When Hsu Wu-kuei emerged from the interview, Nu Shang said, "Sir, may I ask what you were talking to our ruler about? When I talk to him, I talk to him back and forth about the Odes and Documents, about ritual and music; and then I talk to him up and down about the Golden Tablets and the Six Bow-cases. I have made proposals that led to outstanding success in more cases than can be counted, and yet he never so much as bared his teeth in a smile. Now what were you talking to him about that you managed to delight him in this fashion?"There you have it. If you want to impress the president or your local mayor, don't talk to him/her about public policy or your political perspective. No, you'll make a much better impression if you talk about dogs and horses!
Hsu Wu-kuei said, "I was merely explaining to him how I judge dogs and horses, that was all."
"Was that all?" said Nu Shang.
"Haven't you ever heard about the men who are exiled to Yueh?'' said Hsu Wu-kuei. "A few days after they have left their homelands, they are delighted if they come across an old acquaintance. When a few weeks or a month have passed, they are delighted if they come across someone they had known by sight when they were at home. And by the time a year has passed, they are delighted if they come across someone who even looks as though he might be a countryman. The longer they are away from their countrymen, the more deeply they long for them -- isn't that it? A man who has fled into the wilderness, where goosefoot and woodbine tangle the little trails of the polecat and the weasel, and has lived there in emptiness and isolation for a long time, will be delighted if he hears so much as the rustle of a human footfall. And how much more so if he hears his own brothers and kin chattering and laughing at his side! It has been a long time, I think, since one who speaks like a True Man has sat chattering and laughing at our ruler's side."
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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