Let’s re-examine the value of goals
When you’re so young, five weeks can seem a very, very long time indeed.
Briony had seen an electronic typewriter in the shop.
Her yearning eyes let us know that this was what she wanted.
(Of course, this was long before she’d ever seen a child with a mobile phone or X-Box!)
So, day after day she did jobs with Mummy around the home, to earn some extra pocket money after school.
And press-ganged Daddy on Saturday, to help her with yukky tasks like cleaning out the rabbit hutch.
Gradually her ‘pennies’ began to fill the bottom of her big glass jar.
And for every penny, she’d watch us drop in two.
Determined day followed determined day.
Until the moment when she was standing in that shop again.
Then – with help – she lifted the big glass jar, heavy with coins, to show the lady at the counter.
Except now there were tears in her eyes.
She looked at the beautiful box, with the picture of that brightly coloured typewriter.
Then she looked more earnestly at the big glass jar with her many, many, hard-earned pennies.
And she clung tightly to it.
“Briony. You need to give the lady the jar with your money. Then she can give you your new typewriter.”
Gently, she shook her head.
Eventually, she was persuaded to part with her many, many pennies in her big glass jar.
And the lady at the counter handed Mummy the beautiful box.
When they got home, Briony helped to open the beautiful box.
She looked at the brightly coloured typewriter.
She put it on the floor.
And she never touched it again.
On that day, Briony learned a painful lesson, which not even our most eloquent explanation could have taught her.
(I’m not sure whose heart was more broken: ours or hers.)
She learned how easy it is to be tempted by the Bright Shiny Thing that we so badly desire.
And then how hard it is to toil away the precious days, weeks and months of our life, to possess it.
Only to find that the pleasure of possession or achievement can be fleeting. Even empty.
When my wealthy, semi-retired mentor, Andrew, first read this story… he emptied his wardrobe of his very expensive Armani suits and other impressive labels.
Then took them straight down to the charity shop.
He later chuckled at what he had lost, merely in order to impress others.
He saw that not all goals, or achievements, are equal in fulfilment.
So, here’s the question:
What seemingly-essential goal are you about to barter your precious, wildly fragile and gloriously possible days for?
And, when you finally get there… are you satisfied that the pleasure of possession or achievement will ever match the yearning of anticipation?