The Troubles Tree
The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
After opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterwards, he walked me to my car. We passed the tree, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again.”
“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”
The Most Important Lesson
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade.
“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
Fate Is in Your Own Hands
Once upon a time, there was a general who was leading his army into battle against an enemy ten times the size of his own. Along the way to the battlefield, the troops stopped by a small temple to pray for victory. The general held up a coin and told his troops, “I am going to implore the gods to help us crush our enemy. If this coin lands with the heads on top, we’ll win. If it’s tails, we’ll lose. Our fate is in the hands of the gods. Let’s pray wholeheartedly.”
After a short prayer, the general tossed the coin. It landed with the heads on top. The troops were overjoyed and went into the battle with high spirit. Just as predicted, the smaller army won the battle. The soldiers were exalted, “It’s good to have the gods on our side! No one can change what they have determined.” “Really?” The general show them the coin–both sides of it were heads.
The Attitude of Happiness
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.
As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.
“I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it … It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on a new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away … just for this time in my life.”
Kind Gestures are Never Futile
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out,
“Good morning! What are you doing?”
The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said,
“It made a difference for that one.”
A Sioux Indian Story of Creation
The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.”
The eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.”
The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”
The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”
“No. They will go there too.”
The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”
The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there.”
Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, “Put it inside of them.”
And the Creator said, “It is done.”
The Final Exam
A professor stood before his class of 20 senior organic biology students, about to hand out the final exam. “I want to say that it’s been a pleasure teaching you this semester. I know you’ve all worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school after summer. So that no one gets their GP messed up because they might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt-out of the final exam today will receive a “B” for the course.”
There was much rejoicing amongst the class as students got up, passed by the professor to thank him and sign out on his offer. As the last taker left the room, the professor looked out over the handful of remaining students and asked,
“Anyone else? This is your last chance.”
One final student rose up and took the offer.
The professor closed the door and took attendance of those students remaining.
“I’m glad to see you believe in yourself,” he said. “You all have A’s.”