The Finish Line

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a king. He decided to go for a hunt in the jungle. Unfortunately, during the hunt the king got separated from his horsemen and lost his way.

As night fell, the king began looking for a safe place to sleep. Suddenly he saw light coming out from a small hut in the distance.

Upon reaching there, he found it belonged to a poor man named Joe.

Joe welcomed the king inside his hut. To the best of his ability Joe made the night stay as comfortable for the king as was possible within his limited means.

The next morning, the grateful king said to Joe – “I am very happy with you. Ask for whatever you wish and I shall grant it to you.”

Joe was elated. He could see his life taking a magical turn. He said with folded hands – “O mighty king. I wish to become a wealthy landowner.”

“Very well,” said the king. “As a gesture of ‘thank you’ this is what I offer to you – Go to the most fertile lands of my kingdom. And as much land as you can cover on foot from morning till evening, will be yours. BUT – there’s a condition to my generous offer: Wherever you start from in the morning, you’ll have to return to the same spot by sundown.”

Joe happily agreed. He was beside himself with joy. He was already feeling like a rich man.

The next morning, he reached the fertile lands of the kingdom and began running. He ran past all the rich paddy fields boasting proudly to himself – “This is mine now. All this is mine now. I am rich. God, What a windfall!”

Joe ran and ran all morning. He didn’t even stop to eat. Or to drink water. All he cared about was how much land he could cover in one day. By afternoon, his logical mind told him – “Turn back Joe. That’s enough. This much land is enough for us.”

But did Joe listen to his own advice? Not at all. Instead, he sprinted even faster; past lush green fields, past flowering gardens and past gurgling streams.

He felt absolutely thrilled at the thought of becoming the lord of all those fabulous lands.

Suddenly, Joe realized – only a couple of hours remained to sundown. And he was miles away from the starting point! With this jolting realization, Joe desperately turned and now began running towards the starting point.

He tried to speed up. But alas, in his greed to cover as much land as possible, Joe had eaten no food during the day. There wasn’t enough strength left in his legs. Still, Joe plowed on courageously.

Then thirst began bothering him too. He was growing weaker by the minute. Also, more and more wretched and hopeless. He had been running non-stop since daybreak without replenishing his strength.

Gathering all his might, Joe made a final dash to reach his destination. His muscles ached. His chest burned from within. He was breathless. He could taste blood in his mouth. But all he could think was – “O my God! I must run fast. Otherwise I’m going to lose all my hard won land. All my rich rice fields! All my beautiful gardens! I will NOT let anyone or anything stand between me and my riches.”

Joe saw his starting point loom ahead. With fresh hope and glee in his heart, once again he ran towards it with all his might. The sun was just minutes away from setting.

Like a crazed human, Joe dashed towards the finish line; Reached it. And dropped down dead.

Thoughts For Deep Reflection:

  1. Do you think Joe was right in accepting the king’s offer? Why?
  2. In your opinion, what was Joe’s fatal mistake that ultimately led to his death?
  3. What advice would you give to Joe if, supposing, you were running alongside him that day?
  4. Close your eyes. Imagine you are Joe. And God is the king. Just like Joe was asked by the king to cover as much land as possible in one day, God asks you to cover as many days as possible in one lifetime. How would you pass your lifetime – (a) mindlessly, just like Joe ran greedily and thoughtlessly or (b) meaningfully – with each day giving you maximum joy?
  5. Which activities give you maximum joy? Write down all those activities.
  6. Do you think you spend enough time each day, doing these activities and thereby living joyfully? Or are you putting them away in your ‘someday’ box?
  7. Death is a certainty. How would you like to arrive at your finish line? – (a) Dropping down dead with stress and exhaustion, just like Joe or (b) celebrating with peace and satisfaction in your heart.

“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.” Seneca

Your Key Takeaways:

  • You have only one life to live.
  • If not lived carefully and mindfully, it appears to be much shorter than it actually is. This only leads to regret in the end.
  • It doesn’t take much for us, humans, to feel happy. Dance. Music. Loved ones. Travel. Reading. Laughter. Sleep. Meditation. Hobby.
  • But for some mysteriously baffling reason, we do not allow ourselves these simple pleasures of life.
  • We’d rather run madly from one day to the next and then drop down dead one day rather than feel the deep joy of living our life – a wonderful gift from The Divine.

Wishing you Inner Peace & Love.

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