Life has been busy and eventful and so, it feels like Wednesday just went by, before another one appeared!
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom story is from China and one of my all-time favorites—simple yet profound with a wonderful lesson. If you have/know kids, please do share it with them.
The Long Spoons
Once upon a time (don’t you love it when a story begins like that?) there was a little girl. One night she had a dream where an angel appeared and said, “Would you like to see the most beautiful place on earth?”
Of course, the girl was excited. “Sure,” she said, “Where is it? How can I reach there?”
Said the angel, “That’s easy. Close your eyes and I’ll take you there. But on one condition. First, we must visit the ugliest place on earth.”
Puzzled, the little girl asked, “Why? Why would I want to see the ugliest place on earth?”
The angel replied, “If you want to understand beauty, you must sometimes see some ugliness. Now close your eyes and let’s go!”
The little girl closed her eyes. Music started to play. When she opened her eyes, she looked around and saw a large room, beautifully decorated. Chandeliers sparkled from the ceiling and a gorgeous carpet covered the floor. A band of musicians played soft music. Entertainers presented a lovely show, comprising of clowns, magicians, and jugglers.
Then the girl noticed a massive table in the center of the room. Around it sat people—men, women, and children. All were resplendently dressed. Then she saw the table, piled with delicious food of different varieties. Just the aroma made her mouth water.
She asked the angel, “How is this the ugliest place on earth?”
The angel nudged her to look closely.
When the girl turned back to see, although the room was fabulous and there was lots of food, the people around the table were malnourished and had miserable expressions on their face.
The girl asked the angel, “Why are they sad and unhappy?”
The angel urged the girl to look again.
Now, the girl looked even closer and saw that while all were served food, the only way they could eat it was with some very long spoons. The handles were so long that if they got food on the spoon, it wouldn’t reach their mouths.
The girl was sad and started to cry. “Oh! The spoons are so long. No wonder they look miserable. They’re all hungry!” she said.
The angel replied, “Yes. Isn’t that sad? Come, I will now take you to the
most beautiful place on earth! Close your eyes again.”
The little girl closed her eyes. Music played. When she opened her eyes, she saw—why—the place looked exactly the same! Beautiful décor, musicians, entertainers, huge table, delicious food, people. And—you guessed it—long spoons!
“This is the same place!” she exclaimed.
“Look closely,” advised the angel.
Now the little girl noticed that even though the place was identical to the ugliest place, something was certainly different. The people! They were happy and looked well-fed. They were smiling.
Then she realized why.
They were using their long spoons to reach across the table the feed each other.
The girl clapped her hands in joy and said, “Oh angel! They are feeding each other!”
“Yes,” smiled the angel. “And that, little one, is the only difference between the ugliest and the most beautiful place on earth. Any place becomes the most beautiful place on earth when people help and take care of each other.”
Isn’t that lovely?
The world’s a much better place when we support one another and are kind.
You know what they say. No man is an island.
We need friends, we need people, we need relationships.
Relationships need not be transactional.
It is perfectly okay to give without expecting anything in return, simply for the joy of giving.
#WednesdayWisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, and humor.
Amazing story….awesome message!
Thank you, Vinay. The simplicity of it is wonderful.
I still remember the first time you showed me Lao Tsu’s “Thirty spokes are joined in the wheel’s hub” I still find that most fascinating.
Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspiring Stories of Women In Business
Thanks for this piece of wisdom.
I have heard it before. But, it is always worth the retelling.
Really loved the story and most definitely telling this one to my brats.
Oh this is so damn beautiful 🙂
Such a beautiful story. .In today’s world where everyone is busy in there own, this story sets a perfect message
Oh, such a lovely story, Vidya! Will remember this one always!
Thank you so much!
What a beautiful story this is! We need support and love, friends and relations. It is so beautiful when we take care of one another. Lovely message, Vidya. 🙂
This is beautiful, Vidya. What I needed to hear today. When we help each other, we all benefit. Thank you.
Love this story! I haven’t heard it before. Just as I was reading that the spoons were too long for people to feed themselves, I thought: Why don’t they just feed each other? That would make it more fun too! Yes, we can never do as much alone as we can together, my birthday sister!
What a beautiful story. The first place – the ugly place – reminds me of the idea of “hungry ghosts” in Buddhism. Hungry ghosts also can never be satisfied.
I remember this story Vidya..I think it was first attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok as he tried to explain the difference between heaven and hell. It’s a wonderful parable for how in the helping of others, we too are helped. You explained it so sweetly in your article. 🙂