English Level: B1 🇨🇦

Full Transcript

The Cyclothymic King by Jorge Bucay

Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled a far off land.

He was a good king, but he had a problem: he had two personalities.

 There were days when he would get up happy and full of energy.  Right from the start, those were wonderful days.

 On those days, the king lowered taxes, redistributed wealth, did favors for others, and legislated to promote peace and ensure the well-being of his subjects.  

 However, there were other days too… dark days.

 When he awoke all he wanted was to fall back asleep. Sunshine bothered him more than rain!  

 On these days, the king raised taxes, annexed lands, and oppressed those who opposed him. He was afraid of the present, afraid of the future, and haunted by the mistakes of the past.  On those days he passed legislation opposed to the wishes and interests of the kingdom.  

 Aware of the problems caused by his unstable character, the king called a meeting.  Every wise man, wizard and advisor was there.  

 Gentlemen – he said – All of you have witnessed the unpredictability of my character.  You’ve reaped the rewards of my euphoria and suffered the hardships of my wrath.

But I have suffered far more than any of you because every day I have to undo what I did the day before when I saw things differently.

 What I need, Gentlemen, is for you to work together to find me a cure that will keep me from getting so absurdly optimistic that I’m unconscious of the risks, and from getting so ridiculously pessimistic as to oppress and harm those I love.

 The group accepted his task and for several weeks they worked on the problem.  However, neither spell nor alchemy were effective.

 So they appeared before the king and admitted their failure.  

 The king cried that night.

 The next morning a strange visitor arrived and asked to see the king.

 Your majesty – he said, bowing low – In the place that I’m from, they speak of your troubles.  I’ve come here to bring you a cure.

 Lowering his gaze, he presented to the king a leather box.

 The king was surprised and hopeful.  He opened the box and looked inside.  There he found a silver ring.

– Thank you – the king said enthusiastically – Does it have some magical power?

– Yes, your majesty – responded the man – but simply wearing it is not enough to make it work.

 Every morning, when you wake up, you must read the inscription that the ring bears, and you must remember it every time you notice the ring on your finger.

 The king held up the ring and read the inscription out loud:

  “Know that this too will pass.”

We’re living in uncertain times and that leads to stress and anxiety. But please remember, this too will pass. There will be a time when physical contact will be normal again. When meeting up with friends will be possible. When travelling and exploring new places will be a regular part of life.

Until then, stay safe and healthy.

Vocabulary Words

  1. to redistribute (verb): distribute (something) differently or again, typically to achieve greater social equality.
  2. to annex (verb) : add (territory) to one’s own territory by appropriation.
  3. Unpredictability (noun): inability to be predicted; changeability.
  4. unconscious (adjective): not awake and aware of and responding to one’s environment.
  5. ridiculous (adjective): deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.
  6. Troubles (noun): difficulty or problems.
  7. Inscription (noun): a thing inscribed, as on a monument or in a book.
  8. to bear (verb): have or display as a visible mark or feature.

Phrases to Remember

  1. to do (someone) a favor: to do a kind and helpful act for (someone)
  2. to bother: (of a circumstance or event) worry, disturb, or upset (someone).
  3. to reap the rewards: to get all the good things that come with something.

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