“A simple life costs less.” -selected
Leo Tolstoy has this story about a Bakshir couple who searched for happiness for half a century and finally unraveled what it actually entailed to feel it.
Elias married Sham Shemagi, as arranged by his father just before the latter died. He inherited merely 7 mares, 2 cows, and a score of sheep. But they worked hard, and their industriousness earned them 200 horses, 150 heads of cattle, and 1,200 sheeps after 35 years.
Elias became renowned for his wealth and generosity. He entertained friends and acquaintances in feasts of mutton, kurmiss, tea and sherbet. He was admired and envied.
Elias had 3 children. When they were poor, the 2 sons looked after their flocks. When they grew rich, they got spoiled and took to drinking. One figured in a brawl and was killed. The other married an aggressive woman, had disagreements with his father and settled far away. His substantial share of the inheritance reduced Elias’ wealth considerably.
Soon after, string of tragedies happened. Sheep died from disease. Crop harvest failed. Cattle froze in winter. Horses were stolen. Property dwindled. Elias wealth weakened.
By the time he was 70, he was completely broke. His only daughter had also died. Except for the clothes they had on and a cup, Elias and his wife had nothing and nobody else. Their neighbor, Muhammad Shah, pitied them and hired them to labor for him.
Elias tended the garden and fed the cattle. Sham-Shemagi milked the mares and made kurmiss. Though uneasy at first, they eventually got used to it. Having been masters themselves, they managed well, worked hard and were appreciated.
One day, Muhammad Shah was visited by relatives. After a meal prepared by Elias and his wife, he introduced them and related their past prosperity and present misfortunes.
The relatives did hear of their prominence before. Out of curiosity, one of them asked Elias how he felt about his sad plight.
Elias prodded his wife, whom he said had her heart in her tongue, to answer.
And Sham-Shemagi obliged: “My old man and I lived for 50 years seeking happiness and not finding it. It is only now, these last 2 years, since we had nothing left and lived as laborers, that we have found real happiness. “
The guests were incredulous. They scrutinized their faces and found their smiles genuine. “What does happiness consists for you?” they asked.
Sham-Shemagi explained that when they were rich, she and Elias had so many cares and did not have time to talk to one another, or to think of their souls or to pray to God. When they had visitors, they had to prepare delicious food and good presents lest they spoke ill of them. They were on the look out for laborers who were goofing off or stealing while they too, wanted to squeeze the most from their workers.
At night, they lay awake fearing a wolf might kill a fowl or calf, thieves might steal the horses or the ewes overlie their lambs. They would get up again to see that all is well.
There would always be one thing or another to attend to. They often disagreed with each other and with the children. They were filled with worries and disputes, there was neither rest nor serenity.
“And now?” the relative pressed on.
“My husband and I awake in the morning with a loving word to each other. We live in peace with nothing to quarrel about. We have no other except to serve our master best, that he may profit from our work. We have a place to sleep in, food to eat, fuel to burn and warm our bodies, and our fur cloak on our back. We also have time to talk, to think of our souls and to pray.
The guests shook their heads and laughed.
But Elias added: “Do not laugh, friends. This is no matter for jesting. It is the truth of life. We were also foolish at first and wept at the loss of our wealth. But now God has shown us the truth.
They ceased laughing and became thoughtful.
Moral lessons of this story:
– The simpler the system the less it breaks.
-The simpler the system the easier it is to fix.
-A simple life allows lots of room for life to flow…opportunities.
-A simple life allows you to feel and hear what is really going on.
-A simple life requires less energy.
-A simple life allows you to tell the difference the truly important and everything else.
-Simplicity is attractive. Complexity puts many people off.
-Simplicity greatly reduces the need dependence on adrenaline.
Keep on living. Life is beautiful.
God bless you as you bless God!
Preparing for Milo 42K Marathon this coming July 2010.