One of the closest people in my life is a person that I have mentored for 10 years. I’ve watched him grow up in difficult times, so needless to say, we have been through a TON of life experiences together. Unfortunately right now he is incarcerated, so we only see each other when I have a chance to visit. However, we do get to talk on the phone a few times a week, and when we do we often talk about books. (I’ve made a habit of sending him some of my favorites, and after he reads them we’ll chat about what we thought of them.) I tend to read self-inspirational and positive thinking-related books the most, so that’s what I usually send him.
The past few weeks have been pretty stressful for me, and I think he could tell. Last Thursday morning I saw that his call was coming in and I wasn’t really in the mood to chat. But, I answered because I always pick up when he calls. We talked for a few minutes, then I told him I was heading into the office and to call me later. He said that he wanted to read me something that he found at the facility’s library. So, I stayed in my car and listened to him read me the following story about an African King.
The story is told of an African King who had a close friend with whom he grew up.
The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”
One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “This is good!” To which the king replied – “No, this is not good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened.
“And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.” “No,” his friend replied, “This is good!” “What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?” “If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you, and not here with you right now.”
I sat motionless in my car. Picturing him standing there, on a pay phone, out in the open, in a prison, reading this story to me. It was a very intense experience. Hearing that story and hearing it from someone that important to me immediately snapped me out of my funk. I thanked him for sharing and told him we would talk later. Every single bit of my stress and strain left and all the negativity I had in my life was flipped into positivity. Seriously. Life changing positivity. I am still riding the waves and that was 5 days ago! This is good!