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Rated: E · Short Story · Inspirational · #980813
Depressed rat receives professional help from owl.
Norris D'Rat was a rat. A really sad rat. He lived in an alley behind the Chinese Restaurant. Norris had no friends, no family, no job and all he owned were the clothes on his back. One day the sadness became too much and he decided to get some professional help. He went to the Owl. "Owl, can you tell me how to be happy?"

The Owl looked into Norris's eyes then smiled. "Perhaps you need lots of friends to be happy," he said.

"Of course!" said Norris, "Why didn't I think of that."

So Norris read all the books in the library about making friends. And he enrolled in classes. And he joined the chess club, a tea circle, the football team and a yoga class.

Norris inviting everyone over for tea and threw some great parties. Soon Norris had more friends than he could ever imagine.

But one night after his friends had gone, Norris found he still wasn't happy. So back to the Owl he went.
"Why am I still sad?" asked Norris.

Once again, the Owl looked into Norris's eyes and smiled at what he saw.
"Perhaps you need to do great things to be happy."

"Great Things. Yes, that's right," said Norris.
And he went away wondering what great things he could do. He was just a common street rat after all. The next week, Norris opened a restaurant. It wasn't much at first. Just an abandoned warehouse down by the bay. But with much help from friends,
Norris turned it into something truly great. 'La Grand Norri' had tables that floated out into the bay, waiters that swooped down from the sky, a master chef from Paris, and a live band of travelling gypsies. People lined the streets to get a table and the papers declared it the grandest restaurant in the land.

Of course all this success was very exciting for Norris. But as time went by, other great restaurants opened and the papers stopped calling. And Norris began to tire of the long hours of work. Even worse, that same sadness was still there. How strange, you might say. But it was true.

"So why am I still sad?" pleaded Norris to the Owl.

Once again the Owl looked into Norris's eyes and smiled.
"Perhaps you'd be happy if you had a wife."

"A wife, of course. Why didn't I think of that," said Norris.

The next day Norris joined a gym and a singles club and placed an ad in the paper. With all his fame and friends, Norris was a great catch. He fell for a girl called Florida Jones. The two were soon married and she became Florida D'Rat. Norris bought her a house overlooking the city and Florida decorated it with the latest in designer chic. The papers declared them the cutest couple in the land. And they lived happily ever after......

...for a while.

There was no pleasing this rat. For after some time, Norris found that same sadness buried deep inside him. How could this be, you might ask. Florida was everything a wife could be. Though she did seem a little obsessed with the shopping.

Then something happened without any help from the Owl. Florida announced at breakfast that she was going to have a baby.
"A baby!" proclaimed Norris. "I'm going to be a father."

When the boy was born, they named him Bartholemew. Bartholemew rarely cried, ate all his food, and was happiest of all in his father's arms. And Norris poured all the love he could muster on his son. With time,

Bartholemew grew to be a big strong ten year old. And when Bartholemew was off with his friends and Florida was busy shopping, Norris had time to think. And worry. He worried about everything. Worst of all he worried that he wasn't happy.
"If only I was rich," thought Norris, "then all these worries would go away."

So Norris went back to the Owl and outlined his plans to become rich. The Owl didn't say much. He just smiled.

After much research, Norris launched his special line of frozen cuisine. People were busy and they wanted frozen meals that tasted good. Like Norris's. Then Norris expanded into frozen cuisine stores - "Norris on Time" - with disposable mini-ovens and express checkout lines.

One year later, Norris looked in the mirror and found himself very rich. He also found that his face had changed. It was more distant and cold. And fatter too. Norris had been eating more and more. And, even worse, Norris found that same sadness. As rich as he'd become, Norris still wasn't happy.

Again Norris went to the Owl for help. The Owl smiled warmly and said,
"Perhaps you need to search inside for happiness. It seems nothing in the outside world has worked."

Norris thanked the Owl and went away excited by his new challenge. And a little confused. Norris joined a church then a mosque and then a temple. Next he tried wizardy then earthery. He attended ceremonies, and marches and workshops galore. He shaved his head and changed his name 6 times and acquired lots of books and many strange clothes. And he gave all his worldly possessions away 3 times to 3 different gururs.

After all this internal searching, Norris Akmeed Meadow Lee Jehovah Liquid Crystal Ommm D'Rat was amazed to discover he still wasn't happy.

By now he was angry with the Owl.
"Nothing you've ever told me has worked. Sure I've had moments of happiness but it's been a lot of hard work and lots of unhappiness. So I'm done and I'm through with you Owl."

The Owl seemed pleased.
"And are you done and through with searching for happiness too?"

"Most definately, I give up," said the rat.
"Slendid Norris, my wonderful friend. Give up the search for your happiness is not lost. It's been inside you from the day you were born - and it shines from your eyes. Happiness is like a flame in you. It never goes out but it's deep down inside. Feel the flame, Norris, and you'll feel happiness."

And Norris felt this flame. It was so simple and quiet.
"But that's so simple," said Norris. "Why didn't you tell me years ago."

"Because you wanted to see for yourself all that this world had to offer. Success, money, friends, family, religion and wisdom are all wonderful things. But you don't need any of them to be happy. Happiness burns within you always - you just need to feel it each day."

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