As I grow older, allegories pop into my mind with more frequency. Stuff I used to take at face-value now appears so profound that to ignore its application seems negligent. In particular, I’m referring to old jokes, sayings and parables. Many jokes have extreme wisdom within them, but it’s hard to see it when your drink is pouring out of your nose. Recently, an old joke popped into my head and it hit me how true it was. I suppose that kind of recognition happens with age because we’ve had the time and experience to see things repeat themselves. While youth imbues us with naïve optimism, age offers the wisdom of experience. To see what I mean, here’s the joke.
A husband and wife were concerned for one of their children. They had twin boys who were vastly different in character. One boy was always miserable and whiny. Nothing ever made him happy for long and he assigned criticism and blame to everything but himself: he was a victim of fortune. The other boy, however, was like a ray of sunshine. No matter what happened to him, he’d make it work. If he got lemons, he made lemonade.
In desperation, the parents decided on an experiment to see if they could affect their disposition. The father considered an extreme plan. It would be all or nothing. The mum took the boys out the next day while the father prepared the scene. In the late evening, the mother and the boys arrived home and quickly rushed to their respective bedrooms.
The miserable boy walked into a bedroom filled with every toy and game he’d ever desired. His elation didn’t last long though. After a few hours, he came out of the room bored and close to tears. His parents asked what the problem was, after all, he had everything he wanted. The kid said that while some toys were great, he now had too many which would take up too much room. He now needed a bigger room and more time to keep it clean. Some toys were part of a larger collection which he didn’t have. Not only that, but his friends had the toys he didn’t have. The whole thing was a mess.
His parents were dumbfounded! They then turned their attention to the other boy who surprisingly hadn’t come out of his room yet. Opening the door they saw the large 1-metre high inflatable pool filled to the brim with horse dung that the father had prepared earlier. Looking around the room they couldn’t see their son anywhere. With a gasp for air, their son pops his head out from within the excrement wearing a diving mask and snorkel. He’s covered in the brown stench when the parents ask him what the hell he’s thinking.
He replies: “I know there’s a pony in here somewhere!”
It isn’t what you have that makes you happy because things come and go and there’s always more to get. They’re a means to an end. What makes you happy, what gets you up in the morning, is the dream. That expectation of a future something and your personal journey at attaining it is the juice of life. It doesn’t matter what it is: education, money, love, career, your survival. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the goal that matters. Keep dreaming of something to aim at and achieve, and your mind and body will find the will to keep going—even if you’re up to your neck in shit.