be drawn.  

One must earn one’s money. So I asked a story of the man, and this is what he said: 
“Once upon a time, there was a proud, arrogant man. He defied everything that came his way and one day, nobody knows how, he ended up in a staring contest with the moon. A whole night he stayed up to stare at her, and when the day came, he thought himself victorious, seeing that she was fleeing below the horizon.” 

I interrupted the beggar there, saying that this man must be pretty silly. He just shrugged and continued: 

“Inebriated with triumph, he decided to challenge the sun next. Without blinking once, he turned to face the rising sun. Nobody knows how he withstood the sun’s glare, but everybody knows he went blind and was plunged into darkness.” 

I burned with the desire to point out that anybody with the slightest bit of common sense wouldn’t do any of these idiocies. Not even those in asylums would be so foolish, but I let it pass, not wanting to seem rude. 

“The poor man, not seeing anything anymore, thought the sun had given up. He was convinced that it had stopped shining. He had finally achieved something worthy. The end.” 

I was impressed and committed those words to memory. I asked the beggar where the story came from. He answered cynically that the blind man who beat the sun in a staring contest could be found if one knew what to look for. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, just human folly. He proceeded to spit on a passing rat, as if to prove his point. Then he relented and said, neither modestly nor pompously, that he had thought of the story himself. 

I gave him as much money as I had, hoping he would have the sense to hide it from pernicious eyes, before some thief beat him up and stole it.