Once upon a time, and long before anyone had ever heard of such modern conveniences as electricity or microwaves or fast food restaurants, there lived an inventor named Thomas.
Now Thomas wasn't your ordinary kind of inventor- Heavens, no!- he liked to make complicated machines to perform simple tasks, like raking leaves or washing clothes or baking bread.
One day, the king called upon Thomas to make him an invention- one that would make quick work of preparing breakfast. For you see, the king loved to wake up every morning to fresh coffee and warm toasted bread with butter and jam. But unfortunately, every time the royal chef would place a piece of bread on the cooking spit, it would fall through the slats and into the fire- hopelessly rendering it forever inedible.
Thomas was sure he was up to the task and set forth quickly from the palace to the royal junk heap, to obtain parts for his miraculous machine to toast the king's bread.
Along the way, he ran into a merchant selling fresh eggs and bacon.
"I bet the king would love scrambled eggs and bacon with his toast. I'll have to add something that will cook them as well," Thomas said to his apprentice John.
"The king just wants toast. Nothing more. There's no need to make things so complicated."
"It's no trouble at all. I'll just need a few more parts is all..."
Next, he came upon a group of lumberjacks just sitting down to breakfast. The smell of sausages, pancakes, and warm maple syrup wafted on the breeze, filling the inventor's nostrils and making him quite hungry.
"Aah! Now that smells divine. Surely I can add something that would make such a wonderful addition to the king's breakfast," he thought aloud.
"Toast. And jam. That's all the king requested," John reminded him. "Must you make things so complicated?"
"Nonsense," Thomas replied. "Just a few more parts is all..."
Soon, they passed the local bakery. Thomas eyed the freshly made cakes, muffins, and bagels eagerly.
"Surely adding such delicious baked goods can do no harm."
"Toast. T-O-A-S-T. And J-A-M, jam," John replied.
"It's only two or three more parts. What harm can they do?"
John knew he was defeated, for Thomas's mind was set to make an elaborate machine for the king. He silently listed the things he would need to make a machine the king actually wanted.
Finally, they reached the royal junkyard, and Thomas quickly proceeded to gather all the parts for his miraculous invention. John, however, just gathered the few parts he thought he would need in order to make the king something that would toast his bread in the morning.
Having completely filled his wheelbarrow, Thomas turned to John, quite satisfied.
"Now, the fun begins," he stated. "By the time I'm finished, the king will have a breakfast befitting someone of his stature: Scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages, pancakes with warm maple syrup, bagels, biscuits, and muffins.
John, however, just shrugged and set about making his bread toaster.
The next day, with their machines completed, the pair went before the king.
Thomas began to set up his complicated apparatus, while John simply handed the cook his toaster. Within minutes, the king had been served his warm toast and jam, while Thomas was only half-through assembling the complicated device.
"Just you wait, your majesty!" Thomas beamed. "Once I'm set up, you'll have the grandest breakfast around!"
"But will it make toast?" the king questioned.
"Toast?" Thomas replied. "I never thought of that, in my rush to make you the ideal breakfast."
"Then your machine is useless to me. Take it (and yourself) away. For this day, I now know who the true inventor is."
Sometimes, the simplest things are the best.
We often tend to add to our problems when we overthink things. It is only when we take a step back, and truly examine the challenges we face, that we realize that the true solution- the simplest solution- was staring us in the face all along.
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