The Fence

 

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The fence

“There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.”

 


Your influence on the universe

“I read the first chapter of “A Brief History Of Time” when Dad was still alive, and I got incredibly heavy boots about how relatively insignificant life is, and how, compared to the universe and compared to time, it didn’t even matter if I existed at all.

When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem. “What problem?” “The problem of how relatively insignificant we are.”

 

He said, “Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimetre?” I said, “I’d probably die of dehydration.” He said, “I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?”

 

I said, “I dunno, what?” He said. “Think about it.” I thought about it. “I guess I would have moved a grain of sand.” “Which would mean?” “Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?” “Which would mean you changed the Sahara.”

 

“So?” “So?” So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for million of years. And you changed it!” “That’s true!” I said, sitting up. “I changed the Sahara!”

 

“Which means?” he said. “What? Tell me.” “Well, I’m not talking about painting the Mona Lisa or curing cancer. I’m just talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimetre.”

 

“Yeah?” “If you hadn’t done it, human history would have been one way …” “Uh-huh?” “But, you did do it, so …?”

 

I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: “I changed the universe!” “You did.”

Source: “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer.

From: “Stories that make you think,”  www.rogerdarlington.com

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