Saturday, January 31, 2009

People At A Park

They say this story was told by Nelson Mandela, the former South African president.

It begins, as inspirational stories usually do, on a cool breezy morning in a park. Several early birds jogged round an asphalt path as others sat admiring nature's handworks.

Mr. Mandela observed a jogger looking increasingly frustrated. Sure enough, he stopped a few minutes later and took off his shoes in a huff.

Our president strode over and patted this young man's shoulder. "What is the matter, son?"

Startled, he paused to catch his breath. "I've been a winner all my life."

"That's good."

"But not today."

"And why is that so?"

"See that old man there?" he gestured. "I've been trying to catch up with him the whole morning. I can't. He's just too good."

Mandela nodded.

"I beat everyone else. Even that sprinter guy there. He was behind me the whole time."

"But not the old man." He shook his head and gulped from his cooler.

The sun's rays caught a glimmer in the president's eye.

"Son," he said. "You did not see the full picture."

"That old man you were trying to beat - he came in much later than you did. In fact, while you weren't looking he cut in ahead of you."

"And that sprinter you thought you beat? He actually ran a whole round faster than you. That's why he was behind."

The young jogger lowered his gaze.

"In my time, I have seen people from all walks. Different races, communities, upbringings, financial backgrounds, opportunities. But the funny thing is this - they like comparing themselves with one another!"

"You cannot compare yourself with others! You have no idea where they started and where they're headed to. That sprinter could have easily outran you. But he was training for endurance. That's why he kept his pace."

"In life, some people start off wealthier, more privileged, more educated. Some want to be the best in the world. Some want to be the best in their family. Some want a simple life. They all will get there in their own time."

"You have to know where you came from and where you're going. Acknowledge every victory and defeat against these. That way, the only person worth comparing to is yourself."

Mandela put an arm round his shoulder and winked. "Now go run again, like you're running for your life."

He smiled as the lad put on his shoes and ran once more, intent only on maintaining his pace. And Mandela couldn't help smiling as he eventually overtook the old man without even realising it.


Sheikh Azraai said...

Brilliant piece. Just goes to show that life is too short to compare yourself with others. The only way you can be the best that you can be, is to just compete with yourself. We are our greatest opponent.

mOkKiEs said...

Well said yourself! Keep self-reflecting. Thanks for dropping by. =)

Chin Eu said...

I come here once in a while to check for new posts, and I still like Life in General most. =)

mOkKiEs said...

wow! what a surprise to see you here. keep reading! =D