Read this: a quick life lesson in letting go
No, you haven’t clicked on the Oprah website by mistake. It’s just that I spotted this in the New York Times earlier this week and immediately told my sister, my mum and my cleaner about it, so definitely felt it was a Muddy must-share!
It’s an excerpt from a book called Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, about a wise panda called Stillwater who befriends three children and tells them some beautiful ancient stories (‘with a slight panda accent’) in order to teach them some valuable life lessons.
The NY Times columnist who quotes it, Carl Richards, actually writes for the money section and I read his column regularly (here’s why you should always spend the money on the good boots!) especially because a lot of his articles relate not just to money, but to life lessons in general. He is in fact more of a Zen-like panda than he probably realises.
And this week’s column, The Cost of Holding On, is definitely one of his broader musings. The excerpt he quotes really did stop me in my tracks and I’ve since bought the picture book the story is taken from as a result. Anyway, have a read, it’s really short but really powerful.
Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.
The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.
As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”
“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”
Brilliant isn’t it? I can think of at least half a dozen things that happened to me today alone that I’m still holding onto – cross words with my youngest mudlet this morning, a stressy email I got, a mild road rage incident… And if I think back weeks, months, even years into the past, there are definitely some things I should have put down long ago, and holding onto them, and the anger, frustration and resentment that comes with them, is probably affecting my health and my happiness.
The list (if we let it) can go on and on, so this is just a simple reminder to let go. Yes, I do realise a certain Disney movie has already been there and made a very irritating song about it, but I much prefer the panda.