Rhyme and Reason in the Kingdom of Being (an Allegory)

A long time ago and very far away lived the Queen of Being and her twin daughters, Rhyme and Reason. Both were beautiful and bright, and as they grew, their mother envisioned them as her advisers and, ultimately, the future rulers of the kingdom.

Despite their equal gifts, it seemed when they were very young as though Rhyme was clearly the Queen’s favorite, and all the court shared in adoring the delightful child. When she sang, everyone would stop to listen. When she danced, everyone turned their heads to see. Although there were no refrigerators to put them on in those days the Queen, like any proud parent, made sure that Rhyme’s artwork was on display: her works covered the walls of the palace hallways, and the staff and visitors assured her that she was quite the artist!

Reason, by contrast, was not often seen about the castle.  Recognizing that she had a talent for languages, logic and mathematics, the queen engaged the best tutors in the land. To Reason, it was baffling that more people didn’t see the beauty of a well-constructed geometric proof. She adored the way that lines became letters, letters became words, words became sentences…sentences that could contain a universe within! She was at a complete loss as to how anyone could pass a debate on the obligations of privilege without becoming deeply engaged.

“Rhyme gets all the attention,” Reason thought miserably, “No one ever notices me.” She loved her letters and numbers, though, and retreated into them: “I’d rather read my book, anyway.” she said, and hid within the Nursery, poring over her books to her heart’s content.

One day, the Queen announced that a great Statesman was coming to visit the kingdom, and with him he would bring a magnificent entourage, including Dancers, Musicians and Artists, along with a great many Philosophers, Mathematicians and Writers. Both girls were tremendously excited by the prospect of such visitors, and chattered excitedly about the delights the visit would bring.

“I shall put on a show for them!” exclaimed Rhyme, unaware of her sister’s slight jealousy. And Reason, being at her heart a loving sister, smiled and assured her they would love it.

“As for me, I am just grateful some of them have more academic interests.” said Reason.  And Rhyme – who was secretly impressed with her sister’s accomplishments – agreed: it was high time she got some of the recognition she deserved.

The day came when the Statesman and his entourage arrived, and Rhyme came out in all her glory.  It was quite a shock to her, then, when she heard the polite but tepid applause in response to her performance.  Was that laughter she heard as she pirouetted across the stage?

Reason and their mother, being in the audience, heard even more: “What a sweet child,” they heard a Dancer say, “She obviously has no training, though, and she will never be an accomplished dancer. Why, it’s almost cruel of her mother to allow such a display”.

Rhyme was not so lucky as she wandered the halls the following day. Happening upon one of the Artists in conversation with the Statesman, she kept out of sight and listened in: “Hopefully she gets some sort of training,” said the Artist, “So these dreadful scribbles can be replaced with something competent.”

“Well it’s hardly the child’s fault if she is given no tutelage. And more’s the pity, she has real talent, I think!” said the Statesman in reply; unfortunately, Rhyme never heard the reply, having run away in tears before he spoke.

It’s no surprise then, that when the time came for dinner on the second night of the visit, Rhyme cancelled her plans to entertain the group with a song, and took a seat at the foot of the table, making herself as inconspicuous as possible. Silent in company for perhaps the first time in her life, she observed that Reason was having a very different experience. Trained in the arts of philosophy, mathematics and logic by teachers of the very schools the visiting dignitaries had attended, Reason was able to meet them on their own level, and even managed to impress them once or twice.

Rhyme was hardly even surprised when, after dinner on the second night, the Queen gently suggested that she might be more comfortable staying in the Nursery for her meals until the Statesman and his delegation had departed.

From that day forward, Rhyme quietly began to disappear. Her voice was never heard raised in song. If she danced, it was only behind closed doors. Her artwork was slowly pulled from the walls, and replaced with impressive works by certified masters of the arts. Having nothing better to offer, Rhyme contented herself with her childhood toys behind the Nursery doors, acknowledging she could never compete with the Artisans she had met during the Statesman’s visit.

Reason, on the other hand, began to accompany the Queen everywhere she went, and to learn the intricacies of statecraft, diplomacy and trade. If it crossed her mind that  Rhyme seemed to be hidden away, she thought, “Well, it’s only fair I should get a turn.” As the Queen increasingly came to rely on her for perspectives and advice, Reason dismissed her sister’s absence: “She cares only for singing and dancing and making little pictures. She has no interest in these matters – it is best we not trouble her at all.”

In the manner of all life, the Queen grew old, and passed away; and the responsibility of the kingdom naturally fell to Reason, to whom she had passed along all her knowledge. And for a long while, things hummed along quite nicely, as Reason predicted they should.

Eventually, though, the day came when Reason had to admit that, despite her knowledge of statecraft, diplomacy and trade, the kingdom was not thriving as she had projected.  Her profit and loss statements did not match the actual returns she was seeing. Reason was forced to consider assembling a delegation of her own, to see why her kingdom’s products were no longer sought after as they had been in her mother’s day.

“Perhaps,” she thought, “it’s time to negotiate a new trade deal with the Statesman.” She gathered her philosophers, mathematicians and writers together, and off they went.

The Statesman welcomed Reason and her delegation with great ceremony and festivities. Reason was a bit impatient with the entertainments on the evening of their arrival, but trade negotiations began the following morning, and Reason felt confident she would soon be in her element. The thing she hadn’t seen coming was this: the Kingdom of Being really had nothing the Statesman or his people wanted.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t force my people to buy your goods, and really, there’s nothing that distinguishes them.” he said, almost apologetically. “They are excellent technically, of course; but our own tradesmen carry items of equal technical quality, and our Artisans add a certain je ne sais quoi. Factor in the cost of shipping on top of that and…” the Statesmen shrugged his shoulders in eloquent silence.

That is when Reason remembered her sister Rhyme: a girl who had been mocked by those very Artisans so many years ago. And that is when Reason proposed another deal altogether than the one she had come to offer.

“Send me your Artisans, then,” she proposed. “My mother spared no expense on my education, but there is another whose education was sorely lacking.”

“You speak of your sister, Rhyme.”

“I do.”

“A charming child – I thought she was absolutely delightful. What is she up to these days?”

Reason felt tremendous shame at the answer she was obliged to give, but the very Kingdom depended upon her to give it. “She has all but banished herself to the Nursery since your visit all those years ago,” she began. “And to my discredit…I did nothing to stop it.”

“I see.”

“I’d like to make it right.” said Reason. And the Statesman agreed.

It wasn’t something that could be fixed overnight, of course, but under the tutelage of the greatest Artisans of the Stateman’s realm, Rhyme was convinced to emerge from hiding. As she studied, Rhyme was astonished to discover that many of her failings lay not in talent, but in a lack of education, and in the poor quality of the tools and materials she used.

What’s more, Reason began to invite her to sit in on all sorts of strategic discussions regarding the business of the realm.  Having learned the importance of bringing something unique to the marketplace, Reason encouraged Rhyme’s involvement and contributions, and was delightfully surprised, over and over again, when those contributions brought not only beauty but real value to their offerings.

Most importantly of all, though, the relationship between Rhyme and Reason, having never been impaired through malicious intent, healed quickly. As it did, it seemed to spread throughout the Kingdom. Over time, Rhyme became a great Artisan in her own right, and led a renaissance of creative endeavor throughout the Kingdom of Being.

From that day forward, never did one sister try to lord (or lady) it over the other but, respectful of each other’s true talents and brilliance, they formed a collaboration that brought a Golden Age to the Kingdom of Being.

And would you believe, it thrives to this very day?!

Should you be inclined to visit this magical place, I encourage you to begin by looking within.

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