The Boy, and The Jacket.
There was a boy with a special gift.
All the people in his town marveled at his talent.
They showered him with adoration, and decided they wanted to give him a gift to show him how much they adored his talents.
They gave him a beautiful jacket.
It fit him perfectly, and was made of fine materials.
The boy loved the jacket and wore it proudly everywhere he went. He was never seen without it.
He never took the jacket off. He wore it when he played outside, when it was hot, when he slept, and even when he bathed.
Eventually, he started to grow and the jacket became snug. It got tighter and tighter and more uncomfortable to wear.
But the boy still would not remove the jacket. He worried people wouldn’t recognize him without it.
As the jacket got tighter, it began tearing at the seams. It also began to smell and stain. It no longer looked like the jacket the people had given him. But the boy remembered that it was given to him for his talents, and that made him proud.
Because of his unsightly jacket, the people who praised him for his talents refused to get near him. Confused about this, he would spend many nights thinking deeply about what he was doing wrong to make people avoid him.
“Nobody wants to be around me anymore. There must be something wrong with me. Am I no longer talented?”
One day a wise man came up to him.
“Hello there,” he said.
The boy was surprised. No one had spoken to him in years, especially not a stranger.
“Why are you talking to me?” He asked. “Don’t you know there’s something wrong with me?”
The man looked at him smiling and said, “don’t you know your jacket smells awful? Take it off.”
“But sir, I've never taken this jacket off."
"Take off the jacket, cut it into pieces, and recycle the material. Make a new jacket of it, and give it to someone you meet. This will put an end to your loneliness."
"How will that put an end to my loneliness?" Asked the boy.
The man smiled softly. "Have faith. Do as I say and you will never be lonely again."
The boy looked around sheepishly. He trembled with fear as he removed the jacket. Once off, the wise man disappeared, and the boy was amazed.
He took his jacket to his home, cut out the remaining good fabric, and patched it together to make a new beautiful jacket. He went out into the street, and gave the jacket to a woman he saw.
"Why this is a beautiful jacket! It's for me?" She asked. "Where can I get another for my friend?"
The boy smiled and said "I'll have one for your friend next week."
Before too long, word of the boy's jackets spread far across the land. Everywhere he went he was being asked to make a new jacket for somebody. He never went anywhere without seeing somebody else wearing one of his jackets. They were so beautiful, people even wore them in the summer.
One night, after making many jackets and many friends, the wise man appeared to the boy in a dream.
"Well done," he said. "You have dressed an entire kingdom in beauty and elegance. You have made many people smile, and you have made many friends. The whole kingdom wears jackets as beautiful and elegant as the one you once wore, because of your willingness to take yours off."
The boy woke up and smiled. He was free. He was happy.