John Cage lived alone in a log cabin in Walden, reciting one minute stories every minute of every night for 1,000 nights while he slept.
One day a professor of mycology came and met him whilst doing some field research. After a meal of beans, rice and vegetables grown from Cage’s garden, the professor said, “Now that we have spoken I see that you are a man of learning and intelligence. I am here studying mushrooms whose properties may be useful in furthering our medical science and curing disease. When knowledge like yours can give so much back, why serve only yourself out here alone?”
He remained quite still considering these words for many hours after the professor had left, until, quite suddenly he stood up, took his bowl, filled it with the water left over from the cooking, carried it down to the stream and poured it in.
Satisfied, he said, “Now I have given back.”