Hey guys! It’s Dad.
Today, although our home was empty, my head sure wasn’t. I was cleaning up the house after an often frantic weekday morning when I realized that I couldn’t seem to find peace in my head. I couldn’t seem to stop the constant thinking. I wanted to be “Present,” in the moment, but I kept thinking about choices I’d made, and if those choices were the best choices I could make. I just kept creating this stress and noise in my mind about thoughts and things of yesterday. Then it hit me. I remembered a story that I’d heard years and years ago. It’s the story of Two Monks and a Maiden. It goes something like this…
One day, hundreds of years ago, two monks were traveling through the forests and valleys of rural China, on a journey to a distant Buddhist temple on a mountaintop. These two monks had made a promise to Buddha (their God) to focus only on their spiritual growth, and not to be distracted by the desires of modern comforts, beautiful women, and other worldly things. In fact, they had taken an oath to not speak with, touch, or even look at women. They were to keep their focus at all times.
One monk was old and very wise. The other was young, enthusiastic, and eager to show the older, wiser monk how proper he could behave. This walk would take them several hours to complete, all spent in silence, thinking about the sights and sounds of their journey, and thinking about their faith; their spiritual growth.
After a couple of hours of silently hiking through the trails and villages, the two monks approached a small creek that, after days of heavy rains, had turned into a raging river. As they approached the river, they noticed a young woman on the side of the river. She needed to pass, but couldn’t possibly survive had she tried to cross the rushing river.
Without a moments hesitation, the tiny old monk offered his help. The young woman accepted his help, and the old monk lifted her with all of his might to carry her across the river. The young monk was in shock. He couldn’t understand how the older, wiser monk could break his vow; his promise.
Several moments later, the old monk set the young woman safely on the bank on the other side of the river. As the young monk awaited his return, he could barely contain his aggravation, frustration, and disappointment. Soon, the wise old monk climbed from the river, and continued his silent journey toward the old temple in the mountains.
One hour passed, then another, and another. The entire time, the young monk’s blood was pumping in anger and confusion. After yet another hour of hiking in silence, the young monk couldn’t keep it in any longer. He blurted out, “I can’t believe that you did that! We’re not even allowed to gaze upon a young woman, yet you walked over and picked her up and carried her! How can you justify this behavior?” The wise old monk didn’t miss a stride when he said,
“I set down that fair maiden nearly four hours ago. Are you still carrying her?”
The two monks walked, silently, side by side, into the temple. The wise old monk, walking in peace; the young monk deep in though about the lesson that he’d learned on his journey.
Sometimes we can lose the beautiful moments that we’re living in by allowing the fears, disappointments, and regrets of our pasts to steal them away. Be aware of this. Be in the moment. Allow the very moment that you’re in to be experienced as it is. Allow it to be cherished, enjoyed, and protected from the fears, disappointments, and regrets of our past.
There’s another lesson buried in that story too. It is to understand that the laws and rules of our society, our schools, our homes, are there for a reason. These laws and rules protect us. However, there are going to be moments in your life when you have to trust yourself to do the right thing in the right moment, even if it’s against the laws or rules of your surroundings.
You are bright young men. You are gentlemen. You may be faced with a situation like the wise old monk, where you feel compelled to do something that is against the rules, but for the right reason. I trust you to do the right thing, because the right thing is guiding you each day.
Let go of yesterday. It no longer exists, so don’t carry it’s burdens. Trust in yourself to recognize when doing the right thing and doing what you’re told are different. Then, be confident in your decision, and let it go.
Be in this moment. This moment is all that we will ever have.
Remember the joy that being a gentleman brings.
I love you boys,