Chinese Idiom Stories

Ignorance of The Objective World

In the State of Lu, there was a couple of husband and wife, the former being an expert shoemaker and the latter a skilled hand in wearing taffeta. One day after consultations they decided to go to the state of Yue to earn a livelihood. The neighbors advised them not to go when they learned about their plan. "Don't go there," said one neighbor, "If you go, you can never earn a livelihood."

"We cannot understand you," interrogated the couple, "We have a find command of our art, how could we not earn our living with our work? Don't make a fool of us, please."

"Indeed, you have your skill," explained the man, "But have you taken notice of the fact that shoes are made for people and the silk taffeta are for hat-making? The people of Yue don't wear shoes, for they are barefooted. Again, they like to have their hair spread out over their heads and they never use hats. To whom should you sell your shoes and hats then?" Experienced though you are in the arts, yet the arts you have mastered are useless there."

After this explanation, the husband and wife now understood that anything that was not adaptable to the objective world would be useless and unpractical.


魯國有對夫妻,男的是鞋匠,鞋子做的很好;女的是織絹能手。有一天,他們商量想到越國去謀生。消息傳到四鄰後,有人對他們說:「不要到那兒去!否則你們一定無法生存的!」那對夫婦說:「我們不明白你的意思, 我們都有一套手藝,怎麼會生活不了呢?別胡說了!」 那人說:「對呀,你們雖然都有一套手藝,可是你們要知道,鞋子是給人穿的,但越國人都赤腳不穿鞋子,你們織的絲絹原是做帽子用的,但越國人喜歡披著頭髮,不戴帽子,你們的本領雖大,手藝雖高,但你們做的鞋子、帽子去賣給誰呢?」那對夫婦這才明白,凡事如果不合時宜,不適合客觀環境就不中用了。

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