The Fable of Coyote and the Void

J U N E   2 0 1 3

The Void sat on a rock, staring blankly into space.

Coyote approached him. “You look blue,” she said. “What’s up?”

coyote“I don’t know,” the Void said. “Something’s missing, that’s all. It’s like I want to write a love letter but I don’t know my lover’s address. I feel like I could burst into a million million pieces. It hurts.”

Coyote sat down next to him. “That’s a big problem all right,” Coyote said. They sat there quietly for a long time.

“I have an idea!” Coyote said. “You need to make something, something different from you! You need an up and a down, darkness and light, that kind of thing.”

“What good would that do?” the Void asked.

“Well,” Coyote suggested, “it might give you an address for your letter.”

The Void considered this. He shook his head. “That’s pointless,” he said. “Anyway, the thing about the love letter was poetry. I didn’t mean it literally.”

“Okay,” Coyote said. “Just a thought.”

They sat quietly again. Then Coyote sat up straight. “I’ve got it!” she said.

“What?” asked the Void.

“Look, you have to make it more interesting. Start with things like darkness and light, up and down and so on, just to make sure you’ve got an over here and an over there, a subject and an object, and then…”

“Wait a minute,” the Void interrupted. “How could I do that? You know I can’t be divided.”

“Just pretend!” said Coyote. “Make believe you can! Look, pretend there’s a sky. Color it blue or something, put clouds in it, then pretend there’s an Earth underneath, halfway up. Plant things in the Earth and…”

“Wait!” the Void blurted. “You’re getting ahead of me!”

“Just listen,” Coyote said, “I’m on a roll. Make the plants all different shapes and colors, and make wind blow through the sky to move the clouds and let the growing things sway about. Then you could send your love letter — or whatever it is — to all of them. What do you think?”

“Mmm, quite the picture,” the Void said. “Still, I don’t see the point.”

But Coyote’s enthusiasm wasn’t dampened. She jumped up and turned to the Void, exclaiming, “There’s more! Pretend there’s little creatures everywhere that could move around on their own — some could fly, some could swim, some crawl, some walk. I’m sure they’d all love to read your letter!”

The Void tried to imagine what Coyote was describing. “Well, maybe,” he said, “but I’m not sure they’d be interested in my letter. Anyway, there’s another problem.”

“What’s that?”

“Too much work. Those creatures and growing things would wear out. I don’t want to have to keep making new ones.”

“Right, right,” said Coyote. “That is a problem.”

“Although, I suppose we could let them do it,” the Void offered. “I mean, put them to work making more of themselves.”

“You’d need to make it fun,” Coyote said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t bother.”

“True,” said the Void. “That means they’d have to want to. That means desire. Lots of problems with that.”

“You’re right,” said Coyote, stumped.

They decided to leave it for the day, to let the idea simmer.

The next morning the Void was walking by himself contemplating Coyote’s scheme. It was good, he could see that, but it was still missing something, something important.

He met Coyote. “I’ve been thinking,” he said.

“So have I,” Coyote replied. “Something’s missing, isn’t it?”

“Yep. Your idea is nice enough, what with blue sky and clouds, and creatures walking around underneath and making more of themselves, even allowing for the problem of desire, but in the end, there’s still the question…”

“I know what you’re going to say,” Coyote interrupted. “What’s the point?”

“Exactly,” said the Void.

“But what’s the point of your love letter?” Coyote asked. “That’s what started all this, after all.”

“Shhh,” said the Void. “You just gave me an idea.”

Coyote sat patiently, eyeing the Void.

Suddenly the Void shouted, “I’ve got it!” His eyes were bright. “Oh yes!”


“We’ll make the Beautiful!” the Void cried. “The most wonderful, happy, glorious, radiant, majestic, sacred and tender Beautiful that ever could be! All the creatures will love it, and their love for the Beautiful will become an answer to my love letter!”

Before Coyote could say another word, the Void spun around, his arms outstretched, spinning so fast a whirlwind rose up, encompassing both of them.

The whirlwind grew to be a Beauty as vast as all vastness, becoming more beautiful than the Void and Coyote ever could have imagined.

“Now that was a good trick,” Coyote said when she caught her breath. “But now we have another problem.”

“What? What could be a problem?” demanded the Void, proud of himself.

“The creatures and all those growing things,” Coyote explained, “they’ll see the Beautiful and won’t even bother to move, or for that matter bother to make more of themselves. They’ll just stand in awe. No desire.”

“You’re right,” the Void said, instantly deflated. “What to do?”

Coyote winked at him. “I know,” she said.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Hide it,” she said.

“What do you mean,” asked the Void.

“Hide the beautiful! Hide it inside everything! Just let a little Beautiful shine out at a time so all the beings don’t get dumbstruck. Then they’ll want more. They’ll see the Beautiful glinting out of each other and that’ll start them hugging and making more of themselves, and they’ll see it peeking out of the sky and clouds and everywhere, and they’ll love everything and care for it and their love will be their letter back to you!”

“Perfect!” the Void cried out, and that word rang through the vastness. He embraced Coyote and cried out, “Yes! Now all the creatures will desire the Beautiful, loving what is just out of their grasp! The clouds will be making beautiful to mimic the Beautiful inside them they can’t see, the sky will be making beautiful, the growing things will be making beautiful, the creatures of all kinds will be making beautiful, making beautiful as they make themselves! My letter will be received and answered!”

And so they both got to work, first making the Beautiful even greater, so infinitely beautiful that tears ran down their cheeks, and then out of the Beautiful they made the sky a hundred shades of blue, and the clouds ever-changing, and the Earth glorious, watered by rain that fell from the clouds and gathered in streams and rivers and oceans, growing all the beings, some rooted, some winged, some with feet, and at each turn they made the Beautiful visible and hidden, flung through every inch of space and every moment of time.

“This is fun!” the Void shouted. He turned to Coyote. “How can I ever thank you?”

Coyote blushed. “Don’t be silly,” she said.