Saturday, November 14, 2015

QotD - "You must know that this, too, shall pass"

Ring I ordered from Etsy after reading this story
(it has since been lost)
I must admit this year I put aside my creative interests and focused on the amazing opportunity I received when I started a new job last year. But, recently I realized I missed writing and sharing. This week the world was rocked once again at the hands of terrorists who took the lives of those in Beirut and Paris. Our hearts break for those affected and others may have wounds reopen remembering tragedies they have lived whether in New York or Boston or any other corner of the world where lives are unjustly claimed. And so we come together and begin to heal. This reminds of a story...

Many moons ago I worked for a publishing organization whose newsroom had the best perk I have ever enjoyed: a nook of books we could help ourselves too. Most of these were advance review copies that were sent by publishing companies in hopes of having a review published. Occasionally I would browse, and, one day, Jorge Bucay's "Let me Tell you a Story" was one of those gems that caught my eye. And here I share with you one of the many stories Dr. Bucay shares with us via his sessions with his patient Demian.

The Bipolar King*

As soon as I started talking, I realized I was racing, going a mile a minute. I felt euphoric. I was speaking to Jorge, giving him a rundown of all of the things I'd done that week. 
As sometimes happened, I felt invincible: triumphant, in love with life. I was giving Tubs (his nickname for Jorge) my plans for the coming days and felt full of vim and vigor.
Tubs smiled happily, with a complicit air.
I got the feeling, as always, that my frame of mind was something he had shared, no matter what frame of mind that was. So sharing my joy with Jorge was just one more reason to be happy. Everything was coming up roses and I was full of ideas. If I'd have two lives to live, it wouldn't have given me enough time to do everything I had planned.
"Can I tell you a story?" he asked.
I must confess it was a struggle but I managed to stop talking.

  Once upon a time these was a king who ruled a far-off land.
He was a good king, but he had a problem: this king had two personalities.
  On some days, he'd rise exultant, euphoric, gleeful. From early in the morning, those days seemed marvelous. His palace gardens looked more beautiful. His servants, for some strange reason, became friendlier and more efficient.
  At breakfast, he was convinced that in his kingdom they milled the best flour and grew the best fruit.
  On those sort of days, the king lowered taxes, shared the wealth, granted favors and legislated  for the peace and well-being of the elderly. On these sort of days, the king consented to all of the requests his friends and subjects made.
  There were, however, other sort of days, too.
  Those were black days. From early in the morning, he knew he'd have preferred to sleep in. But by the time he realized this, it was already too late and sleep had abandoned him.
  No matter how he tried, he couldn't understand why his servants were in such bad moods; they didn't serve him well. The sun annoyed him more than the rain. His food wasn't hot enough and his coffee was cold. The mere idea of receiving visitors in his chamber made his head throb.
  On those days, the king thought about the promises he had made in other times and felt panic when he wondered how he could fulfill them. Those were the days when the king announced tax hikes, seized lands, imprisoned his opponents...
  Fearful of both the present and the future, haunted by the mistakes of the past, on those days he enacted laws against his people and the most common word out of his mouth was ''no''.
  Aware of the problems that these mood swings led to, the king gathered together all of the wise men, wizards and consultant in his kingdom and held a meeting.
  "Gentlemen," he said, "all of you have to know about my mood swings. All of you have benefitted from my euphoria and suffered from my anger. But the one who suffers most is me, because every day I have to undo what I did when I saw things in another light.
  "Gentlemen, I need you to work together to find a cure for me, be it spell or potion, that will keep me from being so absurdly optimistic that I'm unaware of the risks I run, and from getting so ridiculously pessimistic that I oppress and hurt those I love."
  The wise men accepted the challenge, and for several weeks, they all worked on the king's problem. However, no alchemy, no spell, no magic herbs were able to provide a solution to the matter at hand.
  So the advisors appeared before the king and confessed their failure.
  That night the king wept.
  The following morning, a strange visitor requested an audience. He was a mysterious man with 
dark skin, dressed in a worn tunic that had at one time been white.
  "Your Majesty," said the man, bowing, "where I come from, I have heard of your woes and your sorrow. I have come to offer you the solution."
  And bowing his head, he approached the king with a little leather box.
  The king, both surprised and hopeful, opened it and looked inside. And all that was there was a silver ring.
  "Thank you," the king said enthusiastically. "Is it a magic ring?"
  "Indeed it is," replied the traveller, "but it only works its magic if you wear it on your finger. Every morning, as soon as you rise, you must read the ring's inscription, and remember those words each time you see the ring on your finger."
  So the king took the ring and read aloud:

"You must know that this, too, shall pass"

It may be the fact I stumbled upon this lovely collection of stories after the Boston bombing which made me look back at this story after reflecting on this week's tragedies. But, the thing is, whether the king of this story represents the world, which every day appears to be different, or your boss, friend, lover or even yourself, this is a gentle reminder to ground ourselves in today and remember everything is passing. 

Much love to all those hurting around the world.

*The above story in its entirety is an excerpt from Let Me Tell You a Story: A New Approach to Healing through the Art of Storytelling Paperback (August 6, 2013) by Jorge Bucay. Available at Amazon. For more snippets from this book check out this blog also available in spanish "Dejame que te cuente(Recuentos para Damián)" in full pdf here

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