Friday, January 06, 2006

"Do you have a COW?"

I remember song lyrics, dialogue from movies, great jokes and meaningful stories.

I read this Russian fable about 20 years ago when I was in college and it has always stuck with me...

A Russian woman lived with her husband & two children in a very small hut. Her husband's parents lost their home & she had to take them in. This was unbearable!

In desperation, she went to the village wise man, whom she knew had solved many, many problems. "What should I do?" she begged.

"Do you have a COW?" asked the wise man. "Yes," she replied. Then bring her into the hut too. And come back and see me in a week," said the wise man.

A week later she was back. "The cow has made things worse! This is utterly unbearable," she said.

"Do you have any CHICKENS?" asked wise man. "Yes," she replied. "What about them?"

"Bring them into the hut too, " he said, "And come back and see me in another week."

"Now you're utterly out of your mind," she said. Nevertheless, still awed by his reputation, she did as he asked.

A week later she returned. "This is absolutely impossible," she said. "Our home is a mess."

"All right," said the wise man, "take out the chickens."

The next week she reported that without the chickens it was definitely better, but still a miserable situation.

"All right," said the wise man, "Now take out the cow and that will settle your problem."

And it did. Without the chickens & cow, the woman, her husband, the children, and his two parents got along quite peacefully.

Suddenly everything is relative. As is often the case, until things get worse, we don't recognize how good we really have it.

Once after a concert he played with a broken violin string, Itzak Perlman said, "Sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."

Complaining about how bad things are very seldom encourages me to work harder, get along with others or succeed where I am.

When I remember to be grateful and work with what I have - then I am able to approach life from a better perspective.

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