Tag Archives: Symbolism

The Lumberjack and the Printing Press

Once there was an old lumberjack. He had been a lumberjack for most of his youth, starting when he was around thirteen. If that sounds a bit young to be earning a living from hard labor, you might consider that back in his day, those that didn’t work, didn’t eat. So naturally, this person decided to choose the best course of action, which was to maximize skills that he’d been given. And his particular skills were in swinging an ax. There was a group of lumberjacks who were passing through town when he was a boy, and asked around where they were going. He hadn’t known anything about lumberjacks at that time. He just became incredibly curious at the sight of all these big powerful men rumbling through town.

He asked what this was, and he was told that it was a crew going up to the forest to cut down some trees. They were building another town nearby,and they needed the wood. So the young lumberjack to be decided to follow this, to see where it would lead. He followed them long enough for them to notice him, and when they saw how well he could swing an ax, he naturally joined them. He followed them around for several years, chopping different kinds of trees to get wood, so they could build more houses, because the population was quickly growing.

As he started to get older, he noticed that his group of lumberjacks was slowly becoming smaller and smaller. There were less and less young boys that wanted to join. They had other, more modern interests. And as the group of lumberjacks began to shrink, so did the need for wood. They would spend seemingly endless nights arguing whether the decrease in lumberjacks was causing the decrease in demand for wood, or if the shrinking demand for wood was the reason for the dwindling group of lumberjacks.

That had been long ago, and this lumberjack was growing old. He still carried around his ax, the one they’d given him when he chopped down his one thousandth tree. That was not an easy milestone to reach, so they gave him not an easy ax to lift. It was heavier than all the other ax’s he’d carried with him before. But how, as he became older with every passing day, the ax seemed to be getting heavier and heavier. A small voice kept telling him to get rid of it, because it wasn’t worth anything. But he knew that if he did that, he might well die, because lumber jacking had been his life, and getting rid of this old ax would have meant throwing away a lifetime of memories. He just couldn’t bring himself to do.

As time passed, the ax became more and more an embarrassing burden. He started to question it. He started to question the value of the old ax. Everywhere he went, people would point and whisper. They had never seen a real lumberjack. They all thought they only lived in stories. The lumberjack became more and more distressed. Each day that passed, each chuckle he heard behind his back would cause him anxiety. What to do with this old ax?

Then one day he was walking down a rather large street. His ax was slung over his shoulder, and his head was drooped down low. He knew people were staring, but he couldn’t bear the embarrassment of meeting their eyes. Then, for some reason, which he would later describe as divine inspiration despite the fact he’d never been inside a church, he immediately spun around. He saw people frantically trying to help a man who appeared to be partially inside a printing press. There had recently been a newspaper in town, and the printing press had printed out a newspaper three times a week. They man’s arm was caught in the machine, and the people helping him were desperately trying to pull him out. It didn’t appear they were having much luck. The lumberjack realized that if they didn’t help him, he would be killed.

“Stand back!” He yelled in his booming voice. The people parted, and the lumberjack swung his ax over his head, and heaved it towards the machine. It swirled through the air, end over end, until the head was buried into the printing press with an ominous metallic clank, as the onlookers gasped in horror. The machine was stopped, and the man was freed. The crowd looked at the lumberjack in awe.

“You saved my life,” the man meekly said to him.
“I guess I did,” said the lumberjack, who smiled, closed his eyes, and breathed his last.

The townspeople took the ax which saved their mayors life, and put it up in the center of town, in honor of the unknown lumberjack, where it remains to this very day.