Two teachers were once applying for the same Vice-Principal position at a local high school. One had been teaching a total of 8 years and the other a total of 20. Everyone expected the teacher with the greater experience to get the job, but when a decision was made it was the person with 8 years teaching who was chosen. The teacher overlooked for the job complained bitterly – “I’ve got 20 years teaching to her 8” he cried. “I’m vastly more qualified.”
The School Board’s reply went like this: “Yes sir, you do have 20 years teaching to her 8, but where she has 8 years experience you have 1 years experience repeated 20 times.”
Simply experiencing the passage of time doesn’t mean we have grown or learned from those things we experience during that time.
It was one of the most extraordinary birthday parties ever held. Not it wasn’t in a plush ballroom of a grand hotel. No there weren’t famous celebrities, nor anyone rich or powerful. It was held at 3am in a small seedy cafe in Honolulu, the guest of honour was a prostitute, the fellow guests were prostitutes, and the man who threw it was a Christian minister!
The idea came to Christian minister Tony Campolo very early one morning as he sat in the cafe. He was drinking coffee at the counter, when a group of prostitutes walked in and took up the stools around him. One of the girls, Agnes, lamented the fact that not only was it her birthday tomorrow but that she’d never had a birthday party.
Tony thought it would be a great idea to surprise Agnes with a birthday party. Learning from the cafe owner, a guy named Harry, that the girls came in every morning around 3.30am Tony agreed with him to set the place up for a party. Word somehow got out on the street, so that by 3.15 the next morning the place was packed with prostitutes, the cafe owner and his wife, and Tony.
When Agnes walked in she saw streamers, balloons, Harry holding a birthday cake, and everyone screaming out “Happy Birthday!” Agnes was overwhelmed. The tears poured down her face as the crowd sang Happy Birthday. When Harry called on her to cut the cake she paused. She’d never had a birthday cake and wondered if she could take it home to show her mother. When Agnes left there was a stunned silence. Tony did what a Christian minister should. He led Harry, Harry’s wife and a roomful of prostitutes in a prayer for Agnes.
It was a birthday party rarely seen in Honolulu – thrown by a Christian minister for a 39 year old prostitute who had never had anyone go out of their way to do something like this and who expected nothing in return. Indeed, so surprising was this turn of events that the cafe owner found it hard to believe there were churches that would do this sort of thing, but if there were then that’s the sort of church he’d be prepared to join.
A happy and cheerful man once captured a bird and placed it in a cage. “Give me my freedom sir!” cried the bird as he shut the door. Startled that the bird was talking to him, the man listened as it continued. “I am no use to you sir, for I have no beautiful feathers to look at nor am I able to sing beautiful songs, and I am to small to eat. If however, you promise to grant me my freedom I will tell you three wise teachings.”
The man agreed, whereupon the little bird told him: “First: Do not grieve over things that have already happened. Second: Do not wish for that which is unattainable. Third: Do not believe in that which cannot be possible.”
“Indeed, these are wise things you have taught me” said the man. As agreed, he opened the door of the cage and set the little bird free. The man sat and pondered the bird’s sayings, and the bird flew up to a branch high up in a tree. After a few moments the man heard the bird laughing. “Why do you laugh?” he called.
“Because I so easily won my freedom” replied the bird. “You humans pride yourselves on being the wisest of the creatures, yet I a tiny bird, have outwitted you. Within my belly lies a diamond the size of a hen’s egg. If you had not let me go you would be a wealthy man.”
Upon hearing this news our once happy and cheerful man became angry, sad and depressed. And the more the little bird laughed the angrier, sadder and more depressed the man became.
After some time the man started hurling abuse at the laughing bird as he attempted to recapture it. But to no avail. The little bird was always beyond his reach. Finally the little bird called out. “Listen to me O human. When you granted me freedom I gave you three teachings, yet you almost instantly forgot them. You should not grieve over things that have already happened, but still you are grieving that you gave me my freedom. You should not wish for things that you cannot obtain, and yet you want me, for whom freedom is my whole life, to voluntarily enter a prison. You should not believe that which is impossible, and yet you believe that I am carrying about inside my body a diamond as large as a hen’s egg, although I myself am only half the size of a hen’s egg.”
And with that the little bird flew away.
Source: Adapted from Otto Knoop, “Die drei Sprüche,” Ostmärkische Sagen, Märchen und Erzählungen (Lissa: Oskar Eulitz’ Verlag, 1909), no. 72, pp. 147-149 (translation by DL Ashlimann).
“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, 1949
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” – Western Union internal memo, 1876.
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” – David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” – A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” – Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'” – Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” – Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” – Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
“X-rays will prove to be a hoax” Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1893.
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” – Bill Gates, 1981
“Unworthy of the attention of practical and scientific men” – British Parliamentary Committee report on Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb
Apollo was one of the greatest gods of ancient Greek mythology. One of the stories about him concerns his human son Phaeton. Each morning Phaeton’s mother, Clymene would point out to the boy the rising of the sun and it’s passing through the sky. This was his father Apollo riding a chariot through the sky. However so magnificent were Clymene’s descriptions of Apollo that Phaeton became very conceited, boasting loudly and often of his divine parentage.
Tired of these boasts Phaeton’s playmates urged him to provide proof. Stung by their insults Phaeton learned from his mother how to find Apollo and then set out after the god. When he finally encountered Apollo he timidly entered his presence, and, encouraged by Apollo, poured out his story. As soon as he finished Apollo swore a solemn oath that he would grant his son any proof he wished. He had but to ask.
And ask Phaeton did. He asked permission to drive the sun chariot that very day, sure that his friends would see him and be convinced that Apollo was his father. Apollo was dismayed. Patiently he explained to Phaeton that the four fiery steeds would be beyond Phaeton’s control, that he would kill himself if he tried to drive the chariot. He begged Phaeton to select another proof.
But Phaeton refused to budge from his original request. He wanted to drive the sun chariot, and because Apollo had sworn an oath he could not deny the boy. The hour came when the fiery steeds were ready to go forth. Apollo anointed his son with a cooling oil to protect him from the suns harsh rays, gave him directions, and urged him to watch the steeds with the greatest care, especially to use the whip sparingly as the horses were inclined to be very restive.
Phaeton impatiently listened then leaped into the chariot. For an hour or two he paid heed to his father’s advice and all went well. But, growing overconfident and reckless he drove the horses faster and faster and lost his way. In getting back to course he drove too close to the earth, with disastrous results. The plants shrivelled up, the fountains and rivers went dry, the earth was blackened, and even the people in the land over which he drove were blackened.
Terrified at what he’d done Phaeton drove so far away that all the vegetation which had survived the scorching died on account of the sudden cold.
The people of earth cried out so loudly that the supreme god, Jupiter, was aroused form his sleep. Surveying what had been done he grew furious, took a lightning bolt and hurled it at the conceited Phaeton, killing him instantly.
Phaeton demonstrates the way of foolishness. Refusing to listen to the wiser counsel of others, fools rush headlong on their way, giving little thought to the possible consequences and so often finding themselves stranded in disaster.
Source: Reported in Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome
A young man once stood on a street corner, opened his coat, and cried, “Look at my heart, look at my perfect, perfect heart.” A crowd soon gathered, impressed by his perfect heart. They stood in awe of a heart without blemish, perfect and complete in every way.
Soon an old man walked by and paused to see what the commotion was all about. When he heard the young man proudly crying “Look at my perfect heart” the old man pushed his way to the front to get a closer look. And when he saw the young man’s heart he scolded him. “Son, that’s not a perfect heart. If you want to see a perfect heart you need to see mine.” With that the old man opened his coat to reveal and old, knotted and ugly heart. It was full of bumps and holes, and pieces of it had broken off here and there.
The crowd began to laugh, but the old man raised his hand and began to speak. “See this bump” he said, “That’s when I me my first love. Oh, how the sun shone that day, how bright the colours of the universe were, how sweet the swinging of the birds in the trees. What a wonderful moment it was…Ah, but see this hole, that’s when my first love and I broke up. How it pained me, and pains me still. But the hole once ran much deeper. The years have managed to fill it in a lot…See this bump, that’s when I me the woman who became my life partner. Oh, what a wonderful life we had – year after year of shared companionship, of laughter, tears and joy. This scratch here is when we had a blazing row that threatened to end our marriage – but we made up and moved on…Over here, this place where a piece of my heart has been broken off, this is when she passed away. Oh the ache – yes it still aches even today, for she took a part of my heart to the grave with her, but I trust she will return it to me someday…Ah, but here’s another great bump. This was when we began our family. You’ll notice the hole beside it. That’s when we learned we could not bear our own children. How hard it was to accept, how painful to live with. But the bump is when we got our adopted daughter – our very own beautiful little girl to raise as our own. And yes, there are scratches and indentations surrounding the bump – the times we fought and yelled. But always we learned to forgive, and so this bump grows ever bigger.”
The old man went on to describe many other bumps and holes and scratches on his heart, and when he finished the crowd was silent. “You see son” he aid, turning to the young man with the unblemished heart, “yours is not a perfect heart, for it has not lived, it has not been touched with joy and tears and laughter and love and pain and anguish and hardship and celebration. Only when you are an old man like me will you be able to look upon a gnarled and battered heart and be able to say, ‘yes, now that is a perfect heart.'”
Source: original story by Rev. Garry Izzard, rewritten and used with permission.