There once was a blacksmith at the far end of a tiny village.
Every day you could hear the clinking noise in the village each time he threw his hammer upon a hot iron.
Clink, clink, clink. He welded, forged, twisted, straightened until the, once useless, metals received useful forms.
The blacksmith’s hands were strong and dirty, and his face was usually dark from the smoke of the chimney. Like most villagers, the blacksmith was rather poor. But it was his work to be a blacksmith, and he knew that, with every clink, he brought the iron closer to something that was valuable for others. A sword, armor, a farming tool, a horseshoe, hinges, hammerheads, nails.
And so, he hammered, clink, clink, clink. Alone in his barn. Clink, clink, clink. Peaceful, he did his art.
One day, a boy entered the forge. He said that he had heard the clinking for years in the village and that he had always been wondering how the blacksmith labored.
“Dear blacksmith,” said the boy, “are you not tired from hammering metals, all day long?”
The young boy’s curiosity made the blacksmith chuckle. “Sometimes I am,” he said.
“And are you not fond of doing something else, every once in a while?”
Again, the blacksmith smiled, “yes, sometimes I am,” he said.
“But then, why are you keep on hammering every day in your lonely forge? And why aren’t you doing something else?”
“It’s what’s required of me,” said the Blacksmith quietly. “The farmer, the butcher, and the knight, all want their tools to be ready. And they all want them as soon as possible. If I’d do something else, they’ll never get what I promised them.”
The boy then felt sorry for the poor blacksmith and, without saying a word, he left the forge. As he walked away, he heard the blacksmith hammering again from a distance. Clink, clink, clink, and he wondered how the lonely man could possibly like his craft.
Time passed fast, and the boy grew up. His father sent him to barracks in the capital of the kingdom, and the boy was trained in the arts of combat. The boy was proud, and so was his family. He traveled far, visited many foreign lands and fought on many battlefields.
Years later, the young man became a commander, and to receive honor from his father, he returned to the village.
Over the years, he had gone through many changes but, to his surprise, the life in the village seemed to have stayed still.
All seemed to be the same, and when the new commander dismounted his horse, he heard the familiar sound of iron hitting steel. Clink, clink, clink.
He bound his horse to a post and walked up to the far end of the village, towards the noise.
When he reached the forge, he glanced into the half-open door of the workshop and saw the same blacksmith hammering, forging, welding.
“It has been many years,” said the warrior, and the blacksmith looked up and recognized the man who had once been a small boy with an urge to see the world.
“It has been many years,” repeated the blacksmith.
“And still you are forging and welding metals.”
“Yes, I do,” replied the blacksmith with a gentle smile. “And what have you done in all that time?”
“As you may know, I was sent to the barracks as a boy,” the warrior said. “I have learned the arts of combat and became a commander. Far have I traveled, many battles have I thought, many comrades have I lost. And all these years you have been here, in the forge, and welded metals.”
Now, the blacksmith walked closer to the warrior. He then reached out with his hand and gently took the sword of the commander.
“Handcrafted by a blacksmith,” he said. “45 inches, a long sword in a light-metal scabbard and a two-inch steel blade. Exceptional work.”
“It had served me well in battle,” said the warrior, and the blacksmith smiled.
Then the blacksmith reached out to the shield on the warrior’s back.
“Thirty inches. An all metal, copper and steel shield. Excellent work. Solid, secure and yet thin in its form. It must have been forged by an excellent blacksmith.”
“It protected me in many battles,” said the commander.
There was a short pause, and the blacksmith looked deep into the warrior’s eyes.
“My friend and honorable commander,” he said. “I didn’t forget what you have once told me when you were a child. You asked me if I wasn’t tired from hammering, all day long. And if I wasn’t fond of doing something else, every once in a while.”
“You told me that you were, sometimes,” said the warrior, and the blacksmith nodded and smiled again.
“Now, as you grew up, I’d like to ask you: Aren’t you tired of fighting, sometimes? And aren’t you fond of doing something else, every once in a while?”
“I do,” said the warrior. “No one can fight forever.”
“And yet, you will go back to the battlefield, will you?” said the blacksmith.
“Yes, I will.”
“It’s what I’m good at,” said the warrior, “it’s what I have learned, and worked hard for, it’s where my talents are. I’m born to be a warrior.”
The blacksmith stayed silent, and when the warrior thought about his own words, he started to smile too. “And you will come back to this forge and weld metal,” he then said.
“Exactly,” said the blacksmith with a calm smile on his face, “because that’s what I’m good at, and that’s where my talents are.”
“I guess, some are made for the arts of combat, and some others are made for the arts of forging metals,” the warrior said.
When the commander bade farewell to the blacksmith and walked away from the forge, he thought about the words of the old blacksmith. He, again, like in the old days, heard the clinking in the background and smiled.
“I, as a warrior,” he thought, “will not understand the variety and beauty of the arts of welding and forging metals. And he, as an old blacksmith, will never understand the variety and beauty of the arts of combat.”
He wandered through the village and suddenly felt a great relief in his body. He realized that not everybody needed to have the same tastes about life than he did. He chuckled silently when he noticed how different he and the blacksmith were. And how both found freedom and excitement. The warrior on the battlefields, and in the new, wide, conquered lands. And the blacksmith in his forge, in the detail and art of using heavy metals to forge precise tools.
Are we made to do the same? Are we made to think the same? Are we made with the same talents, preferences, motivations? Or are we made to take different paths – to the same destination?
By Samuel Ryter
Tags: Short-Story, Inspirational Story, Story with deeper meaning, Thought Provoking Story
Copyright 2019, Samuel Ryter (@sams-world)