Once Upon a Time


There is an old saying from Margaret Atwood, which says, “You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.” I send you a story like this each month because stories remind us of who we are. I hope you find a piece of yourself in this story:

Once upon a time, two brothers were venturing from town to town. Along the way, they saw an old man with a white beard carrying a heavy sack over his shoulder. The old man stopped and asked the boys where they were headed. When he found out, he told them, “I want to help you.” He put a hand in his pocket and pulled out a handful of golden coins. 

“Which one of you wants these?” he asked.

“I want them,” replied the big brother immediately.

The old man then put a hand in his other pocket and pulled out a precious gem, shining like the sun, and asked again, “And who wants to have this gem?”

“I want it,” the big brother answered hastily. The old man gave him the coins and the gem.

Then the old man put down his sack and said, “Now who is going to help me carry this sack to the village?”

The big brother said nothing. But the little brother pulled up his sleeves and bent down to help him.

The old man smiled and said, “Take it with you, my boy, along with everything that is inside.”

“No,” said the younger brother. “It’s not mine.”

“Take it.. take it.” said the old man. “It’s my gift to you.”

The little brother opened the sack, and what did he see? The bag was filled with gold coins and precious gemstones. He stood up to thank the old man, but he was nowhere to be found. Whether you are the big brother – who is assertive and leaps toward opportunity, or the little brother – who believes in hard work, or the old man – who remembers to be fair and generous, I hope you find the best of who you are in this story.

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