The Bottom Camel, a modern fable
Last Friday, my friends Robert and Terri took a leisurely stroll through the Riverside County National Date Festival.
As they walked through the fairgrounds, they came upon three camels. Two camels stood, twisting and craning their necks to get to the sweet hay strapped to the side of their corral. They worked hard to get at the sweet, delicious (and free!) food. But not the third camel.
The third camel was laying down. He was completely still, unmoving. He was not working hard. He was not straining himself. Instead of working hard at getting food, the third camel chose to lay down; he looked so comfortable and relaxed.
The third camel didn’t just lay down anywhere in the corral, no. He lay down at a specific spot, positioned below the other two camels. Terri saw him and said to Robert, “Oh, look at the Bottom Camel.”
This spot put him in a position so that he could completely rest. While the other two camels worked hard to pull the hay out of the netting, the bottom camel simply put his head down underneath the hay, and waited. The food literally rained down on his face and nose.
The Bottom Camel merely moved his lips, sweeping the sweet hay into his mouth. And he ate.
The moral of this story? Be the Bottom Camel, in other words, put yourself in the best possible position to do yourself the most good with the least amount of effort.
What might this look like in your life? Here are some examples:
- You and your study group divide up the course material, and teach part of it to each other
- You work with a current instructor on a research project together
- Take an essay you’ve done for a previous class and extend it further for another class. In a writing course, for example, you write a short journalistic piece; in the next class, you take that same topic and write another piece, focusing on a different angle (be careful to avoid self-plagiarism!).
In sum, you can find lots of ways to leverage your time and effort, and remember the lesson from “The Fable of the Bottom Camel.”