The story of the Emperor and the Koi

I was told this story by a professor in college.  I have no idea where it originally came from, but I have drawn much inspiration from it since


The emperor of china commissioned a portrait of his favorite koi (a large goldfish) from the greatest painter inChina. The painter went away to work. After five years the emperor sent a message to the painter to inquire of his progress.  The painter indicated that the painting was his only project.  After ten years the emperor again sent a message to the painter and asked after the progress of the painting.  The painter again indicated that the portrait was his sole occupation.  Finally after twenty years, long after the fish had died, the elderly emperor decided to pay a personal visit on the painter.  On arriving he found the painter’s house completely filled with master class, brilliant paintings of the koi.  The emperor asked “Why did you not send me one of these paintings?”  The painter replied “Only now can I deliver unto you your painting.”  The painter stepped up to a blank canvas, raised his brush and paused.  Abruptly, and in one fluid stroke he painted a picture of the goldfish, which leapt off the page and swam away.

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