Having eyes, see ye not?
The legend is told of a wise and powerful guru who promised a maiden a rare and valuable gift if she would walk straight through a field of corn and, without pausing, going backward, or wandering, select the largest and ripest ear.
She passed by many magnificent ones, but was so eager to get the largest and most perfect that she kept on without plucking any.
As she continued walking, the ears she passed were successively smaller and more stunted.
Finally they became so small that she was ashamed to select any of them. Not being allowed to go backward, she came out the other side without any, thus losing out on the gift.*
The legend reminds me of the man whose lifelong dream was to sail the Mediterranean Sea on a cruise ship and to wander through the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul.
He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, which he lived on every day.
He watched with longing as the other passengers worked out in the gym, played miniature golf, swam in the pool, and enjoyed other activities. He envied those who went to movies and shows.
His mouth watered as he saw passengers gorging themselves on the amazing food served by crew members.
He was able to see the cities he’d dreamed of, but he spent most of his journey cramped in his cabin, nibbling his meager stores of food.
On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending.
“Well,” he stammered, ashamed, “none of them, actually. I don’t have enough money.”
The crewman laughed good naturedly, “Sir, all of the parties are included in your fare, along with food, entertainment, and all the activities you find on the ship.”**
I wonder: How many ripe, golden moments, bursting with life and flavor, have I passed by in the pursuit of more, bigger, better?
How am I like the people Christ chided, “Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?”
How often have I looked on with envy at people enjoying toys when no manmade toy on earth can compare with the dazzling beauty of a rainbow, the spontaneous, unrestrained giggle of a child?
How often have I looked forward in breathless anticipation to buying a new toy while taking for granted a sincere “I love you” spoken by my incredible goddess of a wife?
When I look in the mirror, why do I bemoan my receding hairline rather than marvel at the miracle of eyes that can see in the mirror in the first place?
My beautiful daughters, brimming with wonder, frequently bring me their artwork: heart-warmingly grotesque stick figures with wide, uneven, toothy grins scrawled by tiny, miraculous fingers. The good father in me gushes with praise. The practical realist in me promptly finds a convenient time to tuck them under the top layer of papers in my garbage can.
On my deathbed, which will I ache for: scraps of green paper printed with faces of presidents, which I wouldn’t dream of throwing away, or those precious remnants of childhood, which I discard so easily?
In his enlightening and refreshing book, A Touch of Wonder, Arthur Gordon wisely notes,
“Those who appreciate life the most are given the most to appreciate.”
Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that those who appreciate life find, recognize, and enjoy the most to appreciate, no matter how much they’re given or what they own.
As long as we focus on what’s missing, we can never recognize what we already have. And what we already have is everything we need to live a life chock full of wonder, fascination, gratitude, and bliss.
Abundance is more of a mindset than a condition. It’s more about recognizing what we already enjoy than acquiring what we don’t have.
Living the good life takes more gratitude than money, more humble appreciation than self-aggrandizing opportunity.
As you journey through the fields of life, earnestly searching for things of value, always remember that the journey itself is the most valuable gift of all.
As I was writing this, my six-year-old, Avery, brought me an invitation to a party. I have things to do and deadlines to meet. But a ripe moment has been presented to me. So if you’ll excuse me…
While I’m partying with my adorable girls, I suggest you watch this video. Put away your phone. Close your Facebook. Close your eyes, bask in the music, let it wash over you and think in reverence and awe, “Yes, Father, how great Thou art, and how miraculous and beautiful is the life You have given me.”
*The legend of the guru and the maiden is told in Orison Swett Marden’s book, Pushing to the Front.
**The story of the man on the cruise ship was told by Deiter F. Uchtdorf.