Monday 22 March 2021

Then walking barefoot meant nothing at all

Let me tell a story

Contentment, they say is a state of happiness and satisfaction, we normally see in the context of being happy with what you have or rather what you have got. Maybe, it is more than that, sometimes, I cannot tell. For what you have got may not mean that much and what you have you might not have placed value on to begin to treasure it as a great possession, it is all contained in the mystery of contentment.

To some and to myself I have so admonished to a sense of gratitude that if I cannot have what I want, I should love and cherish what I have got. It is not about setting one’s sights low and or the lack of ambition. Some pursuits lead to exhaustion and unfulfilled dreams, big as the dreams may be.

The wisdom of the ancients

For we all have the woes and adversity that becomes the defining things of our storied existence, then set against the tale of another, our suffering in all the ways that it affected us, is small in comparison.

Whilst, watching the military investigation television series NCIS, there was an episode I had watched some years ago that I appeared on that occasion to have missed hearing an aphorism that led me down the search for its provenance until it brought me to the wisdom of the ancients, having passed through many attributions including that of Helen Keller took me to 13th Century Persia and a moment of deep reflection inspiring this blog.

The little is great indeed

I never lamented about the vicissitudes of time or complained of the turns of fortune except on the occasion when I was barefooted and unable to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of Kufah with a sore heart and beheld a man without feet I offered thanks to the bounty of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes and recited:

A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated man
Less valuable than a blade of fresh grass on the table
And to him who has no means nor power
A burnt turnip is a roasted fowl.

Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di Shirazi [Gulistan of Sa'di: Chapter III Story 19]

A paraphrase of the above quote in all its context is attributed to Helen Keller as “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

Touched by amazing lives

I was in primary school when I learnt about Helen Keller, she had only been gone 6 years, another story that had such a profound effect on my impressionable mind was that of John Brown, the abolitionist, and who can forget the Harpers Ferry raid and the marching song with the refrain, His soul is marching on? But I digress.

For years, I mourned the loss of love; for he had died, and then I realised, I was alive to love again. In the same vein, for the pain, I have felt and the many sorrows indeed, the greatest thing about being alive is the spirit of hope and possibility, for in whatever situation we might be in, opportunity abounds for gratitude and thankfulness, when we count our blessings, naming them one by one, and that is what contentment is all about. The wisdom of the ancients is indeed timeless.

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