Once upon a time, there was a great sculptor. He was renowned throughout the world for his beautiful works of art, and was much loved by all who knew him. Often people praised him. “You are divine!” they would say; “Beauty bounces through your mind!” his admirers would cry. This made the sculptor arrogant and self-assured, and soon he saw himself as the greatest sculptor to ever have lived.
One day, after he had unveiled his latest work, the sculptor was boasting in a tavern of his skill.
“Why,” he boomed, “I could challenge any being in the world to a contest and win!”
At that moment, a stranger called out from the corner: “I challenge you.” The stranger was shrouded in clothing; his face was hidden. “I challenge you to a contest,” said he. “Whichever of us can create a work that is more loved, wins.”
“Wins what?” asked the sculptor, highly intrigued.
“Well then, my man, I challenge you!” And the sculptor set off immediately to begin his new work.
He worked feverishly, seeing no one but his loved ones, and even then only on rare occasions. The work consumed him. His life was sculpture.
One day, a figure could be seen climbing the nearby mountain. A few hours later, there was a great bang! and there was a rockslide off the mountain, leaving a massive block of stone sitting at its base. The stone was too large to move, and so it was left there.
Finally, after months of work, the sculptor finished his piece. He took one look at the beautiful work, and then dropped dead from exhaustion. It was to be his greatest and final work. It was displayed in all the best art galleries, and civilised people liked to stare at it and say things like “Hmm” and “Marvellous”. Some even fainted at the sight of it, although none died. It was indeed a work of breathtaking magnificence.
“He definitely won the competition,” was the general consensus on the sculpture. “That stranger never showed his face again!” some would say. “ He must have been too ashamed, poor sod.”
Years passed, and countless events happened. Wars were fought. Some were won, some were lost. Many more artists came and went, and the sculptor’s work was slowly forgotten. It was not long until millennia had gone by.
One day, long after the competition had been forgotten, a group of hikers came across a stone in the forest. It was as if someone had taken a drop of rain from mid-air, turned it to stone, and enlarged it. The hikers ran off to tell the public of this, and soon tourists were flocking to see the stone.
“The wind,” said a scholar to his associates, “the wind must have eroded it from a block of stone, over the course of thousands of years. Really remarkable!” His associates would then reply, “Hmm, quite!” or something along those lines. “Something far greater than any man could ever hope to create!” the scholar would conclude.