The Hospital Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.  One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to receive his daily medical treatment.  His bed was next to the room's only window.  The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.  The men talked for hours on end.  They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.  The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by the description of activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a beautiful lake.  Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.  Young lovers held hands and walked amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow.  Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.  As the man described his view from the window in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing through the park.  Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see the parade in his mind's eye, as the gentleman by the window developed a detailed picture with his descriptive words.

One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.  She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.  Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside.  Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.  He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.  To his surprise the window faced a brick wall.

The man called for the nurse and asked what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window.  The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.  She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

Author: Unknown


The Sword of Damocles

There once was a king named Dionysius who ruled in Syracuse, the richest city in Sicily. He lived in a fine palace where there were many beautiful and costly things, and he was waited upon by a host of servants who were always ready to do his bidding.

Naturally, because Dionysius had so much wealth and power, there were many in Syracuse who envied his good fortune. Damocles was one of these. He was one of Dionysius's best friends, and he was always saying to him, "How lucky you are! You have everything anyone could wish for. You must be the happiest man in the world."

One day Dionysius grew tired of hearing such talk. "Come now," he said, "do you really think I'm happier than everyone else?"

"But of course you are," Damocles replied. "Look at the great treasures you possess, and the power you hold. You have not a single worry in the world. How could life be any better?"

"Perhaps you would like to change places with me," said Dionysius.

"Oh, I would never dream of that," said Damocles. "But if I could only have your riches and your pleasures for one day, I should never want any greater happiness."

"Very well. Trade places with me for just one day, and you shall have them."

And so, the next day, Damocles was led to the palace, and all the servants were instructed to treat him as their master. They dressed him in royal robes, and placed on his head a crown of gold. He sat down at a table in the banquet hall, and rich foods were set before him. Nothing was wanting that could give him pleasure. There were costly wines, and beautiful flowers, and rare perfumes, and delightful music. He rested himself among soft cushions, and felt he was the happiest man in all the world.

"Ah, this is the life," he sighed to Dionysius, who sat at the other end of the long table. "I've never enjoyed myself so much."

And as he raised a cup to his lips, he lifted his eyes toward the ceiling. What was that dangling above him, with its point almost touching his head?

Damocles stiffened. The smile faded from his lips, and his face turned ashy pale. His hands trembled. He wanted no more food, no more wine, no more music. He only wanted to be out of the palace, far away, he cared no where. For directly above his head hung a sword, held to the ceiling by only a single horsehair. Its sharp blade glittered as it pointed right between his eyes. He started to jump up and run, but stopped himself, frightened that any sudden move might snap the thin thread and bring the sword down. He sat frozen to his chair.

"What is the matter, my friend?" Dionysius asked. "You seem to have lost your appetite."

"That sword! That sword!" whispered Damocles. "Don't you see it?"

"Of course I see it," said Dionysius. "I see it every day. It always hangs over my head, and there is always the chance someone or something may cut the slim thread. Perhaps one of my own advisors will grow jealous of my power and try to kill me. Or someone may spread lies about me, to turn people against me. It may be that a neighboring kingdom will send an army to seize this throne. Or I might make an unwise decision that will bring my downfall. If you want to be a leader, you must be willing to accept these risks. They come with the power, you see."

"Yes, I do see," said Damocles. "I see now that I was mistaken, and that you have much to think about besides your riches and fame. Please take your place, and let me go back to my own house."

And as long as he lived, Damocles never again wanted to change places, even for a moment, with the king.

Author: Famous story


The Stonecutter

There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day he passed a wealthy merchant’s house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering rock. “How powerful that rock is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a rock!”

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the rock?” he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.”

Author: A Chinese Folktale


The Giving Tree

Once upon a time, there lived a big mango tree. A little boy loved to come and play around it everyday. He climbed to the tree top, ate the mangoes, took a nap under the shadow… He loved the tree and the tree loved to play with him. Time went by, The little boy grew, and he no longer played around the tree.

One day, the boy came back tot eh tree with a sad look on his face. "Come and play with me," the tree asked the boy. "I am no longer a kid, I don't play around trees anymore." The boy replied, "I want toys. I need money to buy them." "Sorry, I don't have money… but you can pick all my mangoes and sell them so you have money." The boy was so excited. Je picked all the mangoes on the tree and left happily. The boy didn't come back. The tree was sad

Once upon a time, there lived a big mango tree. A little boy loved to come and play around it everyday. He climbed to the tree top, ate the mangoes, took a nap under the shadow… He loved the tree and the tree loved to play with him. Time went by, The little boy grew, and he no longer played around the tree.

One day, the boy came back to the tree with a sad look on his face. “Come and play with me,” the tree asked the boy. “I am no longer a kid, I don’t play around trees anymore.” The boy replied, “I want toys. I need money to buy them.” “Sorry, I don’t have money… but you can pick all my mangoes and sell them so you will have money.” The boy was so excited. He picked all the mangoes on the tree and left happily. The boy didn’t come back. The tree was sad.

One day, the boy grown into a man returned. The tree was so excited. “Come and play with me,” the tree said. “I don’t have time to play. I have to work for my family. We need a house for shelter. Can you help me?” “Sorry, I don’t have a house, but you can chop off my branches to build your house.” So the man cut all the branches off the tree and left happily. The tree was glad to see him happy but the boy didn’t come back afterward. The tree was again lonely and sad.

One hot summer day, the man returned and the tree was delighted. “Come and play with me!” The tree said. “I am sad and getting old. I want to go sailing to relax myself. Can you give me a boat?” “Use my trunk to build your boat. You can sail far away and be happy.” So the man cut the tree trunk to make a boat. He went sailing and didn’t come back for a long time.

Finally, the man returned after he had been gone for so many years. “Sorry, my boy, but I don’t have anything for you anymore. No more mangoes to give you.” The tree said. “I don’t have teeth to bite,” the man replied. “No more trunk for you to climb on.” “I am too old for that now,” the man said.“I really can’t give you anything, the only thing left is my dying roots,” the tree said with sadness.

“I don’t need much now, just a place to rest. I am tired after all these years,” the man replied. “Good! Old tree roots are the best place to lean on and rest. Come sit down with me and rest.” The boy sat down and the tree was glad and smiled.


If 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling


Drop a Pebble in the Water

Drop a pebble in the water:
just a splash, and it is gone; 
But there's half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on, 
Spreading, spreading from the center,
flowing on out to the sea. 
And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water:
in a minute you forget, 
But there's little waves a-flowing,
and there's ripples circling yet, 
And those little waves a-flowing
to a great big wave have grown; 
You've disturbed a mighty river
just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute it is gone;  
But there's half-a-hundred ripples    
circling on and on and on.      
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading        
from the center as they go,          
And there is no way to stop them,             
once you've started them to flow.              

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute you forget; 
But there's little waves a-flowing,
and there's ripples circling yet, 
And perhaps in some sad heart
a mighty wave of tears you've stirred, 
And disturbed a life was happy
ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
just a flash and it is gone; 
But there's half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on, 
Bearing hope and joy and comfort
on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume
of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
in a minute you forget;  
But there's gladness still a-swelling,    
and there's joy circling yet,      
And you've rolled a wave of comfort        
whose sweet music can be heard          
Over miles and miles of water             
just by dropping one kind word.

by James W. Foley


Trio

Coming up Buchanan Street, quickly, on a sharp winter evening

a young man and two girls, under the Christmas lights –

The young man carries a new guitar in his arms,

the girl on the inside carries a very young baby,

and the girl on the outside carries a chihuahua.

And the three of them are laughing, their breath rises

in a cloud of happiness, and as they pass

the boy says, ‘Wait till he sees this but!’

The chihuahua has a tiny Royal Stewart tartan coat like a teapot- holder,

the baby in its white shawl is all bright eyes and mouth like favours in a fresh sweet cake,

the guitar swells out under its milky plastic cover, tied at the neck

with silver tinsel tape and a brisk sprig of mistletoe.

Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm chihuahua!

The vale of tears is powerless before you.

Whether Christ is born, or is not born, you

put paid to fate, it abdicates

under the Christmas lights. Monsters of the year

go blank, are scattered back,

can’t bear this march of three.

– And the three have passed, vanished in the crowd

(yet not vanished, for in their arms they wind

the life of men and beasts, and music,

laughter ringing them round like a guard)

at the end of this winter’s day.

by Edwin Morgan


The Responsibility Poem

There was a most important job that needed to be done,
And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?

Anybody could have told you that Everybody knew
That this was something Somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; Anybody had the ability.
But Nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

It seemed to be a job that Anybody could have done,
If Anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
But since Everybody recognized that Anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that Somebody would.

But Nobody told Anybody that we are aware of,
That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And Nobody took it on himself to follow through,
And do what Everybody thought that Somebody would do.

When what Everybody needed so did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
And Everybody looked around for Somebody to blame.

Somebody should have done the job
And Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
What Anybody could have.

by Charles Osgood