A shaman once gave a girl a bottle of magic ointment. Each time the girl put it on her face she transformed into the most beautiful woman in the world. Other women envied her beauty. Men lavished her with gifts and praise. Not only was the girl’s outward appearance transformed, but she was so elevated by the appreciation of others that her spirits changed also.


However, the girl noticed that flies were often attracted to the ointment. At first this was a minor inconvenience. She would swat the flies away, apply the ointment, and go back to experiencing the wonders of her new life.


Over time, however, the flies became more and more of a nuisance. They landed in the ointment, and she often had to pick them out with her fingers. Sometimes they would break apart in her hands. But the girl would remind herself it was a small price to pay for incredible beauty and an elevated spirit.


Until the day when she reached two fingers into the ointment and, without seeing it, accidentally applied a fly’s wing to her cheeks. She was still beautiful, and everybody still admired her, but when she came home at the end of the day and looked in the mirror to discover the fly wing stuck to her cheek, she threw the ointment away in her anger and never used it again.