The following story is indebted to Anthony de Mello.
"Merde" (real name Jean) Wilson was a knock-kneed youth with freckles that never left him until the day he died. He had red hair and crooked teeth and, despite his six feet in stature, never lost his slim build. His eyesight was none too good either; he wore thick glasses all his life.
The boy's parents both died when their car spun off the road and careered into a dam during a visit to Holland. The infant Jean was then raised by his aunt Phoebe and her husband Albert, cattle farmers. They lived in the Camargue district of France.
Merde's oddity, it seems, was first noticed in Primary School. The story is; and there is no reason to doubt it, that one day the six years old Jean was asked by his teacher to bring some plasticine to school so that he could be taught how to mould small figurines along with the rest of the class.
Instead, Merde showed up with a large bag of cow manure. The teacher, Mademoiselle Putti, who had been worried about the boy for some time, was curious. She went over to Jean who sat at the back of the class happily engaged in his creative endeavour; and asked...
"What are you doing Jean?"
"Making a teacher."
"But... what... what is that you're using?"
Miss Putti retired to her desk. Perplexed, and convinced now that the boy was mentally disturbed she went to fetch the principal, Monsieur Splatz, who came down the corridor to have a word with the rebel.
"Now Jean," said he. "Plasticine is not cow manure, is it?"
"What is it you are making, my boy?"
"I am making a school principal, Sir."
Mr. Splatz retired to a corner to have a word with Miss Putti. Heads nodded, fingers wagged, followed by red faces, sighs and whispers. They decided to call on the services of the school psychologist Monsieur Tordre.
"I'll take care of this, " Tordre assuaged his visitors. "Clearly a case of obsession and, very probably, bad toilet training."
So, he confronted Jean.
"Now Jean," said he leaning over the desk and stroking his thick, nicotined beard. "You could not get plasticine... and so... Jean... you picked up the first thing you could find. Right?"
"No... I picked shit."
"I see. And you are happy with shit?"
Mr. Tordre raised his eyebrows to Miss Putti and Mr. Splatz as if to say "I told you so."
"I bet now, I know what you are making."
"A school psychologist. Am I right?"
"Don't have enough shit," replied Jean.
From then on Jean Wilson became "Merde Wilson" who aspired to no academic achievement but lived happily ever after as a cattle farmer in the Camargue. Merde Wilson was a friend of all who knew him, was married with two daughters, both of whom became child welfare workers. On his tombstone he had etched:
"If you wish to be happy, be grateful for the gift of life and all that you have been given. Suffering is here to teach you about your ignorance.
Live your life and allow others to live their's.
Shit happens because it must, to remind us that nothing lasts: it requires no help from you."