The Herder and The WaterJune 8, 2021
a business parable
From some unknown place, overhead, came a feeling that he was being motivated to press on. His name meant resilience. From the time he was a young boy he’d always managed to live up to it.
Where he came from, names have meanings. They become destinies and character traits.
Almuruna was a kind and benevolent camel herder wandering the hot desert sands — he was so proud of his precious four camels that he’d cared for them so attentively, even given them names —he called them Wind, Sunshine, Night and Day, such that he wanted as many prized camels as he could amass and in order to build his herd, he traded his precious water for them.
As he traversed the hot desert, he saw the yellow orb softly rising against the graduated stripes of darkening rust in the orange sky – he felt the blowing silica dance across his life-worn, calloused cheeks, the small grains tumbling down into the creases of his black and tan shemagh.
His legs felt heavy and he was conscious of the presence of his muscles as they burned, somewhat restfully, from the night’s journey.
For a fleeting moment he thought about where he’d rolled up and stored his rations for tomorrow’s trek. The thought flew away as the strong wind curled around him, spinning the fringe on his clothing with the same deft delicate touch that graced the camels’ eyelashes.
The herder knew the camels well — he knew they could store water in their bodies and go weeks without hydration, so he willingly viewed his water supply as currency with which to acquire more stock.
When an “opportunity” presented itself, as he crossed the barren expanse, he would gleefully decant precious water from his clay vessels, only asking to get in return a thirsty and tired, but valuable camel which would undoubtedly be worth far more once he and the herd made it to their destination.
Once there, those camels would prove their worth.
They could give rides, they could carry supplies, they would be infinitely valuable because they are such versatile and gentle creatures.
About halfway across the desert, he’d seen familiar patterns and a lone camel thorn tree, a landmark, one he’d seen on previous trips, and despite it’s lack of fruit and moisture, a comforting and familiar sight.
By now he’d grown his herd to three times the original size, and had named the remaining eight camels: Sea, Sky, Storm, Cloud, Water, Rain, River, Monsoon.
About two-thirds of the way there, he noticed that the camels were making strange sounds, whimpering, and their energy level had greatly diminished. He gave them water and some of his food, but it never seemed to be enough to sustain them.
They seemed to cry out for more, uttering strange, panicked sounds he’d never heard before.
About three-quarters of the way there, he, too lost his focus, as his body temperature climbed, his head ached, his thirst made his mouth and insides feel dry and sharp, and all of his muscles grew tired.
Yet, his spiritual muscles still remained strong.***
His vision was dull and the sand scratched his eyes, as if nearsightedness and blurry vision had quickly set in.
He looked for a place to set up camp, and mustered all of his remaining strength to set up the tents for him and his camels, to keep them sheltered from the blistering sun.
The next morning, he was shocked to find he was nearly out of water, and six of his twelve camels had perished.
The next few days were dreadful. He rationalized that despite the painful loss of half of his herd, he still owned six, and that was two more than his original herd of four.
His strength continued to wane. One morning he awoke to the sound of rain, but he was too tired and drained to gather the clay pots and crease the tent top to create flow and fill the vessels with water. He’d just been too exhausted. He lay on the ground, under the tent, unable to even catch raindrops in his mouth. He turned his head and saw the droplets fall into the sand outside.
He cried but the tears wouldn’t come, as he had not a drop of moisture left in his body. He’d realized the rains came and he wasn’t ready.
He’d missed the opportunity.
As the herder slowly clung to life, unable to stand, unable to tend to his remaining herd, unable to give them what precious drops of water remained, and the remaining camels perished.
Despite all the rain, the sand and air dried up, and predatory birds came, it seemed from out of nowhere, and the herder could not protect the sanctity of his once prized dozen of regal camels.
He felt himself drifting away just as the faint sounds of a tribe grew louder, he heard the rhythms of drums and chatter. He blacked out. A kind hand propped up the back of his head as fresh water poured over his dry lips and face.
He’d been saved. Recovery was long but he would be the herder with no herd.
He’d learned that people are generally good and he was thankful for the help someone was willing to give a nomadic stranger.
He’d learned that he needed camels and water. He’d learned that camels do need water.
He’d learned that he made his living by selling the camels and their labor, not by accumulating camels.
He’d learned that if he wasn’t hydrated, he couldn’t care for his camels.
Or collect more water.
“The Herder and The Water,” Copyright, 2021, QORVAL Partners, LLC and/or Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP. No part of this article may be reproduced, shared or distributed or posted in any form without the express written consent of the author. All rights reserved.