This is from Tolstoy, according to Colin Wilson in the book The Outsider, citing an Eastern fable:
“… a man clings to a shrub on the side of a pit to escape an enraged beast at the top and a dragon at the bottom. Two mice gnaw at the roots of the shrub. Yet while hanging, waiting for death he notices some drops of honey on the leaves of the shrub, and reaches out and licks them.”
Good lord! I realize that by comparison to many I have had an easy life. At the same time, I have had my share of tragedy, as we all must experience to wake up and grow. Through it all I have come out an optimist. There is meaning in life, and death is either the end of consciousness or a continuation of life in some other form … I cannot know but in either case, it does not scare me.
There is one precious commodity that exists that gives meaning to life: unconditional love. I see it every day, most openly expressed in the parent-child relationship. Add to that our abilities to think in abstract, write, paint and perform, build and invent, even to make wine and beer … these seem like gifts to humanity. Is it all just an accident?
Such manifestations of our essential talent and goodness could not have come about by this thing we call “evolution.” That’s a crock.
The man hanging on the side of a pit will be rescued by a perfect stranger who gains no benefit by doing so. He will have new appreciation of life and loving, and will feel in his bosom the warmth of human connections and of intellectual and artistic achievements. He will again see purpose in life. He just won’t know for sure what that purpose might be.
But it exists. How can it not?