A matter of perspective
On the Bright Side
August 20, 2022
Here's another one of those wonderful little stories that have come to me from friends via the Internet.
In researching this anecdote and trying to find the original author, I found out it was once (perhaps originally) of Chinese origin. By the way, it also turns out that there are several different stories that use the premise of a rich father and his son ... but those will perhaps be for another time. Wherever this story came from or whomever first wrote or told it, the tale is worth reading and repeating, and it goes like this:
One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip.
"It was great, Dad," the son replied.
"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
"So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
"We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
"We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, "It showed me just how poor we really are."
Isn't that a great little anecdote?
It makes me think that there are many ways to be wealthy, and few of them involve money and buying material things.
It also makes me think that sometimes we need reminders – sometimes from the perspective of a child – that there are always different ways of looking at things. That we each have our own perception of how things are and what they may mean. That sometimes we only see what we want to see – i.e. the wealthy father saw poverty as a sad or bad thing and the son found so much to be joyful about in the farmer's situation.
It's a good reminder not to judge someone else's life, too, and another good reminder that we see what we look for.
It's an especially good reminder, I think, that "one person's junk is another person's treasure" – it is all based in one's perspective.
© 2022 Mel White/Mel Makaw. Mel, Tehachapi writer/photographer, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996, She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.