“The mockingbird deceives,” the sage said. “It deceives others. It deceives itself. It knows not what it is.”
“Are you calling me a deceiver? Are you hinting that I am a mockingbird?” Alexander asked.
“A dog has fur and ears. A bird has feathers and a beak. A dog knows it is not a bird. There is no need for it to question if it is a bird, when it knows it is not. Your consideration makes sense only so much as it may be true.”
“Am I deceiver or not? Is that your accusation? Tell me, then, what you think I am.”
“It is not for me to say,” the sage said. “I only point out the difference. Only you know if you bark or chirp in the morning and at night. What should matter most to you is how you perceive yourself. And the difference between ignorance and understanding is vital. And understand too, what you are to me is more a matter of what you are than how I merely perceive you.”
“Perceptions can be deceiving,” Alexander defended.
“Then put another way, my dear Alexander, my incorrect distinction between a type of bird – a canary or a swallow – may be a matter of poor perception. Still, I can easily distinguish between a bird and dog, even at great distance.”
Alexander began mimicking a bark.
“I can help you understand what you are, but I cannot make you understand. You must want that,” the sage said.
“The dog is more noble than the lowly, deceitful mockingbird. Therefore, I must believe I am a dog,” Alexander said. “Thank you, sage, for now I have the answer.”
And then Alexander flew away.