An ancient legend says that a famous king decided to gather his leading wise men and scholars in a conclave to request a favor.
“I just brought a large ring from my latest conquest” – said the king – “It is very valuable and it gives me the possibility to save something even more valuable, inside. I need you, at the end of the day to give me a phrase that is the wisest of all. I want to arrive at a conclusion of wisdom and then write it on a tiny roll. Then, I want to keep that phrase in my ring. And if one day, misfortune happened and I’m in the middle of a deep crisis, I will open my ring, and I’m sure that sentence would help me at the worst time of my life.”
So the wise men spent the day discussing which phrase can sum up all the knowledge that no human had ever heard. When the night fell, one of the wise men of the kingdom, on behalf of all others, approached the king with a sentence written on a small scroll.
“Here it is, your Majesty. Simply store it in your ring and read when a crisis hits your life and your kingdom. This is what we have decided.”
The king kept the paper in his ring and forgot all about it.
Within a few years, the kingdom was ransacked by his enemies, and the palace turned to rubble. The king managed to escape from the shadows and hidden among some rocks outside the devastated court. There, watching at a cliff, he considered the possibility of suicide by jumping, before falling into enemy hands. It was when he remembered he still retained the ring. The king decided to open it, unrolled the small paper and it read: “This too shall pass.” The king quietly smiled, and he mustered all the encouragement to hide in a cave, in the dark, until he was no longer in danger.
The legend says that twenty years after the king had recovered all its glory, by way of new battles and conquests, the bitter spell was left behind. Now, the king was returning triumphant from the war, amid cheers and claps from a multitude that gave him an ovation.
One of the ancient sages who walked alongside the royal carriage, an old man, whispered to the king: “Your Majesty, I think today should also look again inside your ring. – Now? What for? I’m not in the middle of a crisis, but rather the opposite” -replied the king.
The sentence was written not only for the tough times but also when you think that everything good seems to be last for eternity. The king, amidst applause, opened the ring and he read: “This too shall pass”, and discovered at that moment, that he felt the same peace which he had when he was about to kill himself. The same calm, the same restraint completely overwhelmed him.
One day he discovered that the phrase that had been delivered was wise to read on defeat and above all, in times of victory.
I would have given anything for someone to tell me this fantastic story when I was much younger. I always imagined I had a time machine (like Spielberg saga “Back to the Future”) I wanted to travel to the past to find myself when I was about … ten or eleven. I would go to the past and tried to locate that child I once was. Look at him face-to-face and say something like: “Do not ask me who I am, because in any case, you are not going to believe me. I just came to give you a phrase I want you to keep forever: “This too shall pass.” Enjoy the adolescence that lies ahead, enjoy every moment you can, do not miss the now, just to be worried about the future. Everything will be fine, I promise. Someday, your own fears, complex and low self-esteem will be history. In a few years, you will laugh off your problems today. Your life will be resolved sooner than you think. Relax, there’s nothing wrong.”
I was tempted to do the same. Whenever I tell this story, a tear escapes from listening to myself, mainly because most of us have some form of pity for that child we once were.
Somehow, it is a sort of paraphrase of many biblical promises. The Lord tells us not to be anxious for tomorrow, not to worry about what will come, to enjoy God’s new mercies every morning. But for some reason, the anxiety we had, played a prank on us and accidentally, stole some valuable bits of wisdom that we were meant to have.
In these years, I’ve been despondent, have experienced moments of great distress, and on the other hand, encountered great moments and experienced awesome memories. Good or bad times passed. Now I think differently, I do not like to anchor myself to crises or victories. I do not dwell on harboring criticism or applause. For that reason, this phrase is my daily review.
In a way, I decided that I will not dwell on spending the rest of my life thinking about what will I do in the future to the point where I become anxious about it. I do not want to live thinking that last year was the brightest moment in my life. Or that my bliss will be in the summer or spring. I do not want to think that the highlight of my life will be once I graduate or when I’m traveling to this or that country. Or when I retire or when my kids grow up. Happiness is not a destination, Happiness is a journey. It is an ideal place where one gets a good day, but we’re traveling a path little by little, with small fragments of today.
When I was young, I used to get anxious about what career I was going to have, what wife was I going to have? Where was I going to live? One day with tears in my eyes I opened my heart to my father about this, and he said: “Drew, imagine you are a car, and you are traveling to the beach at night. Imagine you have your lights on and you can see the road a few meters away from you. You have enough vision to dodge the holes in the street and continue your journey to where you want to go. In the same way is the vision that God gives you, you only can see ahead just barely enough to keep moving, because those lights will not reach ALL the way to the beach, so as long as you keep on moving, your vision will continue to guide you.”
At every place where God leads me, I try to dedicate a message to motivate people to enjoy the ever-present now. But above all things, that anxiety of what we still do not have or the memories of what we have lived, not steal the thunder of what we already have in our hands, which is never little nor insignificant.
For my part, I am more than happy with what God has given me over the years. But I have very clear, above all things that even “This too shall pass”.