To get to the other side, he had to pass through the mudhole.
He could clearly tell things on the other side were better, so every day he tried making it through the mudhole.
Every day he tied one end of the rope to a tree. The other end went around his waist. Then he trudged into the mudhole. Every day he made it far enough that the muck bubbled up to his chest. When he couldn’t take another step without becoming permanently stuck, he turned around and pulled himself out of the mudhole.
Every day, in his soppy, muddy clothes, he lumbered back to his hut and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning his boots and pants. By the end of the day he was exhausted from all his efforts. So exhausted he slept quite soundly as the clothes hung and dried overnight. In the morning he put on the same pants and boots and trudged again into the mud, only to extract himself again before becoming permanently stuck.
One day his friend, Alias, asked, “Why do you do this day after day?”
“Because I can plainly see things are better on the other side of the mudhole. Yet, it seems impossible to get there through all the heavy, sticky muck.”
“Of course,” Alias said. “But instead of plodding into it every day only to turn around, unsuccessful – surely, by now, you’ve considered constructing a footbridge over the mudhole. Instead of going through it, surely you’ve thought about going over it?”
“Of course, I have considered this,” Targin said. “For I am not a fool. But there is no time for building a footbridge when I spend all my afternoons cleansing my boots and pants of all the mud, then waiting for them to dry. Furthermore, there is no effort left in me for building a bridge when I am already so exhausted from trying to pass through that cursed mudhole.”
Alias offered, “If you should reconsider, I can give you a small sum of money for the supplies to build a footbridge.”
“You are quite generous,” Turgin said. “Perhaps I will take you up on your offer of money when I am in need of a new pair of boots. That, I believe, is the wiser investment.”
“I am afraid there will be no offering of money for new boots,” his friend replied.
“So you have no faith in my ability to reach the other side of the mudhole? Then I suppose things shall remain as they have always been – myself as the only one with enough faith and courage to reach the other side. And I suppose I am still the only one who understands that the pedestrian skills of the carpenter can’t be enough for reaching the promised land. No, Alias, it takes sacrifice and will and discipline and faith. Saws and boards and nails shall never be enough.”
Alias bid his friend farewell.
Turgin could tell there was something better on the other side of the mudhole. He even had the will to try to get himself to the other side. He imagined that his knowledge and efforts made him exceptional. Yet, to everyone but himself, his execution made him the greatest fool of them all.