Five short stories, five different perspectives. Each story carries in itself a lesson, but will they alter the way you feel about life? Read on, and share your thoughts with us!
“Dad, can you see? the trees are running behind us!”
The son looked up at his father, who smiled gently whilst gripping his hand. A couple sitting nearby glanced over at the 24-year-old with pitying expressions. With sudden enthusiasm, he spoke again:
“Dad, it’s so awesome! Even the clouds are running with us!”
By now, the couple had exhausted their manners and chimed in:
“Excuse me, why don’t you take your son to see the doctor?”
“We’ve just left”, replied the father; “My son has been blind since he was a child, and today he can see the world for the very first time.”
Everyone has their own story. Refrain from judgement, because the truth can sometimes surprise you.
An elephant stood alone, bound by one leg to a small peg in the ground using nothing but a thin piece of rope. The elephant could have escaped any time, but for some reason it stood obediently, unmoving.
An astounded onlooker asked the elephant’s owner for an explanation. He said:
“Since it was a baby I have chained the elephant with a rope. Back then, the rope was strong enough to prevent the elephant from escaping. Time passed by and the elephant gradually came to believe that it couldn’t get away. It has never tried to free itself.”
The same could be said for us. Sometimes we are deceived by our own false beliefs.
A wealthy merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the market. Shopping at the market was usually a lengthy ordeal, however after just a few minutes the servant returned home, white-faced and quivering with fear.
“Sir, I was pushed by a person in the crowds at the market. I turned to see, and that person was Death. He stared down at me, raised his hand and filled me with the most profound fear. Please give me a horse, for I need to escape from this city immediately! I will go to Samarra where Death will not be able to find me.”
Moments later, his desperate wish generously granted, the servant sped away on horseback towards Samarra.
The merchant, frightened yet intrigued, went to the market himself to question Death. He asked, with a shaking voice: “Death, tell me, why did you threaten my servant this morning?”
Death looked down with the same cold stare and replied: “I did not threaten him. I was merely surprised upon seeing him in Baghdad because I had told him I would see him in Samarra.”
Don’t give in to the temptation to run away; be brave and face your challenges!
A young man, curious about the world outside of his remote village, decided to leave on a voyage of discovery. He set off early one day but was soon stopped in his tracks by a fast-flowing river. A dark figure, shrouded in robes, waited by the riverside. Stepping closer, the young man came face to face with Death. Death spoke, in solemn tones:
“I have been waiting a long time for you. Listen carefully! Before sunrise tomorrow, my intention is to kill 50 men from your village. Now, return home with my warning.”
The young man, terrified, hastened home with these words ringing in his ears. Upon his return he regaled Death’s warning to the villagers.
The men of the village were so alarmed that they decided to stand watch the whole night through, to confront Death, should he truly appear.
Upon waking up the next day, the young man discovered that not 50 but rather 500 men had died in the night. He hurried back to the riverside in anger to question Death’s warning and request the safe return of the innocent men. Death spoke: “Foolish man, why do you come here?”
“You lied to me! You told me that you would kill 50 men, whereas 500 men lost their lives. What was their sin?”
“Withhold your blame; I killed 50 men, true to my word. The rest were killed by Fear.”
Fear can be even more devastating than Death.
In rural Africa, an anthropologist had just finished his study of a local tribe. Before leaving, he arranged a farewell party for the children whom he had become very fond of.
He filled a basket with candies and cakes, laid the basket under a tree and drew a chalk line on the dry ground. He asked the children to stand behind the line, and when they were signaled, whoever approached the basket first would win all of the goodies for themselves.
The anthropologist gave signal, all the children held hands and ran gleefully towards the tree. They touched the basket at the very same time, sat down together and each enjoyed an equal share of the tasty treats.
The anthropologist was shocked; this was not the behavior he expected from candy-craving children. He asked the children to explain their method:
“Ubuntu*, Sir, none of us can be happy when the rest of us are sad!”
The anthropologist stood still. He was humbled. After months of study, he had finally grasped the values of these compassionate people.
True happiness depends upon the happiness of those around us.
*Ubuntu is a Zulu concept and translates as ‘human’, ‘sharing’, and ‘loving’.